Top Republicans Break with Bush on Iraq

And surprise Secretary of State Colin Powell appears to be back on the reservation

In a replay of its "let's you and him fight" tactic, the liberal and fanatically anti-Bush New York Times focused on a split between the administration and some top Republicans in its story about former Bush Sr.'s National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.

Co-authored by Times reporter Todd Purdum, the story is reminiscent of his recent story on an alleged split between Secretary of State Colin Powell and the White House reported by on July 25.

In that piece, wrote that Purdum labored mightily to stir up a ruckus between Powell and President George W. Bush, reporting that tensions between the two are so great that it raises speculation that Powell "might not last through President Bush's term."

In his Aug. 15 piece, Purdum is back at it, this time showcasing an alleged split between Bush and what Purdum called "leading Republicans from Congress, the State Department and past administrations" who, he writes, "have begun to break ranks with President Bush over his administration's high-profile planning for war with Iraq, saying the administration has neither adequately prepared for military action nor made the case that it is needed."

Purdum cites the doubts expressed by former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft and adds that "All say they favor the eventual removal of Saddam Hussein, but some say they are concerned that Mr. Bush is proceeding in a way that risks alienating allies, creating greater instability in the Middle East, and harming long-term American interests. They add that the administration has not shown that Iraq poses an urgent threat to the United States."

And, surprise, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell appears to be back on the reservation, with his subordinates having decided "they should focus international discussion on how Iraq would be governed after Mr. Hussein." This decision, however, Purdum hastens to assure us, is "a way to outflank administration hawks and slow the rush to war, which many in the department oppose."

"For those of us who don't see an invasion as an article of faith but as simply a policy option, there is a feeling that you need to give great consideration to what comes after, and that unless you're prepared to follow it through, then you shouldn't begin it," one senior administration official involved in foreign policy told Purdum and co-author Patrick Tyler.

It took a while but Purdum finally got around to the matter that provoked the Times story, Scowcroft's Aug. 15 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. Scowcroft, who he tells us "helped build the broad international coalition against Iraq in the Persian Gulf war, warned that 'an attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counter-terrorist campaign we have undertaken.' An attack might provoke Iraq to use chemical or biological weapons in an effort to trigger war between Israel and the Arab world, he added.

Among other Republicans Purdum cites as being at odds with the President's Iraq policies were former interim Secretary of State under the president's father Lawrence S. Eagleburger, who told ABC News that unless Mr. Hussein "has his hand on a trigger that is for a weapon of mass destruction, and our intelligence is clear, I don't know why we have to do it now, when all our allies are opposed to it," and House majority leader Dick Armey.

Let's see, that's two ominous splits Purdum has managed to find - Powell vs. Bush, Bush vs. a corporal's guard of Republicans. What's next, George W. vs. George H.W., or perhaps, George vs. Laura?

Carl Limbacher