Retired Special Forces Major F. Andy Messing, who founded the National Defense Council Foundation in 1978 to popularize the idea of low-intensity conflict, tells The Beltway Beat of a private meeting he had on Sept. 30, 2002, with Bush senior adviser Karl Rove, during which the veteran of the Vietnam War (among other conflicts) warned against a conventional U.S. military assault on Baghdad.
"My associate, (NDCF President) Milt Copulos, and I met with Karl Rove and his deputy in Rove's office in the White House," Messing reveals. "At that time, I warned Karl that a conventional military operation into Iraq was not a good idea, and that a 'commando' group should target (Saddam Hussein) and his main boys.
"I described how. I told him at the time that a conventional operation would cost over $100 billion and over 1,000 KIA (killed in action), which it did in the first phase - only to go up to $500 billion and 2,600 (U.S. war dead) now," notes Messing, who presented a modus operandi "to take out Saddam." (The Pentagon's current official count stands at just under 2,400 dead.)
Ironically, both White House visitors told Rove that a major energy crisis would likely follow on the heels of any major U.S. intervention in Iraq, affecting America's economy and possibly destroying the legacy of President Bush.
"I turned the meeting over to Milt, a celebrated energy expert, and he predicted in detail when it was going to happen, exactly how much gasoline (prices) would go to, and how it would ripple in and cripple the economy," Messing notes.
Rove, he says, requested additional proof beyond the briefing paper the pair presented him, which the NDCF later produced at a cost of $68,000.
"The bottom line is we tried to warn them - quietly, and as a team players - everything from radical Muslims were going to attack on Bush's watch, to conventional forces rolling tanks into Iraq was a bad idea, to the coming energy problem. They didn't listen," Messing states. "And the American people are taking it in the shorts."
President Bush wins "man about campus" honors this year, delivering commencement addresses to students and cadets of, to name several, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College at Perkinston, Oklahoma State University, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Tulane University in New Orleans.
Students at the latter institution, in fact, will be treated to not one, but a pair of graduation-day addresses on May 13, the second delivered by former President Bill Clinton. (There is no truth to the rumor that Clinton has been adopted by the Bush family.)
First lady Laura Bush will appear before Vanderbilt University's senior class, as well as graduates of Roger Williams College in Rhode Island. But top honors for the most creative graduation ceremony go to George Washington University, which will welcome on stage both former President Bush and his wife, Barbara, for a "commencement co-address," if you will.
Other notable 2006 speakers from the political arena include former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards, a Democrat, who will resurface at the University of Maine; his running mate, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, a guest of Kenyon College in Ohio; retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who will appear at the University of Texas at Austin; former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell at Arlington's Marymount University; Arizona Sen. John McCain at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University; Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as guest of Northwestern University; and former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot, who sounds off at Southern Methodist University.
From the pulpit, Australia's most prominent church leader, George Cardinal Pell, will join Christendom College's graduating class of 2006 in Front Royal, Va., while Washington Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick will be welcomed to Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is honored guest of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg.
Crashing Fort Lauderdale this spring break will be Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses," appearing no doubt under tight security at Nova Southeastern University. Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw is off to Florida State University, while Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan is to grace the beautiful campus of High Point University in North Carolina.
From the Fourth Estate, columnist Robert D. Novak hopefully will expand on the CIA-leak case during his remarks to students of Thomas More College in Kentucky. And last but never least, CNN's Wolf Blitzer will address esteemed graduates of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, this columnist's alma mater, which will confer an honorary doctorate of humane letters on "The Situation Room" host.
MEET THE BEETLES
Number of beetles that right-wing entomologists have named after Bush administration officials: 3 - Harper's Index, May 2006
1918 AND 1996
After reading Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter's new book about the first hundred days of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency, it becomes clear why the ghost of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt chose 1996 - the year of President Clinton's scandalous affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky - to "converse" with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Actually, "commiserate" is a better word.
It was in 1918, while unpacking Mr. Roosevelt's bags after a trip to Europe, that Mrs. Roosevelt discovered a bundle of love letters to her husband from her former social secretary, Lucy Mercer, the author recalls in "The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope."
While her husband's affair, like Clinton's in 1996, lasted only a few months, Mrs. Roosevelt's "wound would be permanent, but so was her determination to continue investing in Franklin's future," Alter notes. "In the remaining 27 years of their marriage, they formed a political partnership in which she became her husband's willing instrument."
As Mrs. Roosevelt recalled: "He might have been happier with a wife who was completely uncritical. That I was never able to be, and he had to find it in other people."
At the time of Mrs. Roosevelt's death in 1962, reveals Alter, a tattered clipping was discovered atop her bedside table. It was the poem "Psyche," by Virginia Moore, with the lines: "The soul that had believed/and was deceived/ends by believing more/than ever before."
Scrawled across the top was simply: "1918."
"Promptly a few minutes before 12 I looked up from the desk and there stood Stalin in the doorway."
Or so we read for the first time in President Truman's personal diary, describing his first meeting with Josef Stalin on July 17, 1945. The diary is just one sample of a major exhibition entitled "Eyewitness: American originals from the National Archives" - letters, diaries, photographs and other materials selected from billions of documents in the holdings of the Archives - set to open in Washington this summer.