Jan 182005
 

Outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell has issued his bleakest assessment of Iraq yet, just two weeks out from the country’s first elections since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government. Relaying an account from former U.S. ambassador Chas Freeman, the Financial Times reports that Bush recently asked Powell for his views on Iraq. "’We’re losing,’ Mr Powell was quoted as saying. Mr. Freeman said Mr. Bush then asked the secretary of state to leave." The anecdote appears to confirm two recent developments regarding U.S.-Iraq policy. On the one hand, prominent Republican moderates like Powell are issuing increasingly downcast prognoses of the prospects for stability in Iraq even after the election, and are openly discussing the possibility of withdrawing U.S. forces. On the other hand, according to the insider D.C. tip sheet, the Nelson Report, President Bush is consciously refusing to consider unpleasant reports about the situation in Iraq. According to the report, "attempts to brief Bush on various grim realities have been personally rebuffed by the President, who actually says that he does not want to hear ‘bad news.’"

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