In 1991, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell had been utilizing extreme on their Persian Gulf War triumph. More than 4 million New Yorkers poured into the streets to cheer the ticker-tape parade they led up Broadway.
“The most effective combination we’ve seen in this country since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig,” gushed one Republican lawmaker.
President George H.W. Bush basked in a 74 p.c approval rating, and his two excessive navy advisers, Cheney as secretary of safety and Powell as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had been a wonderfully unified workforce.
“We thought so much alike,” Powell talked about, “We could finish each other’s sentences.”
A decade later, Bush’s son George W. obtained the White House himself, with Cheney as his uniquely extremely efficient vice-chairman. As his first Cabinet appointment, Bush 43 named Powell his secretary of state.
But this time, the 2 associates had been just about immediately at each other’s throats.
In “The Great Rift” (Henry Holt), out Tuesday, James Mann traces the parallel careers of Cheney and Powell, companions who descended into rancorous infighting that harmed them every — and, Mann contends, the nation as successfully — in a battle that uncovered foreign-policy fault traces that Donald Trump would later highlight in his private rise to vitality.
The two had been always an odd couple. Cheney, the conservative true believer and taciturn media foe from Wyoming, was a relentless ideologue. “He really didn’t give a damn if people didn’t like him,” talked about one former aide. “He was really an un-politician politician.”
Powell, the affable press darling from The Bronx, was an astute navy officer steeped in typical Washington data. Or, as Cheney as quickly as sneered, “attuned to public approval”— for him, Mann notes, “the ultimate insult.”
Bush had chosen the seasoned Cheney as “a running mate who would help him govern.” That gave Cheney the freedom to dominate the administration’s decision-making as he completely satisfied, with not one of the formal departmental duties that constrained mere Cabinet secretaries.
After the horrific terror strikes of September 11, 2001, Cheney pushed laborious for all-out assaults, unilateral ones if obligatory, on Afghanistan and Iraq. Powell urged warning and diplomacy, insisting on negotiations with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and on the need to persuade allies to be a part of a “global war on terror.”
The in-house bickering went on for months, with Cheney repeatedly gaining the upper hand. Powell, Mann writes, “was spectacularly ineffective at registering dissent.”
As Bush inched nearer to launching the Iraq War, he ordered the favored Powell to win the blessing of the United Nations Security Council with a speech in February 2003.
Powell had solely per week to put collectively for this important cope with. But he pooh-poohed all three place papers that had been prepared by Cheney’s excessive aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
Instead, he composed a rushed rationale based mostly totally on the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report about Saddam Hussein’s supposed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction — a paper that turned out to be badly flawed.
Within weeks, as a result of the Iraq War degenerated into chaos and no WMD had been found, Powell realized he’d provided a bogus case for the battle. By July, he was being pilloried throughout the press for exaggerating the proof.
The lack of WMD was a blow to the entire administration. But Powell took the failure personally.
“It’s a blot,” he talked about in 2005. “It was painful. It’s painful now.”
The internal finger-pointing throughout the wake of the WMD debacle led straight to the outing of Valerie Plame, a CIA agent whose husband had criticized Bush’s anti-Iraq proof. A specific prosecutor was shortly eyeing Scooter Libby due to the suspected leaker. The investigation dragged on for 2 years, tarring Cheney throughout the course.
Months after Libby was indicted for lying to the FBI, a Powell aide, Richard Armitage, lastly confessed to being the precise wrongdoer. When Cheney realized that Powell had recognized of Armitage’s guilt from the beginning, nonetheless, had in no way revealed that key fact to the White House, his enmity for his former good buddy was sealed.
In 2011, every Cheney and Powell had been invited to George H.W. Bush’s presidential library in College Station, Texas, for a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Persian Gulf War. Neither of them wanted to participate if the alternative deliberate to attend. “That was a murderously hard negotiation,” talked about Ryan Crocker of Texas A&M University, host of the event.
Eventually, Crocker talked them into it. A personal plane was organized to ferry Powell, Cheney and a few completely different administration alumni from Washington to Texas.
“They were hiding behind their newspapers — not even a hello,” Crocker talked about. “That’s when I realized how much they loathed each other.”