Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titantic

Iraq Stabilization Group

The White House has ordered a major reorganization of American efforts to quell violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and to speed the reconstruction of both countries, according to senior administration officials.

The new effort includes the creation of an “Iraq Stabilization Group,” which will be run by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. The decision to create the new group, five months after Mr. Bush declared the end of active combat in Iraq, appears part of an effort to assert more direct White House control over how Washington coordinates its efforts to fight terrorism, develop political structures and encourage economic development in the two countries.


The reorganization was described in a confidential memorandum that Ms. Rice sent Thursday to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet.

Asked about the memorandum on Sunday, Ms. Rice called it “a recognition by everyone that we are in a different phase now” that Congress is considering Mr. Bush’s request for $20 billion for reconstruction and $67 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. She said it was devised by herself, Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Powell and Mr. Rumsfeld in response to discussions she held with Mr. Bush at his ranch in late August.

The creation of the group, according to several administration officials, grew out of Mr. Bush’s frustration at the setbacks in Iraq and the absence of more visible progress in Afghanistan, at a moment when remnants of the Taliban appear to be newly active. It is the closest the White House has come to an admission that its plans for reconstruction in those countries have proved insufficient, and that it was unprepared for the guerrilla-style attacks that have become more frequent in Iraq. There have been more American deaths in Iraq since the end of active combat than during the six weeks it took to take control of the country.

I want to see if I have this right. The same people who got us into this mess are going to get us out of this mess by starting a new “group” with a new name. I mean, were they not taking this thing seriously previously?



Yeah. Like I would tell you....