Friday, November 10, 2006

Rummy, You Did a Heck Of a Job

The departure of the worst Secretary of Defense ever – and Robert McNamara set the bar mighty high there but Rumsfeld cleared it – means it’s time to take stock of what his replacement means. Rumsfeld’s complete misunderstanding of Iraq, of the kind of Army needed to occupy a country, of the nature of the insurgency, and of the situation on the ground, reveled a stunning incompetence. That Bush decided to delegate so much to this arrogant nitwit speaks volumes about his leadership. That Cheney allegedly fought for his retention says a great deal about his judgment. I say allegedly, because I am less certain about all the stories that have leaked out since Rumsfeld’s firing. I’m a poker player and if you play, you know that when an opponent bets, the first decision you have to make is whether he has the hand he seems to be betting, or is just creating the illusion of that hand by betting at that point. Very often that decision comes down to the history of that opponent’s bets. So we have to ask ourselves, if the White House is leaking the information that Cheney and Rumsfeld are the losers of a power struggle, that Bush and by extension, Rice, are taking control now, is this real, or the story they want us to believe? I don’t know the answer – I usually believe nothing I hear from these people, but we do know that hatred of Rumsfeld was widespread. This is also good PR, since the American people clearly wanted Runsfeld gone. Maybe the leaks are true. In any case, good riddance to bad rubbish.
As for his replacement, Robert Gates – this is a stunningly non-Bushian move. Not only did he go outside the inner circle, he found someone who disagrees with Bush on major pieces of his policy. Gates believes we should be talking to Iran and Syria and try and get their help with Iraq. That’s right, chat up the axis of evil and their running dog. Has Bush had some kind of Road to Damascus moment? Is a radical change of policy in the offing? Is Bush actually going to listen to someone with a different point of view from his own? I’ll believe it when I see it. I think Gates’ job is to get approved easily, which he will, and to buy Bush time. It will be a few months until the Baker-Hamilton Commission (which Gates was a member of) reports. This report is being treated like it’s coming to Washington etched on two stone tablets by a finger of fire. Will Bush use the report to cover his retreat? Will Bush use it as a basis for a fundamental shift in how we deal with not just Iraq but the region? Or will Bush just try and run out the clock until the 2008 campaign starts, when he’ll say major changes shouldn’t be made during a campaign? That move would allow him to pass the buck to the next President and blame him for the inevitable collapse of Iraq. I think that’s where he’s heading, because stalling means things can turn around and victory will be possible (in his mind, if not the real world), and that he doesn’t have to pull back and watch the carnage which he set in motion happen on his watch.

4 Comments:

Blogger samG said...

As incompetent, misguided and arrogant as Rumsfeld appears to have been during his tenure, I think the focus on him avoids the larger analysis that is required in order to understand the huge mistake in judgement that was the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was the policy that was at fault more than the execution although a better execution might, indeed, have made the policy decision appear better.

Only a clear indication of an imminent threat to the U.S. homeland by the regime in power in Iraq could justify sending U.S. troops to Iraq risking the life of even one U.S. soldier with the potential for unleashing a torrent of disastrous consequences. There was no evidence to suggest that Iraq is a viable country absent a ruthless dictator for which it's citizens were willing to risk there lives. The potential for unleashing a disastrous series of events which would spiral out of control and lead to an even more troublesome reality than the one prior to our invasion could not be risked. The damage to the prestige and credibilty of the U.S. is ruinous to the ability of the U.S. to effect positive golbal change.

It is the decision, I believe reached well prior to W's inauguration, and the manipulation of intelligence to justify it that is the real tragedy and not the execution of that strategy.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Barry Rubinowitz said...

As the kids say -- "true dat". Okay, maybe not your kids -- but I hear that's what kids say.
Unfortunately, the decision was made to start this and now the question is how we end it. Given that Tony Snow has said that setting a timetable for troop withdrawal is a "non-starter" and that dividing the country into semi-autonomous regions is a "non-starter", one has to assume the Bushistas have no plan on getting us out of there in the next two years, as I suspected.

9:57 AM  
Blogger samG said...

One more comment on this subject.

What came before today is irrelevant to what the U.S. should do now in Iraq. The lives of close to 3,000 young U.S. soldiers, tens of thousands of Iraqis, and the wounding of hundreds of thousands more are not honored by maintaining a failed and disastrous strategy which would result in the loss of more young lives.

The only thing that matters is whether the continued presence of U.S. troops, from this day forward, will have a positive or negative outcome. As an addendum, would the chance to avoid escalating civil war be lessened by our staying longer in Iraq? I think its pretty clear that the presence of U.S. troops is more of a negative than a positive and that the elements within Iraq are likely to escalate the violence whenever foreign troops leave, whether that be in 1 year or 5 years.

Therefore, we should advise whoever is 'in charge' that we will start our withdrawal tomorrow with hopes of completing it in 30 days. No more U.S. lives should be placed at risk for this deceitful, disastrous mis-adventure. Sadly, many countries, ours included, have found their unity and common purpose as a result of civil wars and, if need be, the Iraqis must be permitted to do the same.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home