July 26, 2006

Q&A at the Pentagon

Q: Is the country closer to a civil war?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don't know. You know, I thought about that last night, and just musing over the words, the phrase, and what constitutes it. If you think of our Civil War, this is really very different. If you think of civil wars in other countries, this is really quite different. There is -- there is a good deal of violence in Baghdad and two or three other provinces, and yet in 14 other provinces there's very little violence or numbers of incidents. So it's a -- it's a highly concentrated thing. It clearly is being stimulated by people who would like to have what could be characterized as a civil war and win it, but I'm not going to be the one to decide if, when or at all.

No, he won't, as he's become increasingly irrelevant, and a disgrace to his office. How the sitting American Secretary of Defense can be so breathtakingly glib about whether Iraq is closer to civil war in a year that has seen over 14,000 Iraqis die (mostly because of conditions of incipient civil war) beggars belief. Note to how he is increasingly responding to questions of critical import regarding Baghdad's security by deferring to Generals Casey and Dempsey--with Casey evidently the main liason with Prime Minister Maliki on such issues--including not only military strategy per se, but also the so-called 'reconciliation' initiatives underway, or strengthening the key ministries, or rendering more efficient intelligence gathering efforts, all of which have important non-military dimensions, and all of which would benefit from protracted non-military input by a competent leader at the helm of the Pentagon. I mean, what exactly is Rumsfeld doing, if he is not at least actively seized by the critical import of trying to bring Baghdad back from the brink (quite shockingly, he doesn't even know how many extra troops are being sent into Baghdad saying simply, "it's not in my head", and "I'm not going to do numbers")? Stabilizing Baghdad is the linchpin struggle we must engage full-on to hope against hope to turn Iraq back from even greater calamities, and our Secretary of Defense appears, variously, dismissive, insouciant, tired, and callously disinterested in our ultimate success there. Could the urgent need for fresh leadership at the Pentagon be any clearer? Resign, Rumsfeld!

MORE: Will ink-blotting Baghdad make the difference? I doubt it, frankly. What we see here is a perfect encapsulation of the entire flawed war strategy. Reactive, not proactive, temporarily pulling forces from already volatile regions to ones that have become even more volatile, and therefore failing to conclusively prevail in either--basically too little, too late. Or the Rumsfeld Doctrine, if you will: "just enough troops to lose". I prefer the Powell Doctrine, but call me old-fashioned, and not a courageous new paradigmer.

Posted by Gregory at July 26, 2006 03:10 AM

About Belgravia Dispatch

Gregory Djerejian, an international lawyer and business executive, comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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