November 05, 2006

Dear Decider....

...a message from the Army Times:

Now, the president says he’ll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.

This is a mistake. It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation’s current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.

These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.

And although that tradition, and the officers’ deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go.

Meantime Glenn Reynolds, continuing his sad descent into abject insta-hackery, does his best to continue to carry water for Rumsfeld. One of the few criticisms he musters up linking is (drum roll, please...) from Mike Ledeen! Glenn writes, (unintentionally) hilariously: "Rumsfeld's a polarizing figure, and antiwar people have been talking smack about him for so long that legitimate criticism tends to get lost in the fog of politics. But this critique of Rumsfeld's management style from Michael Ledeen is more troubling, because it's specific." Heh, as they say. These critiques were not specific Glenn? Or these? (More background here). Let me guess, these Generals were, er, anti-war people? It's risible Glenn will finally take criticism of Rumsfeld seriously because Ledeen pens a few complaints in the ribald pages of The Corner. Risible, but woefully predictable.

One thing is for sure, Glenn cannot be taken at all seriously on foreign policy or national security matters anymore. Yet another example why comes today, when Glenn approvingly quotes this E-mail he received (in the same post linked above):

There is no "loss of momentum" in Iraq.

The deliberate, carefully thought-out mission there is to force the Iraqis to build up a military/security apparatus strong enough to defend the country. If we try to "crush" the insurgency ourselves, the Iraqis will have no incentive to fight. They will sit back and let us battle the unending waves of jihadis, Ba'athists, and Shi'ite militias. We will have to stay there forever while the government enriches itself in the traditional Arab style.

The ball is in the Iraqis' court. We took away the obstacle to their freedom. If they choose to embrace death, corruption, incompetence, lethal religious mania, and stone-age tribalism, then at least we'll finally know the limitations of the people in that part of the world.

The experiment had to be made.

To which Glenn ponderously notes: "Hmm". Yes Glenn, it has all been an exercise in perfectly calibrated, controlled chaos. We wanted Iraq to descend into civil war and anarchic killing fields--the better so that the Iraqi Army could lead the fight, so as not to run afoul of Rumsfeld's 'dependency' nostrums (Glenn's correspondent also conveniently ignores why then we made such a hash of the T&E effort too).

I could be more rude, but I'll restrain myself because I used to be friendly with Glenn. But don't miss this topper, which Glenn goes on to write in the same post:

On the other hand, it's also true that if democracy can't work in Iraq, then we should probably adopt a "more rubble, less trouble" approach to other countries in the region that threaten us. If a comparatively wealthy and secular Arab country can't make it as a democratic republic, then what hope is there for places that are less wealthy, or less secular?

"(M)ore rubble, less trouble", huh? Is that little rhyming jingle code for 'bombs away' in those faraway Arab Lands? Poor Glenn, and poor us, that tens of thousands read what he says on such matters with the slightest credulity and seriousness. Glenn might consider stopping to play pretend that he has any serious contributions to make with regard to Middle East policy, no?

Posted by Gregory at November 5, 2006 03:03 AM

At some juncture--and I confess to not going to the links--Reynolds seemed to be advocating, as a fix for Iraq, that we do Iran and Syria, too. That was it. Just the flat proposal, no discernible rationale.

That a Yale Law School graduate could be reduced to such puerile nonsense I suppose may be best explained by a sort of rabid partisanship and overwhelming horror at Democrat (of the non-Bredesen sort) rule. But if one is seriously trying to account for what bids to be the worst foreign policy disaster ever, somewhere in the accounting this sort of mindless cheering on has to be given its proper place. Maybe it's to do with the sheer incredibilty of the errors committed in Washington. It may be that a certain reluctance to see them for what they are makes sense--they range far beyond the plausible and may be without precedent in degree of ineptitude.

The primary blame of course lies in the White House and Pentagon. Still, the blinders worn by Reynolds and his ilk are a puzzle, too, and their role in the debacle, though only attendant, should be given its proper place.

Posted by: Rainsborough at November 5, 2006 04:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Still wanting to know why Reynolds had any influence in the first place...

Posted by: Brad at November 5, 2006 05:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"More rubble, less trouble"? Did he really say that? Sheesh. If I were a young Middle Eastern gentleman, I might be thinking that I should get them before they surely get us.

I wonder what you think of the Army Times messing with political appointees in general; I can see what has driven them to it, but at the same time I wonder if things are starting to get Praetorian up in here.

Posted by: Delicious Pundit at November 5, 2006 05:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"I wonder what you think of the Army Times messing with political appointees in general; I can see what has driven them to it, but at the same time I wonder if things are starting to get Praetorian up in here."

Army Times is owned by Gannett. It isn't a military publication, though its readership and sources are military.

ie, if Army Times is running a critical editorial, that probably means the view is representative of that held by their customer base in the military.

That's not quite the same as active-duty military writing a political editorial critical of the SecDef.

Posted by: Jon H at November 5, 2006 06:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"More rubble, less trouble" - and those people complain with incredulous indignation that the US under Bush is considered the greatest threat to world peace in worldwide polls, before NK and Iran?

I pray that the Americans will finally put these deluded lunatics out of power as quickly as possible. Good lord, and I always used to hope for GOP presidents in the past...

Posted by: Mentar at November 5, 2006 09:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What bothers me is that Reynolds remains among the most "respected" conservative bloggers (happy to see that he's not on Greg's blog roll). It goes beyond Reynold's sheer ignorance of foreign policy issues -- in this instance, Reynolds displays an unmistakable racism toward Middle Eastern peoples....

The last twelve months have been the litmus test for sanity among conservative supporters of the Iraq war. A number of them (Greg, Cole, Sullivan) have finally come to understand what, to us leftists, has been glaringly obvious all along. Those who continue to support Bush are, quite frankly, nuts. And Reynolds is their leader.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at November 5, 2006 10:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Help us here. Can the argument be made that the editorial does not reflect the view of the active duty military as Jon H. indicates?

Has the Army times and its allied pub's all gone liberal on us?

Posted by: Thom H. at November 5, 2006 11:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not to defend Reynolds and his moronic emailing minion - but there is sadly an element of truth to what they say: poets, historians, philosophers in Athens and Rome and the roiling nation states of early modern Europe all knew and accepted in some way the dynamic of creation and destruction playing out in the foundations of the world. All religions are based on musing upon this dynamic as are most moral philosophies - culminating I suppose in Nietzsche who drove the dynamic to the ends of logical absurdity and a full embrace of bitter irony. The childlike eschatology of George W Bush misses the irony part: it's no accident that he speaks with vapid equanimity of 'history' writing, many years down the road, the final chapter of this book he has begun. He is a naive follower, seeding fallow ground with simple-minded desires. Reynolds and his ilk on the other hand would seem to be cynical users of the ethos - or at least it would appear that is what they're becoming since I guess it would be unseemly to simply champion destruction while our our brave soldiers valiantly stand in harms way striking at dragons.

I imagine much of this 'the experiment had to be made' nonsense is either a cynical equivocation feeding off eschatological sympathies or an actual belief, naive and atavistic, in end times. Either way the real goal of each is achieved: avoidance of difficult questions and disturbing answers. The faith is preserved. Three cheers for us!

Posted by: saintsimon at November 5, 2006 12:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What I find odd is that someone like Glenn Reynolds still believes Stalin was a moral monster, and yet there is nothing that Stalin could legitmately be accused of in kind if not in scope that Glenn is willing to advocate for US policy.

Posted by: theCoach at November 5, 2006 08:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


But Stalin was a bad man whereas everyone knows our intentions are pure {/exceptionalism]

Posted by: Pooh at November 6, 2006 06:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The last e-mail, the one Reynolds pithily "hmm"d, stands as the most disgusting iteration of the Iraq blame-game that I've yet read. Blaming the (out-of-power) Democrats, the media, liberalism, and other highly tangential factors is bad enough. But to somehow assign blame for all the monumental mistakes on innocent people merely attempting to live their lives with some modicum of security is beyond the pale.

Posted by: matt s at November 6, 2006 07:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Reynolds would think Stalin was breaking lots of eggs but would never really make an omelet.

In Iraq he still expects an omelet.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 6, 2006 12:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thom H. writes: "Help us here. Can the argument be made that the editorial does not reflect the view of the active duty military as Jon H. indicates?"

It probably does reflect the view of the active duty military.

My point was simply that the editorial is not a case of mutiny, because the papers are not military-run. That would be closer to the truth if the editorial ran in Stars & Stripes, which is military-run.

But the Army Times papers certainly have close ties to the active-duty military community, which is after all their audience, so their judgement almost certainly reflects what they're hearing from active-duty personnel.

That probably isn't what you want to hear, as you seem to want to be reassured that the Army Times is just spouting some liberal dogma disconnected from the serving military.

Sorry, but you're going to have to face up to how bad Rummy's doing.

Posted by: Jon H at November 6, 2006 03:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

> Reynolds would think Stalin was breaking lots of eggs but would never really make an omelet.

> In Iraq he still expects an omelet.

That is one of the cleverest little pithy summaries that I have seen in a while...

Posted by: Baldwin at November 6, 2006 05:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jon H.

Actually no, I'm mortified at how this administration has damaged our country on so many fromts.

It helps to know who writting it, so you can try to glean if they are being a honest player or just spouting a party line. Also helps in deflecting criticisms when you are discussing it with the true believers.

While a little disconcerting, it will help if the armed forces keep speaking out, if for no other reason to give cover for those trying to somehow force a change of course in Iraq before we are simply ejected by a bunch of militias.

I used to believe we were the strongest military force in the world, no longer. The Bush Admin. has shown the word our inability to successfully project force in the middle east. Bush and Rummy are most at fault, but Franks and others share the blame also.,

Posted by: Thom H. at November 6, 2006 07:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wait, weren't 'anti-war types' being accused of racism for implying that Iraqis couldn't manage their own affairs?

Is this meme now also dead?

Weep for the death of memes. Weep LOUDER!

Posted by: Max Renn at November 6, 2006 07:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The "let's blame the Iraqis" meme has been around for a while. I recall hearing Kristol float this idea about the time it became clear that the insurgency was more than a bunch of "dead enders".


Posted by: Antonio Manetti at November 7, 2006 07:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"more rubble less trouble?"
How does Afghanistan fit into this nostrum?

Posted by: richard at November 7, 2006 12:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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