August 17, 2005

Department of Short-Sighted 'Leveraging' Strategies

I've been reading both Larry Diamond's "Squandered Victory" as well as David Phillips' "Losing Iraq" while down in Brazil this week. They are both good reads and I'll have more on them soon. In the meantime, here's a gem from Diamond's book (pp. 30-31) that well clues us in to how astoundingly talented a Defense Secretary we are blessed and lucky enough to have manning the war effort:

Rumsfeld zealously opposed any role for career State Department experts, whom he regarded as too soft for the hard job of remaking Iraq, and whom his subordinates assumed (incorrectly) to be uniformly dismissive of the prospects for democracy in Iraq. Initially, Rumsfeld did not know who Bodine was [ed. note: a former, widely respected U.S. Ambassador to Yemen], but he and his senior staff were nevertheless uninterested in her expertise. When Bodine briefed the defense secretary in mid-March, just before the war began, she explained the urgent need to figure out a way to make sure Iraqi civil servants got paid in the aftermath of the war, so that government services could continue and opposition could be preempted. The operating assumption had been that the Iraqi civil servants would be in their offices after the war, ready to work, and that the occupation would have a fully functioning Iraqi government within a matter of days. Rumsfeld insisted that it didn't matter whether Iraqi civil servants got paid. "They can wait two weeks or two months," he said. What mattered, he said, was that the American taxpayer wouldn't stand for the United States paying Iraqi civil servants. When someone suggested that there would be riots in the streets if the civil servants didn't get paid, Rumsfeld replied that this could be used as leverage to get the Europeans in to pick up the burden." [emphasis added]

The sheer stupidity of this takes your breath away, doesn't it? Frankly, I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I read tales of incompetence like these so grotesquely abysmal they reek of gross negligence/reckless misconduct that rise to the criminal. And this from someone occupying such a critical position! C'mon now people, is it just Joe Biden who is going to demand this incompetent's head on a platter? Shipping Wolfowitz to the World Bank and pushing Feith out, like sacrificial lambs so Don can stick around, well it just doesn't cut it anymore in my book...

Posted by Gregory at August 17, 2005 06:38 PM | TrackBack (1)
Comments

"here's a gem from Diamond's book (pp. 30-31)"

Is there anyway to know if these quotes are accurate?

Tob

Posted by: Toby928 at August 17, 2005 07:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Rumsfeld did not know who Bodine was [ed. note: a former, widely respected U.S. Ambassador to Yemen],..."

I have not previously heard of her involvement in OIF, but I would suggest you look into her actions prior to (in allegedly supporting continued docking of US warships in Yemen as a way of improving ties with the Yemeni government, in spite of security concerns) and subsequent to the Cole bombing (in making life difficult for the US investigative team allegedly by refusing to, among other things, obtain accomodations for them) before believing her as a source. She may have, at the very least, a strong conflict-of-interest and/or vested interest in criticizing the current policy in fighting terrorism.

(links in the original posts, beginning about a fourth of the way down): http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2005/08/law-vs-war.html

"Doug said...

"Ranting Prof:
"Putting aside the fact that if that's true, you'd think the attacks on our embassies would have given him the excuse he was apparently itching for, maybe, just maybe -- and I'm just spitballing here -- he might not have wanted to support the Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, when she insisted the FBI's lead agent, John O'Neill, one of our leading experts on al Queda, not be allowed back into the country after a quick trip to brief his superiors because his aggressive approach to the investigation was upsetting the Yemenis.

"When the Ambassador argued that the size of the FBI contingent was too large, was distressing to the Yemenis, President Clinton backed her."
...UNARMED FBI, I might add, at Babs Bodine's insistence.

Here's what the head of the FBI's New York office (along with the DC office, the one with the most counterterror experience) said about the impact of O'Neill's being banned from returning to the country, by the way: By John not going back, we lost contact with the head of PSO.-MORE."
4:53 AM

more comments from the same page:

"Doug said...

Mary Jo White on O'Neill:
"But John gained the respect, and he was on the ground over there for a substantial period of time. He gained the respect gradually of the president of the highest government officials over there, and we've seen the fruits of those relationships -- and we still are.
(esp compared to Hippy Chick Bodine laying back in her Levis)
After Sept. 11, the cooperation improved even more, and that has been explicitly attributed to their respect for John O'Neill and the fact that he died.
-
[There are people] who say maybe John O'Neill harmed the effort more than he helped it.
-
No, I say not a chance they're right. His elbows made more things happen, not fewer things happen. That's not to say that, as to a particular individual, he might not have been more successful getting their cooperation with a different approach. But in the long term and across the board, he needed those elbows, and I'm glad he had them."
5:09 AM"

and

"Doug said...

" The ambassador basically just said, "Let them sleep on the floor in the ballroom, because we're not finding additional facilities for them."

And John, being a guy who always took care of his troops was just incensed that she would not try to find some sort of accommodations so that he could make his people as comfortable as possible also. Right then and there, you knew that there was going to be strife between the two, because John was going to take care of his people, and he was going to do everything he possible could to make sure that they had what they needed to conduct their investigation.
-
So what was the next problem with Bodine?
The next thing with her was guns, weapons.
.She couldn't understand why our personnel needed to be armed.
(in Yemen, where there were more guns than people!)
She wanted the weapons sent out of the country immediately. As a matter of fact, I think she even commanded that they turn in their weapons the next military flight that came through, they would all be shuttled out of the country. John wouldn't stand for that. He stood his ground on that and did win the fight.
The next battle that I recall that they had was over manpower..."
5:14 AM

Just trying to make sense out of conflicting and competing stories.

P.S. John O'Neill died on 9/11 in the WTC

Posted by: Snorri at August 17, 2005 09:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why is Rummy's failure not Bush's? Where's the accountability here? Sure, BD's called on Bush to sack him, but is that where it stops? After all, thousand on thousands of the armed forces were sent over there - that's a big enough thing in my opinion that the president should be answerable for the kinds of failures Rummy's being taken to task for - the buck stops with the President, not the Secretary of Defense.

Posted by: Enrique at August 17, 2005 09:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

I'm starting to worry about this mania you are developing about Rumsfeld. I think your choice of reading materials indicates someone reinforcing himself with tendentious polemics rather than doing what any sane person should do when in Brazil, even if you weren't on holiday.

About Cheney - enough already - he screwed up, had a gaffe, a glitch, misspoke, etc. Does anyone sincerely believe if he came out and said "I'm sorry, what I really meant was..." that the MSM or the Dem's would give him a break?

About Fred Kagan's post - the hardcore neocon's demand more troops, the "realists" demand major reductions; why not the Goldilocks option of some drawdown as the Iraqi's stand up, allowing our forces to rest and refit, and put them back in in a year where the developing situation shows they are needed? Bush is going to be Prez until 2009, he is not going to abandon Iraq, even if he does not subscribe to every tactical move we recommend from up here in the peanut gallery.

Posted by: wayne at August 17, 2005 10:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The sheer stupidity of this takes your breath away, doesn't it?

No. It doesn't. And Greg does not even attempt to explain why it should.

Frankly, this is typical of the Bush/Rumsfeld haters out there. No attempt whatsoever to back up their case - it is simply their statement of contempt, with no thought of even one iota of evidence to support their case. Intensely disappointing.

For the record, I fail to remember those disgruntled civil servants rioting in the streets because their paychecks were two weeks late. But maybe Greg will actually go to the effort to show me where I am wrong about that. [/sarcasm]

Posted by: Al at August 17, 2005 10:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In response to the previous poster named Al.....two terms for you. 1) Prima facie, and 2) "Some men you just can't reach."

I've found that those who have trouble recognizing the former often are the latter. Reactions that are both visceral and reasonable generally need little explanation......

Posted by: The Cunning Realist at August 18, 2005 01:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Um, prima facie what?

And, frankly, Greg's reaction is NOT reasonable. And, moreover, he doesn't even attempt to explain why we should consider it to be. I really don't see what anyone gets of reasoning that is solely: Something is allegedly bad in Iraq, therefore Rumsfeld is incompetent.

Posted by: Al at August 18, 2005 02:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Couldn't agree more, Al. I come back after a week out at the NTC, and this place looks like the DailyKOS. Pulled the Archived month of March for perspective , just to make sure it wasn't me. After all, I'm not 'necessarily one of his favorite commenters'.

You know what, this place is rapidly becoming not necessarily one of my favorite places to read well reasoned argument from a lawyer.

Can you define a genral tipping point, because I can: The 'CPF' at DemArs.

Posted by: Tommy G at August 18, 2005 02:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So you're saying that because y'all aren't inclined to charge your mind, Greg can't change his? Hm.

Posted by: Ned Raggett at August 18, 2005 02:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tommy, after your last response to me I highly doubt you have any kind of military experience, but if you are in fact in the Army and support Rumsfeld, man, I don't know what's going on in your head.

I've sat and listened to senior level Army and Marine officers and CPA officials describe interactions exactly like the one Greg recounts. A quote from one Army colonel that sticks in my mind, "the day Rumsfeld leaves the Pentagon will be a great day for America." Same gentleman described planning conferences about troop levels where the civilian leadership would demand fewer forces and a quick withdrawal, while military leaders would have to carefully and repeatedly make their case just to keep the forces that were already in theater. And then the next week, they'd find that those forces had been ordered removed, and would have to go through the same drill all over again.

You want to go back as far as the force cap for Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, Rumsfeld's been screwing stuff up. He's arrogant, he's ideological, and he does not listen to anyone else. He will go down in history as one of the worst wartime leaders America has ever had.

Posted by: T-Bone at August 18, 2005 02:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rumfeld's greatest flaw remains arrogance. He and his small imperial staff believe that they know better than everyone else and therefore see no point in wasting time seeking input from others. The Pentagon brass that challenged this approach early on found it to be a career ending move.

Rumsfeld and his team had no clue what was heading for them in Phase IV but that's not the bad part. The bad part is that because they didn't know, they couldn't conceive that anyone else would.

If you don't understand why paying the civil servants was important, you don't understand the lessons of OIF Phase IV. This puts you in worse shape than Rumsfeld who now does understand this -- or at least is tolerating an Army Chief of Staff who does. That's the stupidity Greg was referring to.

P.S. The point of the quotes was Rumsfeld's reaction to a State Department recommendation. It doesn't matter whether it was Barbara Bodine or Geoff Bodine or Bo Diddly. Snorry, trying to smear Bodine in order to somehow defend Rummy is the most pathetic sort of partisanship. Not what we are here for. Go to the internet sludge board for that. And don't argue that the attack on Rummy was partisan -- he's widely despised by both parties.

Posted by: POTUS B at August 18, 2005 09:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rumfeld's greatest flaw remains arrogance. He and his small imperial staff believe that they know better than everyone else and therefore see no point in wasting time seeking input from others. The Pentagon brass that challenged this approach early on found it to be a career ending move.

Rumsfeld and his team had no clue what was heading for them in Phase IV but that's not the bad part. The bad part is that because they didn't know, they couldn't conceive that anyone else would.

If you don't understand why paying the civil servants was important, you don't understand the lessons of OIF Phase IV. This puts you in worse shape than Rumsfeld who now does understand this -- or at least is tolerating an Army Chief of Staff who does. That's the stupidity Greg was referring to.

P.S. The point of the quotes was Rumsfeld's reaction to a State Department recommendation. It doesn't matter whether it was Barbara Bodine or Geoff Bodine or Bo Diddly. Snorry, trying to smear Bodine in order to somehow defend Rummy is the most pathetic sort of partisanship. Not what we are here for. Go to the internet sludge board for that. And don't argue that the attack on Rummy was partisan -- he's widely despised by both parties.

Posted by: POTUS B at August 18, 2005 09:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

al: 3 words.

Res. Ipsa. Loquitur.

Posted by: greg at August 18, 2005 10:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

T-Bone I'd say, "Remind me", because I don't recall responding to you - except that this is not our place.

Did you have something relevant to the Al's observation that you'd like to discuss? Because I've got nothing to add to your anecdote.

Posted by: Tommy G at August 19, 2005 07:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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