December 04, 2005

Memo to Secretary Rumsfeld: You Break It, You Own It

Our increasingly disgraceful Secretary of Defense at the podium last week:

Q If I may follow up. To what extent do you think these allegations of abuses by the Iraqi security forces, particularly some of the complaints and allegations from Sunni Iraqis that the largely Shi'a security forces are engaged in abuses, to what extent do you think that's an indicator that the Iraqi military -- Iraqi security forces are not yet ready to assume control of the country?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don't think it is. I mean, you're going to have allegations back and forth. We're deeply concerned by -- that there could be conflict among the various elements in that country after the end of major combat operations, and there hasn't been, and that's a good thing. First of all, what we're doing is we're prejudging these remarks and allegations and reports, and I just can't do that. And what's going to happen is the Iraqi government is going to be formed after the December 15th election in two weeks -- whatever -- and it'll be seated by the 31st of December. The --

Q So it's your sense that these abuses are not a widespread problem that threaten the --

SEC. RUMSFELD: I -- my sense is I don't know. And it's obviously something that one has to be attentive to. It's obviously something that the -- General Casey and his troops are attentive to and have to be concerned about. It -- I'm not going to be judging it from 4,000 miles away -- how many miles away? --

GEN. PACE: It's a long ways.

SEC. RUMSFELD: It's a long way -- 5,000, 6,000 maybe.

Yeah?

Q General Pace, there have been some critics who have said that you don't have enough troops to do this clear, hold and build strategy, especially along the border between Iraq and Syria. Do you --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Could I just -- stop right there. Please, let me just -- stop right there. Anyone who takes those three words and thinks it means the United States should clear and the United States should hold and the United States should build doesn't understand the situation. It is the Iraqis' country. They've got 28 million people there. They are clearing, they are holding, they are building. They're going to be the ones doing the reconstruction in that country --

Q Mr. Secretary, Senator --

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- and we do not have -- with 160,000 troops there -- the idea that we could do that is so far from reality. Nor was there any intention that we should do that.

Q Senator McCain suggested you don't have enough troops, U.S. troops and Iraqi forces that are qualified to be able to hold those areas, clear them and build them. Can you address that, and can you talk about perhaps some specifics in recent weeks where that may have been happening?

GEN. PACE: I think what you see most recently are the examples of the operations that have been taking place in the Euphrates Valley between Baghdad and the Syrian border. You're seeing the combination of U.S., coalition and Iraqi forces working side by side, many times with the Iraqi armed forces in the lead, taking cities from the -- I have to use the word "insurgent" because I can't think of a better word right now -- (soft laughter) -- take the --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Enemies of the Iraqi -- legitimate Iraqi government. How's that? (Laughter.)

GEN. PACE: What the secretary said. And then working along with the towns, leadership in those cities, to in fact have Iraqi police, Iraqi armed forces staying behind holding that territory for their government, and then the Iraqi government coming in and building up the infrastructure. So, very much along that model over the next coming months is what I believe we'll continue to see.

SEC. RUMSFELD: One of the biggest problems we have is, whether it's the Congress or the press or the American military --

Q How about the -- (word off mike)?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, forget the press then. Anybody. We have an orientation that tends to make us think that everything is our responsibility and that we should be doing this. It is the Iraqis’ country, 28 million of them. They are perfectly capable of running that country. They're not going to run it the way you would or I would or the way we do here in this country, but they're going to run it. And to suggest that every single thing that needs to be done in this country -- "Oh, the infrastructure's imperfectly protected; the Americans should do that, you don't have enough people to do that." Nonsense. We shouldn't have enough people to do that. It's the Iraqis' infrastructure. They're the ones who are going to suffer if the infrastructure isn't protected. "The borders can't be protected." Well, we can't protect our own border.

Q You make the point that --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Just a minute. Just a minute. Just a minute. Our problem is that any time something needs to be done, we have a feeling we should rush in and fill the vacuum and do it ourselves. You know what happens when you do that? First of all, you can't do it, because it's not our country, it's their country. And the second thing that happens is they don't develop the skills and the ability and the equipment and the orientation and the habit patterns of doing it for themselves. They have to do it for themselves. There isn't an Iraqi that comes into this country and visits with me that doesn't say that. They know that. They know that they're the ones that are going to have to grab that country. And it's time.

Q There's still a lot of training wheels on those bicycles.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure there are.

Q And you always talk about that holding the bike. But, I mean, there -- it doesn't seem like the numbers --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I think we've been passing over bases, we've been passing over real estate, we've been turning over responsibilities. I mean, what else can you do? Nothing happens at the same time in one fell swoop. This is hard stuff for them! It isn't going to be perfect. But by golly, the people who have been denigrating the Iraqi security forces are flat wrong! They've been wrong from the beginning! They're doing a darn good job and they're doing an increasingly better job every day, every week, every month, and they have to because it's their country.

Q Mr. Secretary, whenever you talk about security forces you focus primarily on the military. But what about the police? Reports that militia have either infiltrated or actually taken control of some police forces are really not a hypothetical, after all, the British had to shoot their way into Basra to retrieve a couple of their own soldiers. So what specifically is the U.S. military doing to help the Iraqis gain control of these militias within police forces and improve what has been described pretty much as an uneven performance by Iraqi police?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I forget when the Department of Defense assumed responsibility for the police.

GEN. PACE: About six months ago or so.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Maybe six months ago? So the data we have on it is nowhere near as good as the data we have on the Ministry of Defense forces. The Ministry of Interior forces, which the police are under, have been reporting up through the Department of State previously. And we're getting our arms around it. And some of the things that need to be done is to better connect the police with the Department of Defense forces so that they have a better connection. Some of the things that need to be done is to better connect the intelligence information with the police so that they can do a better job.

One of the big distinctions is the Iraqi military and Ministry of Defense forces have been hired nationwide and they're a mixture of Sunni and Shi'a and Kurds. The police forces function in a local area only, and they tend to be recruited from the local area. So there tends to naturally be a concentration of the population -- the nature of the population that exists in the area where that police district is. So that shouldn't come -- that's the same in our country. So that shouldn't come as a surprise. The police in Chicago or Los Angeles or New York tend to be people from that area. You know, the military in our country tends to come from all across the country, and that's a good thing.

Q And -- but fighting the insurgency --

SEC. RUMSFELD: But our data is not as good.

Q But aren't the police just as critical in fighting the insurgency?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure. They're terribly important.

Q You have to begin at the street level, don't you?

SEC. RUMSFELD: They're terribly important, no question.

I've now come to the point where the continued inability of President Bush (who, after all, is our Commander in Chief) to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for his repeated near dereliction of duty and (just shy of) criminal negligence have pushed me to a bursting point. It's not that I regret my criticisms of John Kerry, whom I believe never cared about the outcome of the war in Iraq in any serious, basic way and would have presided over a 'cut and run' as very quickly as possible. It's more that I should have remained on the sidelines, rather than support George W Bush in the pages of this blog. He didn't deserve my humble efforts here, I have learned the hard way. In the main, this is because of two major factors: 1) his inability to hold Rumsfeld accountable, and 2) his kow-towing to Dick Cheney on the torture issue where the clear way ahead is that of John McCain, and Victor Davis Hanson, and Thomas Kean, and so many other adult, responsible Republicans (who realize, if merely from an utilitarian perspective alone, putting aside the critical moral issues, what a disaster our detainee policy has been on so many levels). But look, through it all, my fundamental focus has been attempting to advocate policies that I thought would help us see through the war in Iraq to the very best of our abilities, and I've made my political and foreign policy choices based on my most considered judgments on this score. Even today, with Zalmay Khalilzad in Baghdad and Condeeleeza Rice at the State Department, and with our commanders on the ground in Iraq--I see significant improvement in the status of the so important train and equip program, in terms of gaining more Sunni buy-in into the political process, in terms of working with the Shi'a to attempt to enshrine basic minority rights and stave off crude majoritarianism, in terms of using Chalabi to rein in Sadr, in terms of keeping the sleeper issue of Kurdish federalism in check, in terms of containing flashpoints like Kirkuk. I see progress, real progress, put simply. Progress that was more likely under Bush than Kerry, and by a significant margin indeed.

But anyone who thinks we are now just in some 'closer' phase in Iraq--if only the Safireian nattering nabobs of negativism would just shut up domestically so we don't, as the saying goes, lose the war on the home front--well they've got their heads up their collective arses. The risks of defeat in Iraq are still very real--if we define defeat as falling short of our goal of leaving behind in Iraq a well-functioning, democratic polity that is unitary and viable. This is a still massively ambitious goal, with many years indeed left of real struggle if we mean to really secure it adequately. And we have someone manning the Defense Department in Donald Rumsfeld who clearly doesn't understand this (or if he perhaps does, as he's very intelligent, he nevertheless refuses to acknowledge it the better so as to facilitate a too hasty late '06/early '07 Iraqification--so he can pursue other pet projects and goals at the Pentagon). For this reason, of which more below, he must go.

Let's just take a quick look at this one press conference. Andrew Sullivan has already chronicled his far too sanguine and hands-off (if predictable) reaction to reports of torture taking place in facilities under the control of the new Iraqi government. Chairman of the Joints Chief Pace had to part company with Rummy on the issue, as the Sully quote well showcases. And another keen-eyed blogger sketches out Rumsfeld's disingenuousness and Clintonian-style word parsing here (Rummy and Cheney can swap word play parsing tips over their porches near Annapolis on the weekends, perhaps--I say 'last throes' Don, but you say 'enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government'!). But there is so much more in this press conference which is damning too, and I'd like to highlight it here today.

1) Rumsfeld doesn't even know when the Defense Department assumed responsibility for the Iraqi police--as the relevant portion of the press conference above indicates. He hasn't quite gotten his "arms around it", as he puts it, because, you see, State was running the ball before. Remember, the very kernel of our exit strategy is Iraqification, namely how quickly we have qualified Iraqi Army and Police forces able to maintain internal security there. Back in August, Rumsfeld didn't even know (or pretended not to as the number would have been so embarrasingly low) how many Iraqi Army units were capable of operating independently without any American support. Now this past week he basically doesn't have a clue when asked how to deal with the likely endemic militiazation of many Iraqi police force units.

But it's worse than this. It would be OK if we had a Defense Secretary who said it's going to be a bitch of a job, we have a tough task at hand indeed, I'm fully apprised of the situation, and I'm going to do all I can to get it done to the very best of my abilities. But Rumsfeld's default position is always to prefer to avoid any real responsibility. He seemingly revels in showcasing a certain nonchalance and what the French call je-m'en-foutisme. The Iraqi Army, you see, is doin' pretty hunky-dory. Cuz the Pentagon's been running that. But we've just gotten started with the Iraqi police forces, see, so the going is a bit rougher there. It's State's fault, really. Message: Kinda a drag, but we're (ugh) gonna start dealing with it--now that we have too.

But what bunk, all this, regardless! Rummy has had the main run of Iraq reconstruction until, finally, State was allowed to come and clean up some of his dismal messes after the first 18 months of the rampant clusterf*&k he presided over--often like a reckless, hubris-ridden amateur. Here is a Defense Secretary who didn't even game-plan for an insurgency (little wonder he doesn't like to use the word!). Here is a Defense Secretary who, when asked why he didn't want to pay the salaries of Iraqi government workers (so as to help stabilize some of the chaos that took root in post-war Iraq), responded that the images of rioting civil servants would have the salutary effect of causing the Euros to step in and pay their salaries instead! Here is a Defense Secretary who presided over the biggest moral disgrace to American forces in uniform since My Lai. Here is an occupation leader that declared 'stuff happens,' amidst the eruption of massive looting and chaos in the country's principal city, and was so tone-deaf as to only place American forces in front of the Oil Ministry! Yes, the catalogue of gross negligence is long, it's ugly, it's farcical Keystone Kops fare at times. So really, what is he still doing in his job? Who is kidding who here? Guess the sad joke is on us...

But there is more. Remember Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it. Same thing if you come in and disband it--like, say, the Iraqi Army (remember Bremer, who issued the order to disband the Iraqi Army, was a Rumsfeld-approved pick, and Bremer reported to Rumsfeld). Now a few years out Iraqi security forces, the main engine underpinning our exit strategy, are nowhere near being able to decisively prevail against the insurgents. On top of this, if we rush the job, we may be in reality training an Army that will then turn upon itself in a sectarian blood-bath, as Henry Kissinger and others have warned. Kenneth Pollack adds:

For Kenneth Pollack at the Saban Center that is not enough. He says Iraq has many other problems that are not being addressed because of the focus on the insurgency -- including, he says, growing organized crime, ethnic militias that harass and kidnap people from rival ethnic groups, and a corrupt and inadequate government structure that is incapable of keeping the troops supplied and combat-ready without substantial U.S. support.

"We are still years away from being at a stage where the Iraqi armed forces will be capable of handling the security missions in Iraq by themselves," he said.

Yes, years. If we had honest leaders they would just come out and tell us this. But we don't.

2) Then there are breath-taking comments like these: "We have an orientation that tends to make us think that everything is our responsibility and that we should be doing this. It is the Iraqis’ country, 28 million of them. They are perfectly capable of running that country. They're not going to run it the way you would or I would or the way we do here in this country, but they're going to run it. And to suggest that every single thing that needs to be done in this country -- "Oh, the infrastructure's imperfectly protected; the Americans should do that, you don't have enough people to do that." Nonsense. We shouldn't have enough people to do that. It's the Iraqis' infrastructure. They're the ones who are going to suffer if the infrastructure isn't protected. "The borders can't be protected." Well, we can't protect our own border."

Can you imagine the depth of the hubris and arrogance and shamelessness behind such comments? Securing the infrastructure of the country is a critical part of allowing for conditions of stability to take root there. And it's "nonsense" that we should "have enough people to do that"?!? No, I'm not saying we have to protect every last mile of pipeline there, of course. But you need to have at least adequately secured some of the basic infrastructure when you come in and occupy a country. No, this is just utter bullshit and abdication of responsibility on an epic, truly breath-taking scale. It's an international embarrassment is what it is. Again, folks, repeat after me: 'you break it, you own it'.

3) Relatedly, there is this bit: "Could I just -- stop right there. Please, let me just -- stop right there. Anyone who takes those three words and thinks it means the United States should clear and the United States should hold and the United States should build doesn't understand the situation. It is the Iraqis' country. They've got 28 million people there. They are clearing, they are holding, they are building. They're going to be the ones doing the reconstruction in that country...and we do not have -- with 160,000 troops there -- the idea that we could do that is so far from reality. Nor was there any intention that we should do that."

Rumsfeld might prefer to keep running McNamara-esque metrics and whack-a-mole in Mesopotamia, but the strategy of these United States, now that State has helped get a better counter-insurgency strategy in place is, lest we forget, as follows according to the President's very own Victory Strategy: "The Security Track involves carrying out a campaign to defeat the terrorists and neutralize the insurgency, developing Iraqi security forces, and helping the Iraqi government: Clear areas of enemy control by remaining on the offensive, killing and capturing enemy fighters and denying them safe-haven; Hold areas freed from enemy influence by ensuring that they remain under the control of the Iraqi government with an adequate Iraqi security force presence; and Build Iraqi Security Forces and the capacity of local institutions to deliver services, advance the rule of law, and nurture civil society."

The Iraqis can't convincingly take the lead on this three-pronged counter-insurgency strategy just yet, alas, as serious observers well realize, so you better believe it's our Defense Department's responsibility to, at very least, clear and hold, and likely help build too. Again, however, no basic assumption of responsibility. It's like we are fighting a war with one arm tied behind our back, a recalcitrant Defense Secretary who wants nothing better than to get as many troops out as quickly as possible, results and policy objectives be damned, so as to move on to things more important in Rummy-land, whatever transformationalist nostrums du jour and what have you. Not only that, but we are also forced to be subjected to his messy try-outs of troop-lite strategy and skewed assumptions about nation-building that result from overly hyped concerns about fostering 'dependency'--among key actors in a state we are meant to secure and help democratize. (Let's worry about too much 'dependency' after we've better remediated conditions of rampant miliziation in Kurdish and Shi'a areas, resilient insurgency in Sunni ones, and frequent near-chaos in major urban centers).

4) Finally, at least in terms of chronicling the parade of horribles in this one press conference, there is this exchange: "It's [alleged Shi'a abuses/torture of Sunni detainees] obviously something that the -- General Casey and his troops are attentive to and have to be concerned about. It -- I'm not going to be judging it from 4,000 miles away -- how many miles away? -- GEN. PACE: It's a long ways. SEC. RUMSFELD: It's a long way -- 5,000, 6,000 maybe."

Translation: Abu Ghraib was far-away too. Thousands of miles. How can we, as leaders, be held responsible for the abuses of the troops under our command, or our local allies that we've similarly insufficiently trained and monitored. Why should I bother to seriously consider the massive harm such events have done to our international reputation and credibility? It's below me, you see? And I'm so far away anyway. Again, the Rumsfeldian default position: not my issue, not my problem. Simply not my responsibility. This is why I speak of near criminal negligence and dereliction of duty. Leaders, if the word means anything, must accept a modicum of responsibility for failures that occur on their watch--especially when so many of said failures result from muddled and erroneous policy-making stemming from the top-down. No, Rumsfeld needs to be fired. Until the President does so, and walks Cheney back on torture policy, he will not have this teensy-weensy blogger's support anymore. We've reached our bursting point, and we bid the Administration au revoir. This is not to say that I will not support Bush's efforts in Iraq, which I continue to maintain are superior to what the opposition party has on offer. But his seeming inability to call key subordinates to task--for shortcomings I truly believe are imperiling the war effort--forces me to part company. So, is it just 36 months to the next election?

Posted by Gregory at December 4, 2005 07:11 PM | TrackBack (3)
Comments

Reluctantly, I have to say I agree with every word. My only consolation is that I thought Bush was a sock puppet for our generations' Mark Hanna's from the beginning. Someone should write a book about the political science corrollary to Gresham's Law -- why do political primaries always favor the inferior driving out the superior from circulation?

Posted by: wayne at December 4, 2005 08:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You're a tool, Greg.

Those of us voting for Kerry who generally agreed with you that cut and run isn't the answer knew that the Dems who would advocate leaving ASAP wouldn't hold Congress and wouldn't sway the media machine that the Republicans have built.

I never understood your great hopes that things would get better in a second term, when no one will have any ability to hold Bush accountable for anything. He DOESN'T CARE. He's got nothing to lose and nothing to win. He's got no obvious successor for a presidential candidate who will be working from within to keep the President accountable and furthermore this batch of Congressional and Senate Republicans don't want to hold the administration accountable for ANYTHING.

But, I believed that you knew something we didn't, that either through your father or your own connections you were hearing about positive personnel changes. I even wanted to believe your hopes for the new alignment of Rice and Cheney and Hadley.

It's pretty clear now and clear in your post that the problem begins at the top. We could've held a Kerry administration accountable. We (citizens and politicians who believe the "break it, buy it" rule) could've put enough pressure on them to stay, finish, and improve the U.S. policy in Iraq to better reflect the goals that you seem to believe in re: iraq.

This is why, while I respect your late conversion, I'm very disappointed in the late converters, especially those, like yourself, that ridiculed the early converts.

Posted by: just me at December 4, 2005 09:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The concept of "Reformer's Paradox" has been around at least since Vietnam. It's sort of a corolary to to Heisenberg's "Uncertainty Principal". One you start messing around, you acquire moral and ethical responsibilities for having changed the status quo ante.

That's why I find arguments about whether or not intervention in Iraq was justified to be, essentially, stupid.

We went in. We certainly changed the status quo ante. We have a responsibility--a moral and ethical responsibility--to not just walk away and say "Aw, shucks!"

Rumsfeld is a dick, he's been a dick most of his professional career--admittedly, amusing at times, even competent at times. But he screwed up big-time in his prewar assessment of was postwar Iraq was going to look like. He did not take the proper measures to mitigate the predictable disasters and still seems to be in denial. Dick.

Posted by: John Burgess at December 4, 2005 09:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is this what passes for exegesis at BD these days? You sound positively deranged.

Posted by: Judith Hanes at December 4, 2005 11:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And when you are inaugurated as President I'm sure you will fix all such shortfalls immediately (you'll certainly be runnng through a lot of Defense Secretaries).

Posted by: ZF at December 4, 2005 11:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rumsfeld says it's not an insurgency, but rather, "Enemies of the Iraqi -- legitimate Iraqi government."

I wish I had been at the press conferece so I could have said, "About the term "insurgency." A good number of months ago our military determined we were facing an insurgency, and so since then it has been following well-accepted principles of counter-insurgency warfare.

"Now you are saying it's not an insurgency, but rather a group of enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government. That seems to imply we should not be following the rules of counter-insurgency warfare. Is that right? And if so, what should the rules be? Or if you think the rules should be the same, then why are you bothered over what we are calling it?"

I think the problem is that Rumsfeld just doesn't want to face the fact that there is an insurgency going in Iraq. I remember that at the end of 2003, when our troups had been attacked by well-organized fighters for at least six months, he continued to insist that there was no insurgency, just a handfull of dead-enders. I

think the underlying problem for Rumsfeld is that fighting an insurgency takes a lot of boots on the ground, whereas his entire project at defense has been to drastically reduce manpower and replace it with high-tech weapons that are nearly useless against an insurgency.

Thomas Barnett argues that in today's world we need both types of forces:
http://www.command-post.org/oped/2_archives/018611.html

Posted by: Les Brunswick at December 5, 2005 01:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bush takes Cheney out of the loop on national security: "...sources said Mr. Bush has privately blamed Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the U.S.-led war in Iraq. They said the president has told his senior aides that the vice president and defense secretary provided misleading assessments on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, as well as the capabilities of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

"As a result, the sources said, Mr. Cheney has been ousted from his role as the administration's point man in the area of national security. They said presidential staffers have kept Mr. Cheney out of the loop on discussions on policy as the White House has struggled with the political and intelligence fallout from the war in Iraq.

"Mr. Bush is not expected to replace Mr. Cheney unless the vice president follows the fate of his former chief of staff. The sources also said Mr. Rumsfeld is expected to remain in his post until U.S. troops are withdrawn from Iraq."

Posted by: carabinieri at December 5, 2005 01:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

People should judge Iraq on what is happening in Iraq. Not on what is said, or not said, in a press conference in Washington, D.C.

After the Iraqi elections, and after an Iraqi government is formed, we will all have a better chance to form reasonable opinions.

Right now, the opponents of the USA in Iraq are doing their best to make things look bad. That should be considered when we try to determine what is happening and how we should react to it. For my bit, I think we are doing better than people in the US think. This is a guess, but then, so are the rest of these opinions.

Posted by: rich at December 5, 2005 02:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I never understood comments from readers who start off attacking the writer. "A tool" ? gets me, reading his bio, it seems he is far from a tool,and reading the analysis he gives in day in and day out, just proves even more so, not to sit here and defend him, but come on. I mean, comment away, but to attak the writer just turns of others from reading the rest of you comment

As for the post, when reading Greg's support of the administration back in the day, I read and just shook my head saying, he will regret this.

Posted by: robert at December 5, 2005 02:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

you wrote:

"... to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for his repeated near dereliction of duty (just shy of) criminal negligence have pushed me to a bursting point...."

this is LAUGHABLE. TAKE A DEEP FRIGGIN' BREATH MAH BOY!

COMMENTER Judith Hanes is 100% right! when she writes:
"Is this what passes for exegesis at BD these days? You sound positively deranged."

Dereliction?! Sheesh: you often talk about hyperbolic BS of folks who want to "whack tyrants like Assad." Well your CONSTANTLY expressed desire to "whack" Rumsfeld is more useless and insane!

the USA - via the Dod or CIA or any other BUREAUCRACY - cannot make Iraq perfect. and we shouldn;t try.

and I'm glad we didn';t send 600,000 troops there as that a--hole Shinseki wanted in order to try!

it would've juist made us a bigger fatter target.

we have worked MIRACLES in Iraq -from start to finish. The war and post-ewar have gone bettewr than any similar effort anywhere VERE. nopt perfect. but best ever.

REPEAZT: not perfect but BETTER THAN ANY SIMILAR EFFORT EVER IN ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY. Better than post-WW2 Europe or Asia.
Better than South Korea. Or anywhere else.

It's the best friggin conversion from tyranny to democracy of all friggin time. THAT IS A FACT.

Rumsfeld help make that happen.

For that, he is a GIANT. A WORLD CLASS HERO!

And for critiquing him as you do: you are a fool.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

buh-byeee!

Posted by: relaipundit at December 5, 2005 02:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What exactly did we "break" Greg?

A tyranical dictatorship responsible for hundreds of thousands of murders, assorted and well catalogued grusome crimes and the repeated attack of its neighbors.

This was something intact in your view?

The US, and our coalition partners, have done much for Iraq, the arab region and the entire world in the last few years

We have helped in many ways - but we don't "own" Iraq ala the Pottery Barn rule ( imagine if we said we did! )

Like post war Germany and Japan and Korea it will be up to the Iraqi people to succeed or fail

Or are Iraqi's not capable in your opinion

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at December 5, 2005 03:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

No, Pogue, that would be my opinion. Greg is the one who believes that the Iraqis are capable, because they must be capable. We should all hope I'm wrong, and he is right.

In fairness to Rumsfeld, the passages Greg quotes do suggest he has a pretty good grasp of where the problems with militia infiltration are greatest, which is in the police and the Interior Minstry, not the Army. Senior officers have been briefing on this point for months, so he should be aware of it.

Posted by: JEB at December 5, 2005 04:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

pogue is right.
iraqis are better off.

look at it this way:"

1 - we won iraq its freedom.

2 - now we and the iraqis are toegther securing their freedom.

3 - soon - 2007 - the iraqis will have to defend it, (with only our advice and air support).

that is a good thing.

those who bemoan and bemoan and bemoan and bemoan the ongoing attacks miss the big picture.

the insurrectionists - whether sunni/jihaidist/or baathist - cannot win.
it is IMPOSSIBLE for them to retake iraq.

they are using the SAME EXACT VIOLENCE THEY USED TO RUN IRAQ.
only now, the do so without the apparatus of a police state.

at least 400,000 iraqis were MURDERED by the state under saddam.

fewer are being murdered by his cohorts now. far far far fewer.

their means are more gruesome now ONLY IN A PUBLIC SENSE.
before the murders and the torture and the rape-rooms were secret - IN LARGE EFFIN' MEASURE BECAUSE LIBERAL TURDS LIKE WALTER ISAACSON AND EASON JORDAN AND THAT BRAHIMI CHICK AT CNN COVERED IT UP! they have admitted as much.

now the sunni/jihadi/baathist killing sprees make headlines.
but they CANNOT POSSIBLY WIN.

the enemy in iraq numbers less than 10% of the sunnis and the sunnis number less than 20% of iraq.

2% of iraq's population cannot POSSIBLY defeat the KURDS - who have a militia of 400,000 - or the Shias.

the kurds and the Shias WILL NEVER EVER go back to being under the heel of the baathist/sunni/jihadis/ NEVER.

it may take a decade for the ENEMY to run out of steam, but if we stand by Iraq, then they will weather the storm.

so stop whining, greg.

Posted by: relaipundit at December 5, 2005 04:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pogue, what we broke was Iraq's security infrastructure. Yes, it was a morally terrible system, but there was a certain order which kept the everyday Iraqi free from suicide bombers, kidnappers, insurgents, etc. While it's wonderful that we've gotten rid of a terrible ruler, we cannot in good conscience simply walk away and leave the Iraqi citizens with a complete absence of basic law enforcement.

And I think it's clear that Greg, along with most sane people, does not believe the Iraqis are capable of doing this on their own. Who decides which people could become police officers? Who weeds out potential insurgent infiltrators? Who trains them? Who supports them until they have gained some relevant experience? Who pays for it all?

If you left all that up to regular Iraqis to figure out for themselves in the middle of a full-blown insurgency, what chance would they have?

You can't just gloss over matters like that. Details matter.

Which is why I am as appalled as Greg at Rumsfeld's apparent self-satisfaction with his own indifference.

Posted by: Jason at December 5, 2005 04:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, do you think it's possible that Rummy was laying the groundwork to blame State for the death squad issue?

Posted by: praktike at December 5, 2005 04:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And relaipundit, while the caps are nice, the exclamation marks suffice.

Posted by: Jason at December 5, 2005 04:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, what besides your anti-Democratic prejudices, makes you think that Kerry would be "cutting and running"? He sure as hell hasn't endorse Murtha's proposal, now has he?

What Kerry would have done is enlisted the international community in the effort to "fix" what Bush had screwed up so badly --- and because he wasn't George W. Bush, he could have achineved that.

And don't blame Rumsfeld -- sure, Rumsfeld is an idiot, but he is taking his marching orders from the idiot in the Oval Office. Anyone who hadn't figured out, after the obvious planning debacle that gave the insurgency time to solidify, that Bush is completely unsuited for the Presidency deserves to go to Iraq, and patrol some Sunni areas. This is YOUR mess, the blood of thousands of Americans and tens of thousand of Iraqis is on YOUR hands, and if you had a shred of common sense three years ago you would have supported ANYONE but Bush in 2004.

Posted by: lukasiak at December 5, 2005 06:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"It's an international embarrassment is what it is."

Iä!

This piece really brightened my morning (and it needed it -- bloody Swedish winters).

Posted by: Anders Widebrant at December 5, 2005 07:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

robert, you're right. Apologies for the name calling, but my reaction to this post was pretty visceral.

I wonder if Greg does really regret it yet? Or if he's still getting there?

Posted by: just me at December 5, 2005 07:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

robert, you're right. Apologies for the name calling, but my reaction to this post was pretty visceral.

I wonder if Greg does really regret it yet? Or if he's still getting there?

Posted by: just me at December 5, 2005 07:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Disgraced?!?!

Hmmm, does that sort of bizzare and tenuous grip on reality come from a socialist upbringing?

Posted by: russ at December 5, 2005 11:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The basic problem is, as someone commented on another blog: Democrats -- the best reason to vote Republican. Until Democrats can demonstrate grasp of the situation, they seem more dangerous than what we have now. You think I voted for GWB because I wanted him?

For example -- about torture: Anyone who resorts to "no rules" behavior can expect that others can resort to the same behavior. Not to understand that demonstrates lack of a decent grasp. Having said that, it should be our position not to use torture -- and to oppose its use by others, because people who can project the advantages of civil society should champion it as a framework for social interaction open to all who choose to follow its minimum requirements.

Fuzzy-headed people can't get beyond the first premise -- that torture is on the table. They never hear the second sentence, "But we choose not to use it." They blather on about "rights." Horsefeathers! In the end, both sides drag on the bleating because neither side clearly states the point.

Posted by: sbw at December 5, 2005 01:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I thought I'd add that while Rumsfeld has asked to resign Bush hasn't let him, perhaps enforcing his won version of the Pottery Barn Rule.

Posted by: jeryy at December 5, 2005 01:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

greg

I think it would be a very poor idea to have US troops guarding pipelines. And indeed, even in Anbar, the strategy seems to be to have US troops clear, and Iraqis hold.

Given A. Constraints on the number of US troops available B. The need for Iraqis to take control C. The need to make clear to ordinary Iraqis that this is NOT an indefinite US occupation
this strategy seems to make sense. It really does.


Now maybe US forces wont go to zero for years. Maybe we need to ride herd on the Iraqi interior ministry on the militia issue. Maybe Rummy is an obnoxious liar. Maybe you shouldnt have voted for Bush (I wrote in the name of a prominent Democrat hawk) But I dont see that any of that is central to the strategic decisions facing us right now, which involve how many troops (if any) to net withdraw in the next 6 months, and how to deploy those who remain.

Posted by: liberalhawk at December 5, 2005 03:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Commentators like Greg and Andrew Sullivan who have unleashed all their vitriol against Rumsfeld and Bush for all of their screw-ups in Iraq have an easy target -- they will always fall back on the argument that if we had only done x, y and z, things would be so much better. If we had only sent in 600,000 troops, the Sunnis and former Saddamists would now be singing kumbaya with the Shiites. We did not invade Vermont, gentlemen. A little historical perspective would be welcome.

Posted by: Jim at December 5, 2005 04:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

greg's and sullivan's and others critique of Rummy is nothing more than what the wackos said about AshKKKroft in the first term.

rummy: second term::ashcroft : first term.

it is meaningless baseless idiotic tinfoil hat criticism.

Posted by: reliapundit at December 5, 2005 04:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Pogue, what we broke was Iraq's security infrastructure. Yes, it was a morally terrible system, BUT there was a certain order which kept the everyday Iraqi free from suicide bombers, kidnappers, insurgents, etc." Jason

Ah - the inevitable BUT

Jason - the very idea that the stability and security of Saddams Iraq was in any way preferable to the Iraq of the future - or even of the present - is frankly offensive

The blunt truth is that life for most ordinary Iraqi's was not safe or secure - any deviation real or imagined- from the regime was dealt with in horrific ways. I won't catalogue them here - I understand there is a Black Book of Saddams Iraq coming out - maybe you can check it out.

It is your PERCEPTION that is altered - because of the news coverage and recent events

"Insurgents" blow up a mosque and kill 20 innocents in 2005 - thats news and you make note of it

Saddam obliterates a village in 1982 for disloyalty - bet it never made page 36 in your local paper

And the really ugly truth is - were we not in Iraq today, had we not toppled Saddam in 2003, then the same sorts of events to this day would not make page 36 in your local paper


We did not break Iraq's "security infrastructure" Jason

The Iraqi people were not secure at all - their lives, and those of their families ( know about the bills sent to the families for the bullets used to execute their family members?? ) was never secure.

The could be wiped out at any time - if they weren't slaughtered in some useless war started by Saddam

The best they could hope for is to continue to live in fear under Uday - ala N Korea's model today


Now its quite easy to wax philososphical about the wonderful "security infrastructure" Iraq had under Saddam from the comfort of your safe and really secure home in the democratic west - but I would offer that most Iraqi's have a very different view about how secure they were under Saddam

State sponsored terror that didn't make the news killed many many times more people that any efforts by the "insurgents" has to date

This is a fact

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at December 5, 2005 05:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pogue, you are deliberately misconstruing my comments. I am not an apologist for Saddam - it's interesting that you stopped quoting me right before I said that it was wonderful that we removed him. And when on earth did I say that Saddam's system was preferable to a free, democratic Iraq, which is what we all want?

So, let me reitterate - I'm glad we went in and removed him. But we had also taken away the method by which police were selected and trained. Yes, it was a very very very bad method. But it did provide some semblance of security against random criminality. Can you really not see this?

And the reason that there is more reporting of the violence right now is that it is due in large part to our having gone in there. I do agree with you that there should be more coverage of atrocities whether we are involved or not, but it just doesn't happen. (Darfur anyone?)

Anyway, my point is that once we took away a (bad) method for setting up law enforcement, whose responsibility is it to rebuild a better one in its place? In your post that I was initially responding to, you said that we don't "own" Iraq now, implying that you feel it's not our job.

So, let's make sure I'm not misconstuing your point. To clarify, do you believe that after going in and getting rid of Saddam, then that's the end of our responsibility? Or do we owe it to the Iraqis to stay and help them rebuild?

Posted by: Jason at December 5, 2005 08:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Welcome to the other side, Belgravia. Do wish you had gotten here before, say, November 2004 when there was something of an "accountability moment."

Not to worry, though, GWB will bring the troops home in time to make it a campaign issue in 2006. That's all that it will be, because apart from taking out Saddam, that is all it has ever been for the folks at the very top. They put the elephant above the Stars and Stripes, and make careers out of suckering people who don't.

Posted by: Doug at December 5, 2005 10:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

Great analysis, really enjoy your insights, even when you are beating up on my hero Rummy. But when you burst, you really burst. This line, for example:

"Here is a Defense Secretary who presided over the biggest moral disgrace to American forces in uniform since My Lai. "

I suppose you are referring to Abu Ghraib. The Army's final estimate was 347 civilians murdered at My Lai. http://www.bartleby.com/65/my/MyLaiinc.html

That's quite a wide spectrum of disgrace there. In fact, to even put "My Lai" and "Abu Ghraib" in the same argument as if they are comparable stretches comparison to bursting.

Maybe My Lai to Waco would be comparable. But thanks for throwing that in, it helps me contextualize the rest of your commentary, on the other side of bursting.

You seem to take as much umbrage with Rumsfeld's dismissive tone toward the suicidally depressive hounds of the press, as you do with his management of this war. Once again, you are stretching the spectrum to bursting.

Anyway, you're saying Andrew Sullivan's scoop is correct, we're gonna have SecDef Lieberman soon?

Posted by: Dr. Applebreath at December 5, 2005 10:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

jeryy and Dr. A above,


I consider a proffered resignation to be on par with a drama queen's attempted suicide. You are either a mench and do it or a girlyman and prattle on about how you offered to do it. As for Abu Graib not being really all that bad -- if you've convinced yourself of that good for you, but you should be aware that your arguments are the mirror image of the tinfoil hat left. Since Saddam never actually hit any of our aircraft with his SAM missles, or actually assassinated GHW Bush, or actually toppled the WTC in 1993, or completed his promise to turn Tel Aviv into another Auschwitz, therefore none of these issues can be counted against him in our justifications for the war.

Posted by: wayne at December 6, 2005 01:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"NEAR criminal negligence?" Tell me, what more would Rumsfeld have to do to make it just "criminal negligence"?

Posted by: Chris Vaaler at December 6, 2005 02:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jason - I am not misconstruing your comments - you made a statement that cried out for refutation and I provided it.

Your idea of Saddams Iraq as a MORALLY bad place where at least people had "security" is not just absurd - its offensive

What security do people have from police who acting upon the orders of a tyranical regime come and take you away in the middle of the night to be fed through an industrial shredder - or just shot in most cases.

Did the Iraqi police maintain a sort of order? Of course they did - but is that sort of order something to be held up as better than what they have today?

I say it again - many many times MORE Iraqi's were slaughtered under that "security" than have been in the post-war period by the terrorists

Your comment left me with the impression that you felt Iraqi's were safer before we "broke it"

Do you understand why this is not the case?

As to your question

"let's make sure I'm not misconstuing your point. To clarify, do you believe that after going in and getting rid of Saddam, then that's the end of our responsibility? Or do we owe it to the Iraqis to stay and help them rebuild?"

I believe this is exactly what we are doing Jason - along with the Coalition Partners and in defiance of the Luka's of the world pissing and moaning every step of the way

This does not however mean that we "broke it" or that we "own it"

The Iraqis must take over and we cannot remain forever
Nor can we make Iraq into Vermont or Manchester before we leave, it will be a dirty and dangerous place for a long time yet, but no matter what comes next it will be better than Saddam, or Uday in charge


Posted by: Pogue Mahone at December 6, 2005 03:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg

Let me just say that along with AS and TCR your blog is one of my favoriates. While I thought that Rummy should have gone after Abu Graib, I was never much of a fan, and I fully agree with the 'broke it/ own it' argument you make; I do disagree with your endgame strategic outlook. In 10 days Iraq will have a final election and the most ligitament government in the Arab world, far more so then the farce that occured in Egypt, and the rest the region, well, lets not even get started on them.
It seems as though we can both agree that security is the biggest problem, which i break into two different problems: the insurgency/terrorist/'enemies of the Iraqi people' itself, and the country's ability to contain these attacks.
First the issue of containment. The Army is in decent shape except for the glaring lack of higher leadership to direct the thousands of infrantry men that we have trained. Not that those leaders don't exist, but most of them are either A: former Baathist B: already in the Kurdish milita or C: running the insurgency. The Iraqi's need to do more then just hold and support, they need to engage in real front line battle, its the only way to teach them real military skills and to the hone the leadership that has not gone over to the otherside. Now the police are a different stroy as we all know. (you are gonna hate to hear this but....) The best people to teach policing are not the US Marine Corp. but rather the UN. Yes, i know the orginization has many many problems, but a bad buracercy is not endemic of a bad organization. This is partially why the UN exist, and its time to bury the hatchet and reach out to those that know how to train for these type of jobs.
How do we bring them on? In the same way we bring down the Insurgency, we start to systematically withdraw, slowly. The 93% who are Iraqi's that hate American occupation will start to lose their targets. In doing so we accomplish a very important psychological feat, we make the Iraqi's hate the insurgence. Its no longer a resistance against an occupier, its becomes in the eyes of the Iraqis what we as Americans see it as, terrorism. We leave behind those who are training the Iraqi seucrity forces, and as many special ops teams as we can to rout out the Zawarqi's and other Islamic fanatics. Will there still be violence? If over a 1000 years of history are any indication, the answer is yes. But i fail to see any strategy that will totally qwell the ethnic tension that has build up over that time, for many more reasons then just Saddam.
Good post, lets hope that Khalilzad and Rice keep POTUS's ear, and the Iraqi's, esp the Sunni's, choose well in 10 days. Otherwise, this whole thing will go from bad to hell-in-a-handbasket faster then you can write a post. Keep up the good work, like I said i love this site (sorry for any misspellings.....)

Posted by: Randall Bennington at December 6, 2005 06:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Since Greg still stands by his position on Kerry, I looked over his old posts. Greg seems to have been determined to read a lack of seriousness about terrorism and national security into everything Kerry said. Perhaps the most glaring example is when Greg reported that the Democratic National Convention heavily emphasized the national security theme. "But," he asks, "isn't there, a 'you doth protest too much' quality to it all?"

When asked what it would take to make Americans feel safe again, Kerry said that terrorism could not be eliminated, but we had to reduce it to a point where "it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life." In his endorsement of Bush, Greg said the only explanation he could come up with for Kerry holding this view was that Kerry didn't believe that terrorism is an existential challenge. But that's silly. Kerry wasn't denying that terrorism is an existential challenge, he was saying that our goal should be to reduce it to the point where it no longer is an existential challenge.

Since Kerry wasn't elected, we don't know for sure what he would have done as president. It is, I suppose, possible that Greg's fears were correct. But Greg's case against Kerry was, to put it kindly, thin.

I wasn't sure whether to post this comment. To his credit, Greg has rethought his support for Bush, and I commend him for that.

Posted by: Kenneth Almquist at December 6, 2005 07:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pogue, your efforts to categorize me as a Saddam fan simply because I disagree with you on the effects of our invasion is getting tiresome. You and I want the same thing, right? Do you at least get that?

Look, you say we didn't "break" Iraq. Are you really serious? Our invasion had absolutely no bad effects on Iraq's infrastructure?

I guess where we disagree is that you seem to believe that the absence of law enforcement, in which terrorists are free to destroy at will, is preferable to a well established, but evil, law enforcement structure. Hey, maybe you're right, but I personally can't say which is better, since average citizens suffer horribly either way. But the removal of the police was our doing, hence I believe we have a responsibility to help implement a new system. Will it be perfect? Of course not - I never said it would be. But we have to at least get it to a point where it is stable enough to fend for itself.

We cannot just leave it up to Iraqis to do for themselves. That is the sense in which we "own" this problem, as well as many others caused by our intervention.

Posted by: Jason at December 6, 2005 04:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

we have worked MIRACLES in Iraq -from start to finish. The war and post-ewar have gone bettewr than any similar effort anywhere VERE. nopt perfect. but best ever.

So bizarre has American political discourse become, that I can't tell if this is intentional parody, or unintentional self-parody.

"Miracles" is not a term I've heard anyone, on either side, use in refererence to our Mesopotamian adventure. But loathsome as Rumsfeld's unique mixture of arrogance and obliviousness is, you just can't lay the Iraq debacle at his feet. Even if you had a well-informed, well-intentioned Secretary of Defense, even if he had bothered to spend more than a few weeks planning and preparing, even if he actually listened to people, the Iraq social engineering project would still be phantasmagorical. The current clusterfuck is pretty much what we war sceptics expected and predicted -- though the sheer incompetence of the Bush operation still surprises and rattles us. Why on earth anyone thinks that Kerry would do a worse job is a topic better suited for psychology than international relations....

Posted by: sglover at December 6, 2005 05:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Yes, it was a morally terrible system, but there was a certain order which kept the everyday Iraqi free from suicide bombers, kidnappers, insurgents, etc."

This is just silly. The reason why there was no insurgency or suicide bombings in Iraq prior to the American invasion is that the fascists were the ones in charge, so there was no reason for those things; not the quality of Saddam's security services.

Posted by: andrew at December 6, 2005 07:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Pogue, your efforts to categorize me as a Saddam fan simply because I disagree with you on the effects of our invasion is getting tiresome."

I am not suggesting you are a Saddam "fan" Jason I am saying you have a view of pre-liberation Iraq that is dismissive of the everyday terror experienced by many Iraqis under the Saddam regime

"You and I want the same thing, right? Do you at least get that?"

I get that

"Look, you say we didn't "break" Iraq. Are you really serious? Our invasion had absolutely no bad effects on Iraq's infrastructure?"


The liberation of Iraq has had profound effects on Iraq's infrastructure. I think the effects have been positive on balance. You think they have been negative

This is because, in my opinion, you are dismissive of the everyday terror many Iraqi's suffered under the Saddam regime

Saddam era terror wasn't in your newspaper and you probably weren't so concerned about Iraq at the time - neither was I. But it was real and it did kill hundreds of thousands of people.

The post Saddam era has seen the death of several thousands at the hands of the terrorists.

Is this an effect on Iraq's "infrastructure" as it relates to the lives of ordinary Iraqi's - yes it is. An effect for the positive.

"I guess where we disagree is that you seem to believe that the absence of law enforcement, in which terrorists are free to destroy at will, is preferable to a well established, but evil, law enforcement structure."

The fact that terrorists are destroying things does not balance against a state terror. Your "well established law enforecement structure" was an instrument of terror toward the populace.

Is this unclear?


" Hey, maybe you're right, but I personally can't say which is better, since average citizens suffer horribly either way."

Well lets try this - do the math.

" But the removal of the police was our doing, hence I believe we have a responsibility to help implement a new system. Will it be perfect? Of course not - I never said it would be. But we have to at least get it to a point where it is stable enough to fend for itself."

Yes - and once again - isn't this EXACTLY what we are doing?

Wasn't Saddam deposed in March 2003 - did we leave?

Wasn't he dragged from his spider hold in Dec 2003- did we leave?

Aren't we still there?

But we don't "own" Iraq - nor did we "break it"


"We cannot just leave it up to Iraqis to do for themselves. That is the sense in which we "own" this problem, as well as many others caused by our intervention."


Our liberation of Iraq did not "cause" problems - it solved the biggest one of all - state sponsored terror against the Iraqi people.

We didn't "break Iraq" - we removed the boot from the neck of the Iraqi people

We are staying and helping - but we don't "own" Iraq


Posted by: Pogue Mahone at December 6, 2005 08:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

I respect your analysis greatly, and try to avoid hostility, but I can understand why this post has gotten so much flame. Your personal cycle of disillusionment with Donald Rumsfield is just that - your personal cycle - and bears very little relation to the actual timeline of Rumsfield's mistakes. This was a press conference. It means very little. Virtually nothing. If what you're angry about is the mindset on display, it's been on display from the beginning. Rumsfield was calling Abu Ghirab overblown as soon as it happened. Cheney is advocating the right for the CIA to torture anyone anyone suspects of being involved with Islamist movements anywhere. You think he's suddenly going to break down and cry that the Interior Ministry and Police are full of fascists and murderers? So is the whole country. Furthermore, he's right. Iraq can only be fixed by the Iraqis. We can affect their struggle positively or negatively, but we are unlikely to be more than one factor in the matrix of pre-existing trends that will largely predict their fate. Greg, you're so bent-up on *somehow* creating a model outcome out of this because that would justify your support of the war in the first place. But Rumsfield and Bush's incompetence is not the main reason why this war is ugly, cruel, and bleeding our country dry. We had no chance of invading Iraq and coming out clean. Iraq had no chance of coming out clean either. Some will say that the long-term change we are fostering is worth it. I would say that for every dollar of positive long-term political change we provide for Iraq we are getting back 10 in national decline and exhaustion, and the citizens of Iraq are getting back 20 in death, suffering, and hardship. But either of those positions incorporates a clearer grasp of the realities than blowing up at Rumsfield because he continues to care as little as he did two years ago, when he made all the major mistakes.

Your anger at Rumsfield over this minor tiff is, at best, a selective prism. It draws your wrath because you're comparing how things are now, and how bad they are, to an idealized dream of how they could have been which is frankly very unlikely.

Meanwhile, to Pogue, but especially the laughable and misspelled Relaipundit:

You're in dire need of a reality check, and I find your comments, at the very least offensive (Pogue), or in another case, so glaringly psychotic as to be laughable, because that's how I can deal with it.

Saddamn ran a brutal, amoral, merciless dictatorship, but the situation for the average Iraqi right now is worse.

Estimates of the Iraqi civilian death count range from 20K to 50K a year. I think the number of civilian deaths a year was smaller under Saddamn by a factor of 10.

At least in Saddamn's Iraq you could get by pretty good by groveling and snivveling. In the current Iraq, no matter who you grovel to, at least 3 other power groups want you dead. The torture, dissapearances and death are going stronger than before, but with the additional bonus of being less predictable. Not to mention that the desctruction of property, security, livelihood, the decimated social fabric turning families against each other, and the plummeting availability of basic economic goods.

Was Saddamn's Iraq a horrible place to live in? Yes. But we have failed completely to make it better as of now, except according to some highly abstract political theory-scales of measurement. Like there in fact sucks quite a lot worse. Sure, we had better intentions than Saddamn. That won't buy you a pile of feces.

The massive scale of your ignorance of and indifference to the living hell that is the life of the average Iraqi reminds me of the very Arab dictators you scorn, who also were good at laughing off the undeserved deaths of thousands in the name of their political fantasies. greg, do you ever kick anyone out of this forum, or what?

Posted by: glasnost at December 7, 2005 01:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I especially liked this one:
"(you'll certainly be runnng through a lot of Defense Secretaries)"


Yeah, like a certain Abe Lincoln ran through Generals -- one after the other until he found one WHO COULD DELIVER!

I don't care how many heads must roll in DC. American troops are dying every day because of this "utter incompetence."

A decade from now, Rumsfeld will shuffle off this mortal coil, and it'll be Dems AND Reps who'll mutter curses to God in reference to his soul.

Posted by: Jamesaust at December 7, 2005 04:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

glasnost

Yet in poll after poll, Iraqis are pretty close to even as to whether they are better off NOW than under Saddam, and substantial majorities expect things to get better.

I wont address the rest of the cost benefit, as that would take us far afield, from the causes of political change in Lebanon, to the state of US army recruiting. However I agree with Greg that the CB is far from as negative as you paint it, and would be far better had Rummy NOT made his mistakes.

And even if the most important mistakes he made are past, it would probably still be helpful to the WOT to remove him now.


Posted by: liberalhawk at December 7, 2005 02:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You're only 70 months late realizing that Bush was completely unqualified to be president.
Congratulations. A couple more years and you'll at high school level.
Geez.. what is it about conservatives that makes them so much blinder to the faults of their leaders than liberals?
Look, for right or wrong, many Democrats turned on Clinton for far less than what Bush has done. They were not dyed-in-the-wool,
1000 year ReichsVolk. But the Republicans? Honestly, they scare me.. and it scares me to see an intelligent person like you still so far from seeing what kind of President Bush really is.
Hint: he's not just incompetent.

Posted by: marky at December 7, 2005 03:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I missed this contribution from Glasnost

Let me respond

"Meanwhile, to Pogue, but especially the laughable and misspelled Relaipundit:

You're in dire need of a reality check, and I find your comments, at the very least offensive (Pogue), or in another case, so glaringly psychotic as to be laughable, because that's how I can deal with it."

Well F U too pal... Offensive am I? For pointing out the sickness of your whole "Saddam was a monster BUT at least..." like you do right here again

Get it through your skull already - Iraqi's were WORSE off before we ousted Saddam

It is your opinion that they were better off under Saddam - they disagree


"Saddamn ran a brutal, amoral, merciless dictatorship, but the situation for the average Iraqi right now is worse. "

Is it?

Iraq Body Count ( an anti-war group that uses good methodology ) puts the number of civillian deaths at 30,000

Saddam killed at least 300,000 - civillians that is

I won't try to confuse you any more - but it seems that for the average Iraqi his chances of being murdered has dropped dramatically


"Estimates of the Iraqi civilian death count range from 20K to 50K a year. I think the number of civilian deaths a year was smaller under Saddamn by a factor of 10."

You have it exactly backwards but keep repeating a lie and it may become truth

Check here - http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

For Saddams victims try here

http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=8863

Depending on whom you ask, Saddam was responsible for the murder of between 300,000 (U.S. government figures) and one million Iraqi civilians (Iraqi politicians' figures), in other words, for the extermination of as much as 10 percent of the Iraqi population, according to the Iraqi Forum for Democracy. This doesn't include the Iranian deaths due to Saddam's poison gas attacks during the Iraq-Iran War, and certainly doesn't include his other assorted barbarisms: his rape rooms, torture chambers, live burnings, ethnic-cleansing campaigns, attacks on neighboring countries (Israel and Kuwait), to say nothing of the nearly four million Kurds still suffering the effects of chemical weapons exposure.

NOW I want you to note that I used the high end from Iraq body count - and the LOW end from the estimates of Saddams victims - and you still have things exactly backwards

"At least in Saddamn's Iraq you could get by pretty good by groveling and snivveling. In the current Iraq, no matter who you grovel to, at least 3 other power groups want you dead. The torture, dissapearances and death are going stronger than before, but with the additional bonus of being less predictable."

Where to begin with such vile commentary. The torture and deaths of Iraqi's now have the "bonus" of being less predictable?

You find a predicable tortured death at the hands of state security better than being blown up by a suicide bomber in the mosque?

Your dismissive tone toward the victims of Saddam is disgusting


"Not to mention that the desctruction of property, security, livelihood, the decimated social fabric turning families against each other, and the plummeting availability of basic economic goods."

Families turned against each other? Like when Ahmed wants to join the mosque bombers and his family disagrees?
And did no familys suffer disintegration under Saddam?

Was Saddamn's Iraq a horrible place to live in? Yes. But "

BUT BUT BUT BUT

The cry of the Saddam apologists again and again
"Of course Iraq under Saddam was terrible...BUT"

You go the next step by saying it is now 10X worse for the average Iraqi ( when it is actually 10X better - your off by a factor of what - 100??? ) and constantly belittle the sufferings of the Iraqi's under Saddam

You may as well be Michael Moore with his kite flying footage of the happy Afghans before the evil US of A came in and started dropping bombs for no reason

"we have failed completely to make it better as of now, except according to some highly abstract political theory-scales of measurement. Like there in fact sucks quite a lot worse. Sure, we had better intentions than Saddamn. That won't buy you a pile of feces."

Feces seems to be your expertise so I'll leave that to you

"The massive scale of your ignorance of and indifference to the living hell that is the life of the average Iraqi reminds me of the very Arab dictators you scorn, who also were good at laughing off the undeserved deaths of thousands in the name of their political fantasies. greg, do you ever kick anyone out of this forum, or what?"


I have provided the figures and sources - and PROVEN that you are just lying

Glasnost indeed - Pravda c 1950 is more like it

Black is white, freedom is slavery, and Iraqi's were 10X better off under Saddam ( even though 10X more were murdered )

And the real juice at the end - like all leftists - the cry for silencing those who disagree with them.

Freedom of speach for me! None for thee!

What a stalinist tool you are

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at December 7, 2005 08:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jason,

I'd suggest you quit wasting your breath on Pogue. Many from the moderate left (and the tin foil hat wearing left too) and conscientious right have tried to reason with him, but I guess the sad fact is some people wont or can't see differing views not matter how based in fact they are. As you'll see from the vast majority of post he makes, he simply reiterates old rhetoric, and never supports his arguments with evidence. He's driven by his own set of personal beliefs, which are not based on objective fact, but his firmly entrenched views. Whilst such people are necessary to mantain a broad spectrum of political views, trying to change his views is like trying to convince a wolf to be vegetarian. If he believed the sky was yellow no amount of evidence to the contrary would change his mind. You'd be better off having a reasoned debate with someone actually prepared to explore the issues...

As for reliapundit... laughable.. utterly laughable. At least Pogue can strong a sentence together!

Now watch the inevitable avalanche of suggestions that I'm Saddam apologist, terror supporter, bush hater etc...

Posted by: Aran Brown at December 7, 2005 10:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Like most wonknocrats Greg is a trend follower. When Bush was on his way to victory in 2004 he wrote "Why I'm Supporting Dubya" (the best thing he has ever written). When Bush started falling in the polls this year, he started piling on with "nuanced" criticisms. When Bush's poll numbers rise above 50 pct again later this year, Greg will be singing his praises as if nothing had ever occurred. Like I said, he's a trend follower–can't help himself.

Posted by: Frank at December 8, 2005 03:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Glasnost,

I admire you're contributions, and think you are smarter than the average bear when it comes to explaining the anti-war position, but I think you presume a little too much when you state the average Iraqi had it better under Saddam than they do today. I think you should go back and review some of the work of John Burns of the NYT, Michael Ignatieff at the Kennedy School at Harvard, or Chris Hitchens in various venues. I think your distaste for Bush is so strong you overlook the palpable climate of fear that pervaded every aspect of life under Saddam. LiberalHawk points to the responses we get to even the stilted polling in Iraq that gives grudging support for that point of view.
I also think you also rely on some kind of magic bullett that would have changed the tragectory of his behavior (and that of France and Russia at the UN). You accuse Greg of comparisons to some idealised dream, but who is projecting a masterful diplomatic feat of a) convincing the Sultan of Qatar and Emir of Kuwait to allow our 200K troops hang around indefinitely while the elegant Hans Blix completes his elegant inspection regime, b) expecting Saddam not to pull a Rafik Hariri-like, no fingerprints incident while world opinion again gets restless with Bush's drawing out of this contraversy, c) expecting the Dems not to be pounding Bush for his indecision and delay? Sometimes every option presented is bad, and the art of leadership is choosing the least bad.

Posted by: wks at December 8, 2005 05:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


So all of you foreign policy experts seem to fall into one of these categories--
A. We broke Iraq because we invaded.
B. We broke Iraq because Rummy fucked up. Hell in a handbasket.
C. Iraq was broken but it was not a threat to our national security. Let'm rot.
D. Iraq was broken and that is precisely why it was a threat to our security.

For all of you who thought we could have gotten rid of Saddam by supporting opposition groups and inciting civil war, would that have been any prettier? For you boots-on-the-ground types, how does 10,000 casualties sound? For all of you anti-interventionists, how would Uday figure into your alt-history?

It hasn't been pretty, but all the milestones have been met, body counts not withstanding. The BIG one is in 10 days. If it goes according to plan, a SOVERIGN government will be elected. It's a little early for all the monday-morning quarterbacking, don't y'all think?

Posted by: Chuck Betz at December 8, 2005 06:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You accuse Greg of comparisons to some idealised dream, but who is projecting a masterful diplomatic feat of a) convincing the Sultan of Qatar and Emir of Kuwait to allow our 200K troops hang around indefinitely while the elegant Hans Blix completes his elegant inspection regime

Dunno, but maybe it would have been prudent to wait a few months, instead of giving the bum's rush to Blix's efforts? But no, your camp knew that Saddam's mighty arsenal was there, eh? True, his economy was moribund after significant, back-to-back military defeats, he didn't even control his own airspace, but none of that mattered to the war advocates. They knew better.

b) expecting Saddam not to pull a Rafik Hariri-like, no fingerprints incident while world opinion again gets restless with Bush's drawing out of this contraversy

Um, yeah, and....? Get it through your head -- in 2003, Saddam was nothing like the threat that Bush and his shills portrayed. The entire premise for the invasion was bogus. And forget about all the obfuscation and outright lying about bad intelligence leading our Dear Leader astray -- many informed, tough-minded people saw well before the invasion that we'd be in precisely the debacle we're in now.

c) expecting the Dems not to be pounding Bush for his indecision and delay? Sometimes every option presented is bad, and the art of leadership is choosing the least bad.

Oh. So a strategic blunder launched with disinformation is preferable to the First Citizen losing some of his precious "political capital". Gotcha. At least you're honest about where rightist priorities lie.....

Posted by: sglover at December 8, 2005 07:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

From the NY Daily News: A source close to the White House said Rumsfeld wanted out a year ago, after Bush's reelection, but neither he nor President Bush wanted his departure to appear to have been forced.

See what power you have Greg -- you kept Rummy on the job a full year.

Posted by: wks at December 8, 2005 10:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wonder why I still visit "The Belgravia Dispatch". It isn't quite in Murtha/Kerry/Pelosi territory but it's getting close. Maybe it's the Belgravia that rings a few bells in my mind. I just sold a flat in South Kensington a few weeks before the tube-bombers struck. I was concerned about the rising cost of terrorism insurance.

By any standards, the war in Iraq is a success. US losses are trivial compared to previous conflicts, or the murder rate in California, or accidental military losses in the Clinton years, or a day's fighting in WW2. True, mistakes were made. The biggest mistake was letting Turkey prevent the US from attacking from the North and ripping through the Sunni triangle. The next biggest mistake was thinking that defeating Saddam's military meant the end of his regime. Saddam knew he'd lost that war so he planned a follow-on guerilla war in conjunction with Al Qaeda. The third mistake was giving Saddam time to dispose of his WMD before the war started. These mistakes are all political mistakes, not military mistakes.

The Rumsfeld military has proven resourceful, adaptable and courageous. They have been tasked with transforming a third-world dictatorship into a functioning democracy in a region that has never known democracy. That's a big ask. But Dec 15th will signal success.

It is obvious that Al Qaeda sees that Iraq is the central battlefield in this war. Why would they waste a European female with a Belgian passport on a suicide mission in Iraq? They could have sent her to Times Square or a Walmart in Flint.

The problem is that we let the media frame the questions and set the parameters for success. They have decided the parameters are zero casualties and instant success. Well, heck, not even Donald Rumsfeld could do that.

Posted by: pat at December 9, 2005 05:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have heard your comments and I will respond.


liberal hawk, pogue, and wks have all, from varying perspectives, attempted to dispute my claim that life is worse now for the average Iraqi than under Saddamn.

This is almost a philsophical question: there's no way to force agreement on what indicators matter. But certainly the one of the most common-ground indicators is the frequency of violent death. I'm angry, so I've done some research.

Pogue, your Iraqi Body Count estimate is a minimum number. The website itself calls it a minimum. The reason is that they only report deaths that have been reported by at least two major news agencies. Deaths reported by major news agencies do not equal total deaths - no self respecting historian would use the minimum reported number when estimating civilian deaths in a guerilla war.

http://www.zmag.org/lancet.pdf

This academic study uses widely accepted 'random cluster' statistical methods, based on face-to-face interviews and estimates:

Findings The risk of death was estimated to be 2·5-fold (95% CI 1·6–4·2) higher after the invasion when compared
with the preinvasion period. Two-thirds of all violent deaths were reported in one cluster in the city of Falluja. If we
exclude the Falluja data, the risk of death is 1·5-fold (1·1–2·3) higher after the invasion. We estimate that
98 000 more deaths than expected (8000–194 000) happened after the invasion outside of Falluja and far more if the
outlier Falluja cluster is included. The major causes of death before the invasion were myocardial infarction,
cerebrovascular accidents, and other chronic disorders whereas after the invasion violence was the primary cause of
death. Violent deaths were widespread, reported in 15 of 33 clusters, and were mainly attributed to coalition forces.
Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. The risk of death from violence in
the period after the invasion was 58 times higher (95% CI 8·1–419) than in the period before the war.


Note that this report estimates a difference of 98,000 deaths between the mortality rate in the 18 months before the 2003 invasion and the 18 months after - with the battle of fallujah excluded. Furthermore, 15 further months have gone by since this survey number. Dividing this number by the survey time period to create a monthly average and multiplying by the total months since the invasion, I get a total of 179,000 deaths from an extra 5444 deaths per month for 33 months.

However, let's make like a historian, call this highest estimate I've found the "maximum estimate", and then call our "consensus estimate halfway between the Iraq Body Count minimum and mine.
That would give roughly 105,000 direct and indirect additional civilian deaths as a result of the Iraq invasion.

Pogue, I didn't even bother to look at your American Spectator link.

This link, which is certainly not interested in underplaying,

http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/hussein.html#kills

gives a quote: "Over 100,000 Kurds killed or "disappeared". No reliable figures for the number of Iraqi dissidents and Shi'ite Muslims killed during Hussein's reign, though estimates put the figure between 60,000 and 150,000. (Mass graves discovered following the US occupation of Iraq in 2003 suggest that the total combined figure for Kurds, Shi'ites and dissidents killed could be as high as 300,000)."
Yeah, you'll see a higher number off the top, but it includes Iranians from the war and sacntions-related deaths, which I am not attributing.

This link, from a Professor of History at the University of Michigan, uses 300K and makes the following argument:

http://www.juancole.com/2005_07_01_juancole_archive.html

Even if the figure of 300,000 for the number of civilian victims of the Baath regime is not an exaggeration, that would be over 37 years, or 8,000 per year. That is, American Iraq is presiding over a civilian death rate greater than the highest estimates per month per capita for that of the Baath regime.

Note that my estimate of civilian deaths per month is 3000 lower than Professor Cole's. Being kind, our actions have led to the deaths of 1/3 of the civilians in 2.75 years as Saddamn's total in 37. In other words, the number of our additional deaths per year is 3-4 times higher than Saddamn's additional deaths per year was on average during his reign.

So, Pogue, go ahead. Make my day. By the way, I haven't seen the study for total civilian deaths attributable to US military action in 1977-2007, but I wonder if it beats 300K.

For the record, Pogue, I'm not interested in having Greg ban anyone. Not even you. I was venting. Also for the record, "bonus" was deeply satirical. My point was that the risk of violent death in Iraq is not only higher now, but also less predictable for an Iraqi civilian. In other words, worse. I'm pretty sure you don't agree with that.

liberalhawk and wks: I appreciate the civility, and will try to give it back, but take a step back and listen to yourselves. "Iraqis are pretty close to even as to whether they are better off now than under Saddamn?" Does that mean those preferring Saddamn are only ahead by a few percent? If we had actually gone and performed a human-rights miracle in Iraq, and the number of innocent people dying in the country had dropped like a rock, don't you think that the polls wouldn't be "pretty close to even?". I am well familiar with Mr. Burns and Mr. Hitchens, and I'm not impressed. Of course there was a palpable climate of fear under Saddamn Hussein. What climate is there right now, wks? Not a palpable climate of fear?

I actually think that the worst is over in Iraq, myself. I'm sure those opinion polls will climb at some point. Conflicts have momentum, and this one will burn out and die, and with the flowing of hundreds of billions of dollars in aid, the forgiving of massive amounts of debt, and the eventual return of some form of political cohesion, someday Iraq will be better off then it was the day we invaded. Sometime after that, it will probably be better off then it was in, oh, let's say 1979, before the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war. Whether you give us credit for that or not, it won't change the massive scale of death and destruction that have occured in these three years. What will change is the memory and reporting of it.

100,000, ballpark. 100,000 uneccesary deaths in three years might have been morally debatable (though still pretty much a wash) if we'd invaded to stop the ~100K massacres of 1991. But they'd been over for quite some time. Take the couple years before Saddamn's invastion and the couple years after, and we've killed muliples more people than we have saved.

And for everyone's understanding as to what I fall into:

A. Iraq was broken, was no threat to us, we broke it worse, more so than neccesary but not much more. Chuck, that's some of A, B, and C.

B. We have introduced chaos and unpredictability into the political landscape of the Middle East from a place of stagnation. In the unlikely event that a religious Shiite dictatorship does not come to run Iraq, but a government that adheres to the constitution we told it to write, we may marginally increase the cause of political freedom in Iraq. What we have not done is

a) increase U.S. security, increase U.S. power, or uphold U.S. standards of moral behavior
b) saved more Iraqi lives than we have killed, rescued them from hunger and poverty, or otherwise bettered their lives as of 3 years in, with the possible exception of a small decrease in fear of coercion, by exchanging one all-powerful source of violent coercion for several weaker, conflicting sources of violent coercion.

Posted by: glasnost at December 10, 2005 03:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Holy Hell, gentlemen, and ladies, whichever: Brevity is the mark of a good writer, not ponderous length. Discover that.

As to torture, and the tired banter about troop levels, it is a choice between lesser evils.

Don't torture and risk the death of innocents or fellow soldiers. Torture, and perhaps save them. Perhaps not. When there are no clear answers, you use judgement.

Only the foolish, and the cowardly timid who never attempt, much less suceed, do not concede where they might be wrong.

Troop levels in the 500,000 are fine in theory, but nonexistant in reality. Nor would such a force, even in theory, ceterus paribus, perform better against an 'insurgency,' as the loose jihadist-Baathist-Sunni alliance of convenience is called, a distinction much lampooned on this page for making, btw.

What matters there is intelligence gathering. What matters there is aggressively attacking the enemy wherever found. The work 500K troops not attacking criminals hiding in mosques or in the Sunni Triangle, can be done by 150K troops not attacking mosques and the Sunni Triangle.

All my kingdom for 40K troops that WOULD take the fight immediately to the enemy on all fronts without 6 pages of ROE, or BD sophists questioning military matters they obviously do not understand, if they at least have the courtesy not to scorn the discipline itself.

Posted by: Brad at December 10, 2005 10:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Glasnost,

Thank you for your efforts, although I disagree with your conclustion I appreciate the energy you put into your work. I am familiar with the Lancet study and am aware it has been criticised as roundly as anything the American Spectator would put out (which you refuse to read). I believe reliance on statistics pre-invasion and post-invasion from hospitals staffed by Baath appointed administrators and doctors will, surprise, surprise, show official causes of death change dramatically when they can be shifted from Saddam's forces to the evil US invaders. Where are all these women and children getting mowed down by the US in the media? Don't you think Reuters, al Jazera, etc would like to showcase these atrocities?.

I'm also confused as to why you dismiss the deaths due to sanctions:

"Yeah, you'll see a higher number off the top, but it includes Iranians from the war and sacntions-related deaths, which I am not attributing."

Why not attribute them to the man violating international law, the man bribing France and Russia to block smart sanctions, and the man building 26 palaces with the money intended to save them.

Let's assume, arguendo, that the death toll is as high as you estimate. I said all the alternatives were bad. I wish we had more ground troops and could have/should have fought this war more humanely. I agree our post-war neglect has been a stain on our honorable intentions. But I don't think the temporary inflamation from lancing a boil is the same as a metatastising cancer. One is a progressive act, the other guarantees more pain in the future

Posted by: wks at December 11, 2005 03:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Glasnost,

Thank you for your efforts, although I disagree with your conclustion I appreciate the energy you put into your work. I am familiar with the Lancet study and am aware it has been criticised as roundly as anything the American Spectator would put out (which you refuse to read). I believe reliance on statistics pre-invasion and post-invasion from hospitals staffed by Baath appointed administrators and doctors will, surprise, surprise, show official causes of death change dramatically when they can be shifted from Saddam's forces to the evil US invaders. Where are all these women and children getting mowed down by the US in the media? Don't you think Reuters, al Jazera, etc would like to showcase these atrocities?.

I'm also confused as to why you dismiss the deaths due to sanctions:

"Yeah, you'll see a higher number off the top, but it includes Iranians from the war and sacntions-related deaths, which I am not attributing."

Why not attribute them to the man violating international law, the man bribing France and Russia to block smart sanctions, and the man building 26 palaces with the money intended to save them.

Let's assume, arguendo, that the death toll is as high as you estimate. I said all the alternatives were bad. I wish we had more ground troops and could have/should have fought this war more humanely. I agree our post-war neglect has been a stain on our honorable intentions. But I don't think the temporary inflamation from lancing a boil is the same as a metatastising cancer. One is a progressive act, the other guarantees more pain in the future

Posted by: wks at December 11, 2005 03:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,
In your impassioned and detailed critique of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, you repeatedly used the word, "hubris," excessive pride and arrogance, to describe him. The word was also employed many decades ago by David Halberstam in The Best and the Brightest to describe the central flaw of the New Frontiersmen, who stayed on in the Johnson administration after the Kennedy assassiation and ran the American prosecution of the war in Vietnam.
I think that this is more than just a historical coincidence.
During the Johnson administration, the hawks in his cabinet stated that the underlying foundation and justification for the war in Vietnam was to make a stand against the spread of Communist regimes in Southeast Asia, what became known as the domino theory. In the Bush administration, the hawks also used the domino theory as the raison d'etre for the war in Iraq: that creating a viable democratic state in the Middle East will eventually bring about an historical transformation to other Arabic states in the region and create a domino effect whereby formerly authoritarian regimes will be forced to adopt democratic institutions.
Unfortunately, the hubris of the New Frontiersman is being repeated once again. Only this time we are being served the neo-con reverse image of the domino effect.
I agree with your criticism of Secretary Rumsfeld, but again I want to point out how you again borrowed words and phrases from the political debacle that America endured in Vietnam. You compare Rumsfeld to former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, citing his arrogance and his reliance upon technocratic metrics of success and progress as he nonchantly glosses over such glaring failures as the humiliation and toture of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, which you called the worst military scandal since the My Lai massacre. Again you have buttressed your argument by citing a specific event during the Vietnam War.
Like most Vietnam veterans, I have been accused of living in the past when I also criticized the rationale of the war in Iraq and the bungling of the pacification phase of the occupation. But my sincere reason for citing the political quagmire of Vietnam is not because I belong to the cut-and-run crowd nor because I secretly harbor a desire to see the American military to fail in Iraq.
My preoccupation with the events of the Vietnam War have informed my ideas, thoughts and views, because I don't want to see the Iraq War end in failure. Although I thought that the arguments for the war were fabricated by administration officials in much the same manner that LBJ and his cabinet members did with the Gulf of Tolkin resolution, in my heart I want a success in Iraq. America's international prestige is once again on the line, and if we fail to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis and, more importantly, the multitude of Muslims in the region, the currency of our words expressed in our stated goals in Iraq will become debased and worth little more than the paper money printed during the inflationary spiral of the Weimar Republic.
And one last thing, which unfortunately bears a striking similairity to the Vietnam War. In a recent op-ed commentary in The New York Time, two knights of Camelot, the speech writer Ted Sorensen and the historian Arthur Schleisinger (please excuse me if I have misspelled their names), wrote an article, which essentially repeats and mirrors the transcript of the press conference by Rumsfeld that you used to expalin why he should be fired.
(If you get a chance, Greg, read it.)
As Yoggi Berra once said, "It's deja vu all over again!"
It has become a cliche among pundits to cite Santanya's adage that people who fail to learn the lessons of history are destined to repeat them again. But in this instance, I think that his thoughtful observation rises above its usual misuse and aptly describes the hubris of Secretary Rumsfeld, the neo-cons and the Bush administration officials.
The failures that you have explained and expanded upon in your latest piece result, I think, from the flawed intellectual underpinnings of such neo-con as Paul Wolfowitz, who like Robert McNamara has fled the Bush administration to be head of The World Bank. I guess Rumsfeld can stratch off that organiztaion from his own exit strategy.
And I think that Secretary Rumsfeld is doing real damage to our armed forces, which spent many decades reconstituting themselves after the defeat in Vietnam and being used by both looney wings of the far right and the far left as a convenient whipping boy to explain how it all happened. We owe these young men and women in Iraq so much for their self-sacrifice, idealism and public service to all Americans and also to Iraqis. But their role in this historic drama has been foreshadowed by the scandals and bungling of the Bush administration and the recent toxic debate and finger-pointing among the hawks and doves of both Republicans and Democrats over the issue of an exit strategy. This must be an especially difficult holiday season for the extended military familes of the fallen and wounded.

Posted by: George Hoffman at December 11, 2005 04:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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