Thursday, April 13, 2006

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Remind me again.... why hasn't Rumsfeld resigned?

The official position here at danieldrezner.com has been that Don Rumsfeld should have resigned about two years ago.

Thomas Ricks reports in the Washington Post that this has increasingly become the public position of Army commanders who have served in Iraq:

The retired commander of key forces in Iraq called yesterday for Donald H. Rumsfeld to step down, joining several other former top military commanders who have harshly criticized the defense secretary's authoritarian style for making the military's job more difficult.

"I think we need a fresh start" at the top of the Pentagon, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005, said in an interview. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork."

Batiste noted that many of his peers feel the same way. "It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense," he said earlier yesterday on CNN.

Batiste's comments resonate especially within the Army: It is widely known there that he was offered a promotion to three-star rank to return to Iraq and be the No. 2 U.S. military officer there but he declined because he no longer wished to serve under Rumsfeld. Also, before going to Iraq, he worked at the highest level of the Pentagon, serving as the senior military assistant to Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense.

Batiste said he believes that the administration's handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles, such as unity of command and unity of effort. In other interviews, Batiste has said he thinks the violation of another military principle -- ensuring there are enough forces -- helped create the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal by putting too much responsibility on incompetent officers and undertrained troops.

His comments follow similar recent high-profile attacks on Rumsfeld by three other retired flag officers, amid indications that many of their peers feel the same way. (emphasis added)

Peter Spiegel and Paul Richter put this into context in the Los Angeles Times:
The officers said that challenges to civilian policy were not new ó similar opposition flared during the Clinton administration, particularly around the issue of gays in the military. But many of the latest condemnations come from officers who served in the Iraq war, and the controversy has split the ranks over whether attacks by those officers so soon after retiring are appropriate.

One current general who has debated the issue with high-ranking colleagues spoke, like others, on condition of anonymity when discussing actions of other officers.

"If every guy that retires starts sniping at their old bosses and acts like a political appointee, how do you think senior civilians start choosing their military leaders?" the general said. "Competence goes out the window. It's all about loyalty and pliability."

The general has a point.... but then again, don't Batiste and others have a point as well?

Question to Rummy-supporters: how can this kind of criticism be ignored? Why should Rummy still be the Secretary of Defense?

posted by Dan on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM




Comments:

Obviously because he supports free trade.

posted by: Dan on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



There's a best time to dump Rumsfeld. Once Rummy goes and we get somebody new to clean up the mess he made, all criticism of iraq is off until the new guy has had time to prove himself. Iraq is a giant mess, it will take at least a year before there can be legitimate criticism of him or of anybody connected to the iraq mess. It took us 3 years to dig the hole we're in, can we expect to dig ourselves out in just one year?

So the question is, when can Bush best use a long stretch with iraq off the table? And how bad will the ruckus about Rummy get in the meantime?

Bush will dump Rummy at the optimal time unless the pressure gets too much; then he'll dump Rummy sooner. I'd guess it should be either a few months before the 2006 election, or about a year before the 2008 election. But I'm not a big expert on political manipulation.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Army criticisms have to be taken with a grain of salt. Much of the Army brass hated Rumsfeld pre-Iraq for his "transformation" initiatives.

posted by: Dylan on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



It might be too late for a new Secretary of Defense to change things materially in Iraq, even if you assume that the President wants a change of course. But not so with our Iran policy.

http://allintensivepurposes.blogspot.com/2006/04/lead-or-get-out-of-way-but-dont-follow.html

posted by: Tyrone Slothrop on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



The reason Rumsfeld has to stay is that to follow the reasoning of "Rumsfeld must go" to its logical conclusion, implies that Cheney and then Bush should go. This is a troika. They all should go. Or at least elect a Democratic congress this November to put a check on them for their final two years.

It is not just the army going after him. I have heard this from friends in the Navy and Air Force. The Marines are also unhappy - see the article in Slate:
http://www.slate.com/id/2139777/

Lt. General Gregory Newbold retired before the Iraq invasion because he did not want to be part of it. He was due for a fourth star and appointment as Commandant of the USMC. He finally decided to speak out in this weeks Time - http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1181629-1,00.html

posted by: Realist on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Tyrone, I doubt it matters to Bush if a new SoD changes things in iraq. The important thing is that he can say he's changing things in iraq, and criticism will be off limits until he's had enough time to show results.

So the question is, when is the best time to get that break.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



OK, let's see what many of the critics share:

- opponents of R's reforms in the military
- served in Iraq, so responsible for mess there

Seriously though, am I the only one troubled with the military being unhappy with civilian oversight? This general in particular bemoans the lack of consultation with him, among others. That may be so, but I have heard too many of "If they'd just listened to me, everything would have been fine" to accept this without a grain of salt.

That's not to say that the criticism is automatically invalid, it's just that it is too self-serving to be accepted at face value.

posted by: Branislav Slantchev on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Branislav, you have a point.

So, who would you accept as a valid critic of Rumsfeld, Bush, or the war?

Uninformed civilians are obviously out,they don't know.

Enlisted men and lower-rank officers are out, they don't see the big picture.

Congressmen are out, even if they see some of the classified documents -- they're politicians who can be expected to be partisan.

Retired generals who weren't in iraq are out, they don't know the score either.

And now recently-retired generals who saw the big picture in iraq are out because they're self-serving.

Who could possibly be trusted to tell us the truth about the war?

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



This reminds me of writing Hersh did in the run up to the Iraq invasion. Sy basically said that the pros in State, CIA and Pentegon thought Iraq invasion would be a huge mistake. But alas the politicos prevailed, and we invaded. Now that their private reservations have been proven correct...in spades.
People who anticipated this(debacle)were stomped on(Plame,Shalichavilli etc). But, As Bushs prestige declines, his ability to hurt the people who come out, and say "I told you so" will also decline. As a result, I expect only more people to come forward as the quagmire deepens.

posted by: centrist on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



The question is why hasn't the prez. fired him?

posted by: rgolub on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"Self serving"
People take a big risk with there careers in the military and with their careers in the M.I.C. after they go off of active duty to take stances like these officers did. An odd job at Brookings or a book deal is rare compared to the safe well paid position these Generals were assured in the M.I.C,if they just kept their mouth shut.

posted by: centrist on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



You can email President Bush, VP Cheney, Congressional Leaders & Rush Limbaugh from my eclectic homepage. Check it out here......
http://www.geocities.com/capitolhill/8889

posted by: Steve on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Question to Rummy-supporters: how can this kind of criticism be ignored?

I think we're seeing it fleshed out in the comment thread: plugging one's fingers in one's ears and repeating the most ancient of Buddhist mantras: "It's all good in the hood!"

posted by: norbizness on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



As bad as Rumsfeld is, can we really be so sure his replacement would be any better? Never underestimate Bush's ability or inclination to replace one corrupt incompetent with an even worse one, if only to get back at the people who demanded the change.

posted by: Platypus on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



A few thoughts:

First, I worked in the Joint Staff during 2001-02, and worked on a daily basis with the people under Rumsfeld. They epitomized groupthink in its worst forms because they feared Rumsfeld. He did not seek out the best advice, but rather sought people to give him the answers he already wanted. The military tends to believe that intel should drive policy--that the problem should determine how you approach it--not Rumsfeld's way.

Second, he (and Rice) like to throw the military under the train when they face criticism--when Rumsfeld said during the first few weeks of the war that it was not his war plan, please give me a break. Rice's latest tactical decisions not strategic mistakes--well, that seems to point the finger away from NSC where she was at the time.

Third, Rumsfeld is unlikely to get fired because Cheney is unlikely to do so. In responding to questions by the Canadian media about Cheney's hunting accident, I reminded them that Cheney hired Cheney as VP since he ran the search committee. And since Rumsfeld and Cheney go back forever, I doubt that Cheney would fire Rumsfeld.

Indeed, what reallys eems to gall the military is the absolute lack of accountability in the Bush administration.

The timing here is interesting--all around the same time as Hersh's story about tactical nukes. Might this be preemptive by the military before that train goes down the track too far?

The big mistakes all are in Rumsfeld's lap--too small of a size force going in (wanted to prove his transformation points); firing the Iraqi army; and much else.

posted by: Steve Saideman on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



I honestly don't understand why Rumsfeld didn't get the boot way back when the prison scandal first broke. As others said, the big mistakes are all on Rumsfeld's lap and Bush seems to want to keep this guy there.

posted by: Clark Goble on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"it's just that it is too self-serving to be accepted at face value."

Exactly right. How else would a random General get unlimited fawning media attention, including, e.g., their very own Time magazine essay? Because you can be SURE that if they thought Rumsfled was doing a good job and the Iraq war was right, they would be completely ignored by the media.

So - let's summarize:

Come out now against the war and Rumsfeld: all sorts of adulation by a fawning media. Come out now for the war and Rumsfeld: be completely ignored.

So how is all of their criticism ANYTHING BUT self-serving?

If these Generals really were interested in something besides getting their names in the paper, they would have come out with their criticism of the war BEFORE THE INVASION BEGAN. That goes for all the Johnny-come-lately's who just now are disclosing that they really, really were against the war from the beginning - it's just that they didn't tell anyone then. I have respect for those who came out against the war prior to the invasion (I disagree with them, but I respect them); but to come out against the war NOW is pathetic.

posted by: A.S. on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Centrist: They've been "proven correct", in spades?

What specific predictions do you refer to?

(And when was the last time the "pros" at State were right about anything? If we want to talk incompetence, how about we start there and with the CIA?)

Steve: Cheney can't fire Rumsfeld, can he? How would he do that? Using what power that the Vice President has? Surely the VP cannot remove Cabinet-level officials? (In fact, er, can he fire anyone who isn't on his own staff?)

Further, plenty of counter-argument suggests that "firing" the Iraqi Army was not a mistake; in that 1) it was dissolving anyway, at the lower levels and 2) the command levels were all Ba'athists, no? What do you realistically think would have been better about "keeping" it, to the extent it could have been kept at all?

I don't know if Rumsfeld should keep his job or not, but this thread isn't doing much of a job convincing me he should be fired.

(Hey, Platypus. Who's been corrupt? Please name someone. Allegations of incompetence are thoroughly plausible for some appointments, but who's Bush appointed who was actually corrupt? Who was taking bribes or payoffs? You seem to imply that Rumsfeld has, in context - is this accidental? If not, is there even the tiniest shred of evidence? Or was the entire statement just cant, said on the assumption that nobody would question it?

Really, people, I expect better at a place like this.)

posted by: Sigivald on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]




Because you can be SURE that if they thought Rumsfled was doing a good job and the Iraq war was right, they would be completely ignored by the media.

Yup, I saw how General Franks was completely ignored by the media.


Come out now against the war and Rumsfeld: all sorts of adulation by a fawning media. Come out now for the war and Rumsfeld: be completely ignored.

Zinni actually came out nearly 2 years ago. Furthermore, we all saw what happened to Shinseki when he didn't fall in with the party line pre-war.

It need hardly be added that for most Generals, its very unusual to come out. Fawning media or not, coming out can hurt lucrative corporate positions or lecture tours a lot.

posted by: Veleztrope on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Yup, I saw how General Franks was completely ignored by the media.

Please. Franks is on a completely different level than most of these guys - he was well known since before the war. These guys (other than Zinni) were completely anonymous prior to their adoring media coverage once they spoke out against Rumsfeld.

Furthermore, we all saw what happened to Shinseki when he didn't fall in with the party line pre-war.

What, exactly, happened to Shinseki when he "didn't fall in with the party line pre-war"? I presume you are talking about his Congressional testimony where he said we'd need many more troops?

Fawning media or not, coming out can hurt lucrative corporate positions or lecture tours a lot.

You can't really believe that, can you? You get LESS lecture tours by coming out against the war? On which planet?

posted by: A.S. on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"Batiste said he believes that the administration's handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles, such as unity of command and unity of effort"

He's undoubtedly right about that. Bush is ultimately to blame, and Rumsfeld as well. But the generals on the scene dont escape blame. Nor does Paul Bremer. Every one of these people were asked ad nauseum if they had everything they needed. They consistantly said they had enough men and materials. Bush repeatedly insisted he expected his people in Iraq to speak up if they needed anything. Now either the climate between all these people sucked or there is some revisionist remembering going on. I suspect a bit of both.

Bremer was a nightmare and should have been replaced when his incompetance was obvious. The military command was much better and generally effective at everything specifically asked of them. The biggest problem was there was no single commander there to coordinate and strategize the entire occupation and reconstruction (as we had in Japan, for instance). That was a critical mistake. The generals dont get off the hook though. If they were deficiant in resources to complete their missions it was their duty to fix that, even if it meant rattling cages via the media. Can you imagine Omar Bradley or George Patton whining that they didnt have the troops to do the job and were too scared of repurcussions to speak up about it?

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Here's an excerpt from William Kristol's editorial in the next issue of the Weekly Standard (now available on line): "That action [referring to possible action with respect to Iran] would be easier if the situation in Iraq improved--which implies an urgent push to make progress there, with the deployment of more troops if necessary. Planning for action in Iran would be somewhat easier if the president finally insisted on a far-too-long-delayed increase in the size of the military. It would be easier, too, under the leadership of a new, not-discredited defense secretary in whom the president would have confidence, since he has surely (if privately) lost faith in the current one."

I've never had much sympathy with the demonizing of Rummy. It's not surprising that a guy seeking to transform an institution as bureaucratic and hidebound as the military won't be beloved by some of the generals who run that institution. General Batiste's specific gripe about Rummy related to troop levels in Iraq, but the decision to hold down those troop levels undoubtedly had many fathers, including a few folks in the White House. Whether it was such a terrible decision, or whether the problems in Iraq wouldn't have changed much if we had sent an additional 50,000 or 100,000 troops, is at this point both academic and speculative. The notion that troop levels will be increased now seens unlikely seems fanciful for a host of reasons.

All that having been said, the comments in Kristol's editorial, particularly the suggestion that the White House team may have lost confidence in Rummy, certainly has the sound of future events (and not all that far in the future either) being dramatically foreshadowed.

posted by: RHD on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



The question those of you who blame Rumsfeld, Bremer or the pentagon cleaning lady is: If the execution was so bad, why did it succeed so brilliantly at first ? The war was won, casualties were few in the first months of occupation and so on. The problem was not the DoD's execution, it was an unsound strategy of trying to 'democratize' an ethnically divided society that had no tradition of democracy. The whole enterprise was doomed to fail.

Besides, National Review featured a Rumsfeld as stud-muffin cover--can't sack him after that.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"The question those of you who blame Rumsfeld, Bremer or the pentagon cleaning lady is: If the execution was so bad, why did it succeed so brilliantly at first ? "

For the same reason sky diving is exhillerating until you realize you forgot your chute.

Ethnic divisions and whatever unsuitabiliy for democracy you imagine doesnt explain why it took a year and a half to hand over Iraq to even a hand picked Iraqi government, nor why the electricity never got taken seriously (several million Sunni baking in the desert didnt help their disposition), nor why the borders were never sealed back when foriegners made up a greater portion of the insurgency. We need to remember how quiet it was the first few months after the invasion. That was our chance to move swiftly, and in some ways we succeeded (with the Shiia for instance) and in many ways we failed. The war was fine, it was a mistake not to have a reconstruction plan, but it was disasterous not to adopt a flexible plan when the makeshift ones failed.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]




Please. Franks is on a completely different level than most of these guys - he was well known since before the war. These guys (other than Zinni) were completely anonymous prior to their adoring media coverage once they spoke out against Rumsfeld.

You're talking total nonsense. Franks succeeded Zinni as CinC of Centcom, so the notion that he was on a "completely different level" or was well known while his predecessor Zinni was not is garbage.

Franks did get some pubilicity out of Operation Enduring Freedom, but it was his role in Iraq that gave him massive publicity.


What, exactly, happened to Shinseki when he "didn't fall in with the party line pre-war"? I presume you are talking about his Congressional testimony where he said we'd need many more troops?

He was sidelined and humilated -- his successor was announced months in advance, making him a lame duck.


You can't really believe that, can you? You get LESS lecture tours by coming out against the war? On which planet?

On this planet, which is clearly different from the one you live on. Retired Generals have corporate consulting engagements and standard speaking tours. Most of their audiences tend to be slightly to somewhat conservative, not surprising since that is the general trend among senior army officers. And companies generally dislike hiring senior officers who are controversial or are not in the good books of the Defense Sec (many of these companies do have contracts with DoD). GEnerals who speak out most definitely endanger these contracts.

Zinni may be the exception here since he came out at the same time his book came out, so it got him some publicity, but the fact that his book was co-authored by Tom Clancy guaranteed him that anyway.

posted by: Veleztrope on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



> Whether it was such a terrible decision, or
> whether the problems in Iraq wouldn't have
> changed much if we had sent an additional
> 50,000 or 100,000 troops, is at this point
> both academic and speculative.

Sure.

Unless the same people are now planning another war in the name of the Citizens of the United States. In which case it might be a little, um, less academic.

I thought the Radicals were going to restore "accountability" to the White House? Seems that they are never responsible for anything they do. Odd that.

Cranky

posted by: Cranky Observer on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Question to Rummy-supporters: how can this kind of criticism be ignored? Why should Rummy still be the Secretary of Defense?

Because we have civilian control over the military and Rumsfeld serves at the pleasure of the Commander-In-Chief. So until Bush decides to fire Rumsfeld, he stays.

posted by: Albert on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



If the dems win one of the houses of congress the only thing they can do is keep the administration bottled up with investigations to the point where they, bushco, can't invade another country.
I don't think the dems are going to win one of the houses so we will get a rerun of Iraq in Iran.
Divided government is looking better all the time.
Good Luck to us all.

posted by: dilbert dogbert on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"I can't think offhand of a Defense Secretary who has had as much authority delegated to him as Rumsfeld has, not even McNamara. And the authority Bush has delegated to him stretches well beyond the traditional bounds of the SecDef's purview. If Rumsfeld left now, Bush would either have to delegate the same level of authority to someone he did not know as well (which he is unwilling to do) or become vastly more involved himself in the implementation of national security policy (which he is unable to do).

In another administration Rumsfeld would surely have to resign or be fired, and most likely would have been before now. An administration headed by a President as weak as Bush is can't afford to lose the mainstay of its foreign and defense policy any more than the politically crippled Richard Nixon could have afforded to lose Henry Kissinger in the spring of 1974."

OK, so this is a quote from one of Dan's pseudonymous commenters from almost two years ago, and what do they know anyway? You still have to ask yourself not only what you think should happen, but what you think is likely to happen, and why.

posted by: Zathras on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Remember, this is the Bush administration.

Alice in Wonderland Goes to the Twilight Zone.

A total dysfunctional mess from the top down.

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



> Because we have civilian control
> over the military and Rumsfeld
> serves at the pleasure of the
> Commander-In-Chief.

No. Rumsfeld is a _civilian_ appointee of the Executive Branch, and he serves at the pleasure of the _President_. The President is the "Commander-in-Chief" of the _armed forces_ only. He is NOT the "commander-in-chief" of the United States, its citizens, or me.

Funny how the Radicals so often conflate those two roles when it suits their purpose. And forget about them when it doesn't.

Cranky

And I doubt very much that the framers of the Constitution intended that the role of senior military commander carry anything like the burden of deference and adoration it has achieved of late, but that is another subject.

posted by: Cranky Observer on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Rumsfeld was at war with the Generals over transformation long before 911.

Go back and read Rumsfeld's war on bureaucracy pre-911 press releases. There was a dramatic change in words used after 911.

The reason he's still there is because the verdict is still out about troop strength.

The lesson Rumsfeld learned from Vietnam was do Vietnamization from the start. Don't make the Iraqi's dependent on the US. We couldn't put enough boots on the ground in the first place and would just ataganoize the Iraqis. Go light, stay light, and train an Iraqi force.

I think ultimately he will be proven right because while it caused tactical problems it's the right political solution. Unlike Vietnam where we won tactically but badly fumbled the politics.

posted by: Bill Baar on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Rumsfeld was at war with the Generals over transformation long before 911.

Go back and read Rumsfeld's war on bureaucracy pre-911 press releases. There was a dramatic change in words used after 911.

The reason he's still there is because the verdict is still out about troop strength.

The lesson Rumsfeld learned from Vietnam was do Vietnamization from the start. Don't make the Iraqi's dependent on the US. We couldn't put enough boots on the ground in the first place and would just ataganoize the Iraqis. Go light, stay light, and train an Iraqi force.

I think ultimately he will be proven right because while it caused tactical problems it's the right political solution. Unlike Vietnam where we won tactically but badly fumbled the politics.

posted by: Bill Baar on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Another point: I distinctly remember another group of retired generals railing on the Clinton administration during and after the Balkans conflict. This is not novel.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Indeed, what reallys eems to gall the military is the absolute lack of accountability in the Bush administration.


Accountability?

Accountability to who, exactly?

The Executive Branch is accountable to President Bush, and President Bush is accountable to the electorate. This is how it should be.

...

I get the distinct impression that a lot of people in the Pentagon are unhappy that the Bush Administration isn't doing what the Pentagon bureaucracy thinks should be done.

I wouldn't have a problem with doing what the Pentagon bureaucracy thinks should be done so long as every war we're going to fight from here on out is going to be like WW2... but everyone knows that's not how it's going to be.

The US military excels at conventional warfare, so much that nobody wants to fight a conventional war against the US military. Therefore we are unlikely to fight a conventional war that lasts for any significant length of time. However, the US's interests and the interests of other governments conflict on certain matters, some of which are of sufficient importance that force will be used. So we are likely to fight wars in the future, albeit not conventional ones.

So the Pentagon bureacuracy that is set up to fight WW2-style wars needs to adapt, and learn to fight unconventional wars. Unsurprisingly, the Pentagon bureaucracy is resisting change.

Rumsfeld is the man President Bush chose to reform the Pentagon. He started doing that (does anyone else remember his cancellation of the Crusader, Comanche, and other nifty knicknacks of great expense and questionable usefulness?). In doing so, stepped on a great many toes and created a great many enemies in the Pentagon bureacuracy.

Now the US is fighting a non-conventional war, and learning how to do it the hard way. Rumsfeld, as the Secretary of Defense, is recieving the lion's share of the criticism for this, some of which is justified, but much of which is not. But it is not at all surprising that the enemies Rumsfeld has made in the Pentagon bureaucracy would pile in, and the criticism of the man's decisions without presenting alternatives and mentioning the drawbacks of those alternatives is telling, IMO.

Most of all, I mistrust 'analysis' conducted by media organizations that have repeatedly demonstrated tremendous ignorance of military operations... and I'm sorry to say that accounts for the overwhelming majority of what I'm seeing.

posted by: rosignol on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"Why should Rummy still be the Secretary of Defense?"

Well, if you go by what one reads in Cobra II and also along the same lines in Assassins' Gate Rumsfeld and Cheney are the administration when it comes to foreign policy and Bush is just the puppet that moves its mouth when given liberty to do so. Therefore, there's no one who can push him out and regardless even if he were to go how would that impact on Cheney? If Rumsfeld leaves now, which would be at least 2 years too late, he'd leave behind a legacy that will be ravaged by history, and if he gets ravaged, so does Cheney - so might as well hang on and hope for a redemptive miracle that they can take full credit for : somewhere there's an aircraft carrier waiting to unfurl a banner that reads "Mission Accomplished - and this time we mean it".

posted by: saintsimon on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



The lesson Rumsfeld learned from Vietnam was do Vietnamization from the start. Don't make the Iraqi's dependent on the US. We couldn't put enough boots on the ground in the first place and would just ataganoize the Iraqis. Go light, stay light, and train an Iraqi force.

Sounds good. So when did Rumsfeld first get them started training an effective iraqi force? Ideally that should have started in May 2003, right? The planning for it should have started before the war?

No, Rumsfeld's plan was that we would be welcomed by the freed iraqis who would love us and who would peacefully accept democracy under our guidance, and since no one would dare invade them with our bases there they wouldn't need a military.

The idea that we didn't have enough troops and we'd only antagonise the iraqis came to him much much later.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



I wouldn't have a problem with doing what the Pentagon bureaucracy thinks should be done so long as every war we're going to fight from here on out is going to be like WW2... but everyone knows that's not how it's going to be.

I don't at all see our military prepared to refight WWII. We depend on a relatively small elite force to fight exceptionally well. We have no emphasis on training ten times their number quickly. But yes, the military has a whole lot of emphasis on winning big wars. This is not unreasonable. If we choose not to fight an unconventional war in some third-world country, it doesn't hurt us much at all. But if we choose not to fight a great big war, our alternative is surrender.

So the Pentagon bureacuracy that is set up to fight WW2-style wars needs to adapt, and learn to fight unconventional wars. Unsurprisingly, the Pentagon bureaucracy is resisting change.

Bureaucracies are like that. Shinseki ran a campaign to change things around but he was runnig into resistance. He tried to get a consensus and he might have been making progress.

Rumsfeld is the man President Bush chose to reform the Pentagon. He started doing that (does anyone else remember his cancellation of the Crusader, Comanche, and other nifty knicknacks of great expense and questionable usefulness?). In doing so, stepped on a great many toes and created a great many enemies in the Pentagon bureacuracy.

I thought getting rid of Crusader was a very good thing, it was mostly the contractors who made it who were lobbying for it. Rumsfeld could guarantee them other, larger contracts. FCS is the largest, most expensive military project we've ever tried, and it's getting pushed with top-down planning. That is, first they decide a great plan for the whole integrated system, and then they decide what tools they'll need to make that work, and they specify what those tools have to do, and they put out contracts on them. This works very well when the original strategy designed without testing turns out to be correct, and when the tools turn out to meet spec. More often it leads to big delays and cost overruns.

The DARPA approach works better. Come up with ideas for tools that are likely to be useful, get many variations on them, and then see how useful they can be. Build strategy on known tools. But it's less transformative and more evolutionary.

So anyway, Rumsfeld came in and told the army "I know how to make you fight better. Do it my way and in 2018 things will be much improved." And various guys in the army said, "Hey wait a minute, here's a small detail that could be a show-stopper, this has to be taken care of." And Rumsfeld said, "No, I'm the SOD and you're a flunkey, do what I say or else." It isn't surprising he'd make enemies. Will his plan work? We'll get to do extensive testing starting in 2014.

Rumsfeld started from the results he wanted for *conventional* wars, and he worked backward to what we'd have to do to get those results, and then he assumed it would all work. We need armor that's lighter so we can transport it easier. A lot of heavy armor that needs to be in mongolia in one month isn't much good in San Diego. So we need a way for light armor to do the job of heavy armor. Similarly, large forces have tremendous logistic needs, so we need a way for small forces to do the job of large forces. In a conventional war. Rumsfeld has given little thought to any other kind.

So we depend on mobility and great communications and lots of air support. If any of the three fail our small forces are in trouble. And they can expect to take casualties regardless. But we have to make something along those lines work if we're going to fight a big conventional land war in asia.

Now the US is fighting a non-conventional war, and learning how to do it the hard way.

We've known how to do it all along. We did it successfully in the philippines. You get a military victory in this kind of thing by doing atrocities against the civilians until they unconditionally surrender. You can't keep insurgents from killing civilians, and insurgents can't keep you from killing civilians. You kill more of them and there's no hope in hell the insurgents can drive you away. The civilians will surrender and inform on the insurgents so you'll stop killing them. They'll stay surrendered for a generation or so and by that time you'll have a lot of collaborators who'll keep the new insurgents away from anything important.

It works. The trouble is, it takes overwhelming force, and it takes a lot of atrocities. It's hard to do it that way and claim you're bringing democracy to them for their own good. If you want to be nice to the locals you can't expect a military solution. But we're trying to get our military to do reconstruction and social work etc because we don't have anybody else to do it.

Our military bureaucracy rightly resents being required to do social work etc when they're trying to retool for war with china.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



To all of those who said variations on: "Rumsfeld was at war with the Generals over transformation long before 911.":

Yes, they were. They didn't think that Rumsfields plan, summarized nicely as 'Special Forces and target spotters for the Air Force" was intelligent.

They were right.

As for Rumsfield's tranformaion, his latest budget is right back into the sort of weapons intended to fight the USSR with. It'd take a talented analyst from before 9/11 to figure out that 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq even happened. Which, in my vocabulary, is called 'same old same old', not 'transformation'.

posted by: Barry on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Dan,

I'm gonna have to drop you off my list of "intelligent conservatives a knee jerk liberal can tolerate" if you post something like this again.

Rumsfeld has offered in his resignation numerous times and each time Bush has rejected it.

-Mike

ps, of course I'll never drop you off my RSS Reader. But does it irk you that you are one of the few blogs that knee jerk liberals like myself can tolerate?

posted by: Mike on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Having disagreed often with Mark Buehner, let me take the opportunity to agree 100% with his comments above. The generals who put obsequiousness to Rumsfeld above the nation's mission and the welfare of their own troops, cannot now pretend it was all Rummy's fault. Cf. the self-serving remarks of the German generals after 1945: "oh, it was that stupid Hitler's fault," etc.

That said, I have to assume that the buzz is right and the present dissent is pointed forward to Iran, not backward to Iraq.

posted by: Anderson on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



If the criticism of Rumsfeld were coming from people who supported President Bush's policy in Iraq and who were just arguing that Rumsfeld had been ineffective in implementing it, then I suppose I would pay some attention to what they were saying. But since it's just a disguised way to attack President Bush and to refight the decision to overthrow Hussein, I see no reason to bother with it.

posted by: DBL on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



The real question is:

Why wasn't he fired two years ago?

posted by: Babar on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



nevermind, DBL answered my question.

posted by: Babar on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"Remind me again.... why hasn't Rumsfeld resigned?"

He's accomplished a tremendous amount with a historically low number of combat deaths would be my guess.

posted by: joe on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



2364 Deaths to 17269 Wounded.

Not bad.

posted by: Babar on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Rumsfeld can't take credit for the new battle armor.

But he can take credit for getting the new battle armor to so many of the troops.

The big majority of US troops in iraq have armor now, and a sizeable minority of iraqi soldiers have some kind of body armor.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"2364 Deaths to 17269 Wounded.

Not bad."


Compared to what?

Since the war was started upon false pretenses 1 death is one too many.

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Not to be picky, but even the two year ago piece seems to suffer from 20/20 hindsight, in the sense that it doesn't really say which ex ante benchmark Rumsfeld benchmark flunked ex post.

Yes, there were adverse outcomes, but I don't see a clear statement of why those outcomes aren't just "bad luck", as opposed to bad policy or bad planning or bad execution.

One argument I would make is that before the U.S. went into Iraq, several things were well known:
1. Iraq's military capability had been devastated by the first gulf war.
2. Their military capability had been further devastated by a decade of trade restrictions.
3. The U.S. military had had the benefit of ten years of a healthy economy and extremely rapid technological progress.

Therefore, the neutral prior would be to assume that:
1. The military victory would be much easier than the first gulf war.
2. Reconstruction would be difficult in an economy and society decimated by forty years of extremely bad governance. I.e. if corporate takeovers or mergers of distressed companies are hard to manage, imagine what it's like to do so in countries.

Then one could say, anybody who asserted that the lower troop levels were adequate, was clearly not well-informed. (or something like that)

In other words, I'm not sure there was a credible definition of what would have constituted effective management, nor am I convinced that the ex post critiques are valid.

posted by: Robert Bell on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Robert Bell, if you want a definition of success in iraq, perhaps you might go by the administration's own predictions.

If the company CEO says to expect a 50 million dollar profit, and it turns out to be a 50 million dollar loss, that's some indication that things have not gone well. If the CFO makes the prediction and the CEO doesn't correct it, then it came from the CEO.

Wolfowitz said that the war would cost around $5 billion, and iraqi oil sales would finance the reconstruction. Nobody contradicted him at the time. Rumsfeld said that the war would be over quickly (as it was) and that no more than 50,000 occupation troops would be needed in six months. Somebody, I forget exactly which high administration official, did say it would be a cakewalk.

Judging by the administrations own pre-factg critique, it's safe to say things are far worse than they could reasonably expect.

We could make the argument that prewar administration claims wsre not reasonable, or that they were lying, but neither approach makes them look better than figuring things are not proceeding well by their own standards.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



rosignol sez:

"So the Pentagon bureacuracy that is set up to fight WW2-style wars needs to adapt, and learn to fight unconventional wars. Unsurprisingly, the Pentagon bureaucracy is resisting change."

That is simply not true. Ever since VN, the warfighting philosophies have strongly considered how to fight a non-conventional war and the senior officers are, for the most part, either graduates of Vietnam or the minds that continued to explore the issues of warfighting in an environment like Viet Nam. This includes how to deal with a probable invasion of Iraq and the sequelae since it was high on anyone's list in the years between Desert Storm and the present effort.
I stayed in the Reserves from the time I was drafted during VN until 1997, basically as a civilian physician. I graduated from a number of military schools including Command and General Staff College and War College mostly because it was an intellectual challenge. I learned that the planning aspect of warfighting is done by highly intelligent politically aware soldiers who were not refighting WWII, rather they were looking at all the possible threats to our security while planning and training accordingly.
If anyone saw the Frontline piece on the beginnings of the Iraq war several years ago, it showed that GEN Tommy Franks fought the battle that GEN Zinni retired over and lost to the pressure from the SecDef and to his own ambition. It is not a coincidence that the present Chief of Staff made a public statement in favor of Sec Rumsfeld, he was placed there because he made sure that the administration was aware of his unbending loyalty. Most of the critics of the war at the senior officer level have been either asked to leave, court martialed, or supressed. At the start of the war there was an outcry by these officers that the war was being fought on the cheap and would result in exactly the disaster we now have.
The happiest day of my life was the day I was sitting in the Iraqi desert with my MASH unit in 1991 waiting to go to Baghdad and the president announced our withdrawal. There was universal relief because everyone that I spoke to knew we would be there for years if we went. We are still in Europe, Korea, and Japan 50 or more years after those conflicts.
The military culture that MG Batiste mentioned at least 4 times on public TV yesterday has a strong effect on public comments concerning the civilian leadership of the Armed Forces. Even the criticism of President Clinton was considered bad form by most senior officers (COL and above, I was a COL at the time) and the rapid retirement of that particular COL who called the president "a pot smoking womanizing draft-dodger" was felt to be proper if not appreciated by the vast majority of officers in the service even though they were not "thrilled" to have that particular president.
There is a strong ethic that civilian leadership is the best and most proper way to run the Armed Forces of the United States amongst the entire membership not just because it is in the constitution, but because the present law was the brain child of GEN Creighton Abrams put into law by Barry Goldwater (also a Reserve General) and Bill Nichols (the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, both were strong conservatives) which emphasizes the civilian leadership. Speaking out while on active duty is an extraordiary act. But then for such ambitious and professional men such as MG Batiste to resign in protest when he could have had a third and most likely a fourth star is also extraordinary.
To say that these men are protesting too much in order to have their time in the limelight is to demonstrate that you don't know much about General Officers.
The ironic part of this continued defense of the SecDef is that the arguments used (generals are hidebound traditionalists, they are self aggrandizing, they are pissed off) only lacks the "warmongering" label to be the same as those thrown at senior officers by the radical left. To a person every general officer I met was intelligent (they all have graduate degrees of some kind), dedicated (they could be making a lot more money with the same credentials in the civilian world), ambitious, and very professional. They tend to be extraordinary people with strong leadership capability and strong opinions. For the most part these opinions are desired in the warfighting business because they are always backed up by research, testing, and experience. They often disagree in detail but they have a way of making it work. From what I could see Sec. Rumsfeld ignored all of their advice when he learned that a troop of Boy Scouts could probably take Iraq (which no one disputed) and felt that the Iraqi people would welcome us as liberators flocking to make Iraq safe for democracy and thus we would not need troops to secure the country, deal with insurgency (suprise!), and train the security forces of the country which they should have kept on in the first place (another suggestion SecDef refused to try.) The administration was befuddled when it didn't work even though that result was predicted by virtually every officer of O-4 and above.
As MG Batiste said "We do our job and salute" but they don't have to like it. When the generals have a chance to save lives and possibly the economic and ethical core of the country, they spoke out.

posted by: mikeyes on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Hey Cranky,

You say: "He is NOT the "commander-in-chief" of the United States, its citizens, or me."

Stop paying your income taxes. See what happens.

Funny how leftists never accept results of elections they lost.

posted by: Albert on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



J. Thomas: Thanks for that quote:

"Rumsfeld said that the war would be over quickly (as it was) and that no more than 50,000 occupation troops "

Do you happen to have a link?

To be precise as to the nature of the shortcoming of Rumsfeld - would you claim that he should be sacked because of incorrect assessment, or because of the presumably negative consequences of that incorrect assessment?

posted by: Robert Bell on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



First of all, by all accounts Rumsfeld had to overcome significant opposition in the military to get the Afghan operation moving correctly. His ideas about stressing special forces and air support in combination with indigenous allies were considered heresy by the Army. Rumsfeld was right--his approach was the only way to do it on a reasonable timeline and without getting crosswise of Afghan suspicions about large foreign occupations. I highly doubt that William Cohen would have produced this result.

In Iraq, the PLAN was for the 4th Armored to come down from Turkey and smash the Sunni Triangle. The State Dept. said, "No problem! We'll use our diplomatic wizardry and get permission from Turkey in no time flat." Unfortunately, that assessment was about as accurate as Hermann Goering promising that he could supply Stalingrad from the air. So we went in with, what, 2/3 of the troops specified in the Franks PLAN? Worse, Anbar province never faced the wrath of the US military under wartime rules of engagement and so the locals got the idea that an insurgency was a good idea. It took a long time to disabuse them of this notion. (BTW, all the 20-20 hindsight here about how easy everyone knew OIF would be is BS. Rumsfeld and Franks were criticized viciously [often anonymously] by Army officers in and out of service for not following the standard deployment tables as forces were shipped into the theater. Not enough heavy equipment and artillery, we were told. Once again, Rumsfeld and Franks were right and the critics wrong.)

Finally, the biggest screwup of the war was the failure to immediately embed US troops and officers in a new Iraqi army, as we did in the "small wars" of the Carribean and the Phillipines. The model of a small number of Americans commanding, then later advising, native units is the best way of dealing with the type of counterinsurgency/political conflict we faced in Iraq. Yet they waited almost two years to follow that model. Once they did, yep, it started working just like it usually does. I don't know whose fault that lag was--the military, the State Dept, Rumsfeld--but that sticks out to me as the biggest mistake of the war. (The argument against disbanding the Iraqi army has been debunked so many times it's not worth doing it again.) So if that was Rumsfeld's fault that's a big negative against his successes.

Personally, I'd much rather have Rummy in there than a Cohen-type.

posted by: steve on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Robert Bell, I don't have that link handy. It was over 3 years ago and I didn't back up links before a disk crash. But surely you were around at the time. There was nothing controversial about it. It got quoted in all the major papers, right?

I personally don't have much opinion about firing Rumsfeld. In the short run I expect we'd get a lot of confusion after he was gone. A lot of people at least know where they stand now. The confusion might be about as bad as having Rummy stay on until Bush and Cheney are impeached, or even until the end of their term.

I predict that Bush will dump Rummy. Here is my reasoning. When Bush most needs a break about iraq, he can fire Rummy, claim it's all Rummy's fault, put in somebody new to fix things, and any criticism gets the response "You're talking about history. Our new guy is fixing things up as fast as he can and it's far too soon to say it isn't working. Give him a chance and don't jog his elbow.". That ought to be good for a year or so, maybe longer.

So ideally Bush would want to dump Rummy at the optimal time, the time he could best use that break. On the other hand, if the criticism gets too bad then Bush will dump Rummy early.

When Rummy gets dumped has nothing to do with whether he ought to get dumped for the good of the country, or when he ought to get dumped for the good of the country. Talking about which cabinet member to fire is a lot like talking about which player a baseball coach should trade, except that public opinion might have more influence on the baseball coach.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]




In Iraq, the PLAN was for the 4th Armored to come down from Turkey and smash the Sunni Triangle. The State Dept. said, "No problem! We'll use our diplomatic wizardry and get permission from Turkey in no time flat." Unfortunately, that assessment was about as accurate as Hermann Goering promising that he could supply Stalingrad from the air.

Have you ever heard of contingency plans ? It was obvious from the begining that TUrkey might refuse passage (and the State Department promised no such thing)

posted by: erg on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



There are some 9,000 retired US generals. Admittedly, those who have served in Iraq like MG Batiste are considerably fewer. But at the highest levels, these are political appointees, and Rumsfeld is the best man and biggest change-maker to hit the military in forty years. He brings real world big-organization experience from the private sector, and making the military leaner, more unit self-sufficient, and mission capable isn't in the old Cold War playbook. Thus, these gripes are the predictable result of past inertia and the struggle to adapt to new ways necessitated by new mobile technology and a new, very un-Cold War-like mission.

I read Zinni's book when it came out and his objections were starkly insubstantial. He's still waging set-piece battles, when the Gulf War is be the last one we'll see in our lives. In fact, the failures of the US military in Iraq after the change-making victory, are more attributable to the old style military than the new. How do we know? Remember how big reconstruction projects were emphasized under Bremer? Well, they failed under the terror attacks of the insurgency because so visible and easily attacked. Instead, smaller, more creative, more focused projects replaced Big Cold War style rebuilding projects. And what happened? Morale improved. US -Iraqi relations improved.

I've met many US soldier over the past winter, vacationing or recreating (from Fort Carson, the AF Academy, or Peterson AFB) here in Colorado's ski resorts. Morale is good; soldiers believe in the mission. But they are wary of how civilians see them, given the constant drumb beat of negative news coverage from Iraq in the US.

Ultimately, as other bloggers like wretchard and Dafydd Al Hugh have noted, these attacks are simply an extension of "get Bush" anti-war and anti-Iraq pile on that's gotten out of control between the Dems and the bus in the elite media, and lost all credibility.

Brookings numbers show that Iraq really is getting better. Soldiers deaths are down over the past six months stright, civilian deaths are down, and even human rights groups agree that civilian deaths are a fraction of what they were under Saddam. Add to these objective indicators, three successful elections that have caused countrywide conflict to collapse and the remainder to focus on Baghdad - in other words, where the real power is being decided. An email from an Aussie Colonel pointed out that only western media reported "civil war is near" in Iraq - not the Arabic media. Do you really suppose our non-Arabic speaking press know more than those who do? This Colonel said Sunni's defended Shi'ite shrines, and Shi'ites protected Sunni Mosques. A recent Pew survey showed Iraqi's are about the most optimistic as any people on the planet - almost as optimistic as those hell-hole veterans in Canada! Really, Dan, your notion of failure is really wacked.

The only exception to declining objective numbers are US injuries (which vary in the last half year), which respond more to mission tempo than anything else right now. I find the stark disconnect between reality and "media" to be a sad, misleading joke on the people, corrupting our political discussion ("it's Vietnam, all the time" with them). They ought to be ashamed for giving succor to evil terrorists, prolonging the war, costing more innocent lives, and righteously hunned by us all! But only in a just world.

Finally, as for Rumsfeld, as the book has it, it is "Rumsfeld's War." I trust and enjoy him more than Bush, such that this Badnarik voting libertarian would be more likely to vote for Rummy for prez than Bush. He is articulate, informed, experienced, and successful well-beyond Bush's resume. That the Secretary of Defense rubs some under him the wrong way only makes him more appealing because organizational changes have been so long-overdue for the military. And leadership isn't a popularity contest, Dan. You seem to always forget that truth when is comes to Rummy.

posted by: Orson Olson on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]




Brookings numbers show that Iraq really is getting better. Soldiers deaths are down over the past six months stright, civilian deaths are down,

Soldiers deaths have gone up again this month as the American army has stepped up patrols.
Civilian deaths are emphatically not down. Brookings numbers do not capture death as a result of sectarian violence.

and even human rights groups agree that civilian deaths are a fraction of what they were under Saddam. Add to these objective indicators, three successful elections that have caused countrywide conflict to collapse and the remainder to focus on Baghdad -

What are you smoking ? Can I have some of it ? 2 Marines were kiled and 22 wounded yesterday in Anbar province. Militias rule the roost even in "peaceful" Basra. Countrywide conflict collapsed, indeed.

An email from an Aussie Colonel pointed out that only western media reported "civil war is near" in Iraq - not the Arabic media.

Someone must have forgotten to tell Iyad Allawi this -- he said that civil war was actually already there in Iraq. Someone must also have forgotten to tell Iraqi bloggers this. Incidentally, Arabic media most definitely reported the possibility or even the incidence of civil war.

posted by: erg on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"I've met many US soldier ... here in Colorado's ski resorts. Morale is good; soldiers believe in the mission" --Orson Olson

And yet I just came across this in today's Washington Post: "A poll of 944 troops serving in Iraq released by Zogby International ... found that 72 percent think the United States should withdraw within a year and more than a quarter think it should leave immediately. 'That and other questions lead to the obvious conclusion that they're not sure they're doing anything positive over there anymore,' said pollster John Zogby." (This from the article where Bush interrupts his Easter vacation to lend support to Rummy.)

I'm sure Zogby's sample size is larger that Olson's. And seems to fall more in line with other things I've read. Soldiers are losing faith in the war and that is a serious problem.

posted by: St. James the Lesser on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



>> You say: "He is NOT the "commander-in-chief"
>> of the United States, its citizens, or me."

> Stop paying your income taxes. See what
> happens.

Not following your logic there Tootles. If I fail to pay my income taxes, the IRS (a civilian agency of the US Gov't, subject to oversight from Congress and review by civilian courts) will refer the case the the Justice Dept (a civilian agency of the US Gov't, subject to oversight from Congress and review by civilian courts) for possible prosecution. Should the Justice Dept proceed, a grand jury of civilians would review and approve the indictment prior to an adversarial trial before a jury of my (civilian) peers. Note the complete lack of a military chain of command, abridged set of Constitution rights, courts martial, minimal oversight, and unappealable decisions which characterize a military environment.

I find it sad that I now have to specify "civilian" in my discussion above; this "commander-in-chief" meme seems to have so infected our society that people really are starting to think that the default state of American citizens is to be part of a military organization/under military orders.

> Funny how leftists never accept results of
> elections they lost.

Again not sure what that has to do with the Radicals attempting to impose a military command-and-control system on the United States in place of our republic/democracy hybrid. The point is that the President is "commander-in-chief" of the Army and Navy only, not the bulk of the polity.

Cranky

posted by: Cranky Observer on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



The bottom line that this administration had a hard-on for Iraq before they even stepped into office, so Rummy was just an enabler.

The half-assed planning was largely spawned by spin, dishonest reasoning and a rush to justify invasion.

Rummy may be damned, but they are all tied to the same line, and rightly so. Their legacy of failure should be rewarded with permanent street patrol duty in Basra.

posted by: Babar on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



One more note on the question about the integrity of the generals speaking up:

Most of them are resigning/retiring before they have to. Several were nominated for a 3rd star but chose to retire instead. A strange choice for a self-aggrandizing individual, whose career had always been aimed at attaining the highest ranks in the military.

While Zinni may have a book to sale (and his message has always been pretty consistent, the others, particularly Batiste, Swannack and Eaton are actually choosing the only honorable way out--retiring and then speaking up.

And for those who evaluate the quality of the Iraq effort based on battle deaths, I would suggest you consider the longer term interests and objectives of the US--how has the Iraq war effected our war on terrorism? I would say the war has largely been a distraction, with the exception that it has probably led to more folks enlisting against US.

posted by: Steve Saideman on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Robert Bell, I don't have that link handy. It was over 3 years ago and I didn't back up links before a disk crash. But surely you were around at the time. There was nothing controversial about it. It got quoted in all the major papers, right?


I don't recall seeing that, but that says more about my memory than anything else. How about googling up some linkage for us?

posted by: rosignol on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



It would be easier to evaluate these generals' criticisms if the media that touts them was a little more forthcoming about who they are.

In particular, I would like to know what their branch was before becoming a general office. The institutional background of a person is important information. If someone has a special forces background, for example, one might expect them to have a different perspective on Rumsfeld's transformation than an armor or artillery officer.

Second, I would like to know who the general is going to go work for in "retirement." Most generals don't retire to Key West. They go work for military contractors -- some of whom have good reason to dislike Rumsfeld.

The silence in published reports of such deeply relevant background information leads me to suspect that it is being deliberately withheld. Without it I really can't evaluate these stories, and thus I won't.

posted by: Simon on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]




Second, I would like to know who the general is going to go work for in "retirement." Most generals don't retire to Key West. They go work for military contractors -- some of whom have good reason to dislike Rumsfeld.

You're not serious, are you ? Military contractors might dislike Rumsfeld (although I don't know why), but they all know not to get on the bad side of the guy who disburses the checks (not writes them, we do that)

posted by: erg on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"You're not serious, are you ? Military contractors might dislike Rumsfeld (although I don't know why), but they all know not to get on the bad side of the guy who disburses the checks (not writes them, we do that)"

You must not have been paying much attention to what Rumsfeld has been doing in the DoD in the last few years. Among the casualties of Rumsfeld's restructuring of the military have been a number of boondoggle high dollar weapons systems. For example, the Crusader howizer. There are indeed economic interests who would dearly love to replace Rumsfeld with someone more pliant, and with a more conventional "tanks and armor" mindset. And since those same interests have a habit of hiring retiring generals to do govennment relations for them, I'd be interested to see who is talking to whom.

Too many of these articles push the myth of the dispassionate professional. There is really no such thing. Everybody has interests, and an article that doesn't address them isn't sufficiently balanced or informative for me to evaluate as news.

posted by: Simon on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"Remind me again.... why hasn't Rumsfeld resigned?"

Actually, he has. The reason you don't notice is he was replaced with an android.

posted by: Len on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Simon, you may not have noticed but all the boondoggle high-dollar weapons systems have already been replaced by new projects, and more.

Probably some contractors have gotten the short end of the stick in the swspover, but the ones he's buying from are getting considerably more money now than the ones he isn't buying from have lost.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]




You must not have been paying much attention to what Rumsfeld has been doing in the DoD in the last few years. Among the casualties of Rumsfeld's restructuring of the military have been a number of boondoggle high dollar weapons systems. For example, the Crusader howizer. There are indeed economic interests who would dearly love to replace Rumsfeld with someone more pliant, and with a more conventional "tanks and armor" mindset.

You must not have noticed it, but the defense budget has actually gone up considerably over the last few years. YEs, a few weapons systems have been cancelled. But there have been numerous new projects and weapons systems commissioned (communications, electronics, networks, smart bombs).

No defense contractor would dare to try and remove a sitting Secretary of Defense. The possibility of an enraged Secretary cutting off their contracts is too high.

posted by: erg on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



We need a secretary of defense who understands that our country is in deep economic trouble and canít afford constantly increasing military expenditures. It would also be nice if that person at least vaguely understood why Hamilton & Madison hoped to tie the hands of government to prevent offensive wars. We have an incompetent government and a cabinet top-heavy with incompetent ideologues.
Roman civilization had many admirable features. Militarism and the idea that Romans had the right to intervene and invade anywhere brought it down, just as they are taking The American economic empire down.

posted by: frog judge on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"No defense contractor would dare to try and remove a sitting Secretary of Defense. The possibility of an enraged Secretary cutting off their contracts is too high."

Which is, of course, why it would be rather convenient for it all to be done on the name and reputation of a "neutral and dispassionate" former general, who, like most retiring generals, is probably going private sector.

I am not suggesting that someone from a contractor has put a proverbial contract out on Rummy. Just that Rummy and his efforts to cut back on some of the more expensive and unnecessary legacy weapons projects has bruised a lot of egos, and upset a lot of applecarts, and they have their own ways of pushing back. Not all of those bruised egos and upset applecarts are inside the more hidebound quarters of the Pentagon. Bureaucratic rent seeking behavior forms natural alliances.

Of course, none of this necessarily applies to the recent critics. They may have no mixed motives at all. I think that is unlikely, but it is certainly possible. But in any case, in order to evaluate them, we need some decent reporting done on these critics so we know who they really are, and so far that hasn't happened. I'm not satisfied with being told that someone is a general and that is all I need to know. I have known some generals, and they are people like anyone else - complete with interests, biases, and so on. So why is it that the journalists aren't including this information?

posted by: Simon on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Simon, you should apply the same standards to every administration admirer. If they say for example that things are improving in iraq, ignore them until you find out all about their motives.

Better yet, publicly cast doubt about their claims because the media hasn't thoroughly reported on their motives.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"How can this kind of criticism be ignored."

When it's wrong.

"Why should Rummy still be SECDEF?"

Because he presided over the most amazing military victory since Zama. The notion that the complete liberation of 50 million people at the cost of only about 3000 military lives, and the delivery of a significantly democratic government to two countries that had been under fascist control for decades, with supply lines 12,000 to 20,000 miles long, in only five years, is a failure is one that ought to be an embarrassment to anyone with a longer historical horizon than "who do I want to win the next election?"

posted by: Charlie (Colorado) on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



> I am not suggesting that someone from a
> contractor has put a proverbial contract
> out on Rummy. Just that Rummy and his efforts
> to cut back on some of the more expensive and
> unnecessary legacy weapons projects has bruised
> a lot of egos, and upset a lot of applecarts,

A classmate of mine was working on one of the cancelled projects for 7 years, and he reported they were laughing in the aisles when the cancellation was announced: they couldn't believe they had managed to milk it for almost 20 years before it was finally put out of its misery. Time to get the next RFP response submitted....

Let's tally a bit:

Crusader............. minus 3 billion
Missile defense....... plus 10 billion
M1 tank upgrade.......minus 0.5 billion
Future Combat Sys.....plus 300 billion

hmmm, well, that's a net gain of 306.5 billion by my count. Oh, wait: forgot the Airborne Laser. Too bad it had to go back into the shop after its first flight for another $2 billion of repairs!

The big defense contractors (helpfully reduced from 12 or so to 3 by Mr. Cheney) all know the game. Win some, lose some; long contracts, short contracts. Beat the other guy and subcontract to him; lose to the other guy and receive subcontracts from him. No one except the groundpounders actually facing fire from bad guys is unhappy with Rummy.

W.

posted by: George W. Bush on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Charlie (Colorado), I'm having a little bit of trouble parsing your hype.

If it was an amazing victory, should we have attempted it? Since it was entirely a war of choice, better not to try the real long shots. Much better if it had been a sure thing.

But then, you seem to assume that it's going to be a success and we'll actually win in the next few years. Looking at how it's going now, I'm stuck with the opposite question -- if *this* is an amazing victory, why did we even try? For what it's cost so far we could have bought iraq and afghanistan with a lot of change left over.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



JT,

I'm not quite sure I follow the logic behind your implication that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq simply because it would be too easy. But I'll be satisfied if you don't explain.

But to your answer of why we even tried to invade:

- Putting an end to a modern day holocaust in Iraq (when your descendents ask if you supported the holocaust in Iraq, what will you answer?)

- Answering the question of WMDs (which was not going to happen under UN purview for what are now well known reasons)

- Removing Dictator from power who had the resources (oil - yes, it's about oil, but not for the puerile reasons chanted on college campuses) to rebuild, and will to use, what was one of the largest armies on earth 15 years ago.

- Enforce international law.

Do those answers satisfy? They're all factual and non-speculative.

posted by: Qwichrbichn on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



"Simon, you should apply the same standards to every administration admirer. If they say for example that things are improving in iraq, ignore them until you find out all about their motives.

Better yet, publicly cast doubt about their claims because the media hasn't thoroughly reported on their motives."

I don't need to do that, because the media does it for me. The media only seem to be disinterested in the conflicts of interests of Bush opponents. They seem to show no such coyness when the person concerned has something nice to say.

But when it comes to critics, it seems this is background that the public can't be trusted to handle, which just fuels my suspicion that there is something being hidden. (See e.g. Joe Wilson, Richard Clarke, etc.) We have been sold this line about how noble and unbiased these critics are before. I would have thought by now the legitimacy of wanting to just be told the background would have sunk in.

Given that these are not public figures, the burden is on the media to do their jobs dispassionately and give us enough information to make an informed judgment. An intelligent consumer of news should demand no less.

posted by: Simon on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Qwichr, you seem to have completely misread my post so it's no wonder you misunderstood.

He said it is an amazing victory. My thought was that if it's amazing that we're doing this well, that sounds like a good reason for caution. If *this* is an unexpectedly good outcome, better not to try.

I don't know if there will be a holocaust in iraq, but I don't want one and no, I don't support it. But I'm not at all clear what we can do to avoid it if it's coming.

They're all factual and non-speculative.

[shrug] One man's fact is another man's spin.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



I'm doing some quick research for an informal poster I'd like to make. I'm having a very hard time finding the actual quote from Rumsfield about only wanting to deploy 60,000 troops to Iraq in 2003 and him claiming it will only take a few weeks and we'll be out of there.

Can anyone help me locate the ACTUAL QUOTES from him? (If they do, in fact, exist?)

posted by: Mister Eaves on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



Mister, I did a quick web search and didn't find the actual quotes.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8770418/site/newsweek/

I did find the above link, which claims he planned to reduce troop levels that low. But it didn't quote him as announcing it.

"After U.S. forces took Baghdad, the Defense secretary had plans to reduce the U.S. presence in Iraq to 40,000 troops by the fall of 2003. Then the insurgency struck."

I tend to doubt that Newsweek would claim those were the plans without evidence, but it isn't the quote you wanted.

I found a few other quotes that made similar claims. "The Socialist" claimed the plans called for 30,000 to 60,000 by July, for example, but I figured you'd rather have Newsweek.

It took me several minutes to get this far, and my wife says to come to bed. Maybe I'll find more later.

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



As a current member of the military, many members don't give a damn what the generals, retired or active, think. There is something about spending time in higher HQ, especially the Pentagon that warps your thinking. As to whether Rumsfeld should resign or not, there seems to be two points to consider. The first is how is he treating the military members with his handling of matters in Iraq and elsewhere. And second, how does this affect the nation's interests. I can't complain, as to the affect on the military. Most of the problems stem from still having a Cold War mentality and structure. However, I'll let others debate the effect on the US's interests.

posted by: Dan on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



As a current member of the military, [....] I'll let others debate the effect on the US's interests.

That is quite appropriate.

There is something about spending time in higher HQ, especially the Pentagon that warps your thinking.

No doubt that's true for civilians there too, like the SoD.

It suddenly occurred to me, would our military be worse off or better off if the Pentagon got nuked?

And then I had a worse thought. Would the USA be worse off or better off if Washington, DC got nuked?

Not saying, just asking....

posted by: J Thomas on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]



http://www.danieldrezner.com/mt/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=2680

posted by: Steve on 04.13.06 at 10:43 AM [permalink]






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