Friday, December 15, 2006

Heckuva job, Rummy

Donald Rumsfeld was demobilized from his job at the Pentagon, a few years too late. There is little chance of demobilization anytime soon for the soldiers and Marines in Iraq. Instead they're likely to be stuck in the quagmire for another two years, with the National Guard called back again and again.

Heckuva job, Rummy. That's essentially what our willful idiot president said to Rumsfeld at his resignation ceremony. Bush said "he always put the troops first, and the troops know it."

Unfortunately, he didn't put in enough troops at first, and looting and insurgency quickly spiraled out of control. He wanted to follow his obsession of smaller, more mobile forces instead of following his generals' advice that it would take hundreds of thousands more troops to pacify Iraq. By all accounts, when the statue of Saddam came down, Rumsfeld started to lose interest. But before he went back to his pet project of transforming the military, he made some crucial bad decisions that have transformed the military in deadly ways.

First, he wouldn't accept any advice from the State Department, the British or anyone else on managing post-war Iraq. The "consummate bureaucratic warrior" had to keep control within his office. Second, he created the insurgency as we know it by ordering colonial administrator Paul Bremer to demobilize the Iraq army and fire all Baath party members from their jobs, thus rendering the institutions of the country unmanaged and creating 350,000 armed enemies.

While he was putting his troops first, he did so without giving them adequate body armor or adequate strategies to deal with the enemies he had put on the street. And he refused to listen to the few generals who dared tell him his notions were wrong. In fact, he tended to fire them. The man's arrogance is such that he has compared himself to Churchill. If you think he bears no resemblance to Churchill, remember that Churchill was the man who gave Britain Gallipoli. Rumsfeld has given America a four-year Gallipoli.

Before Rumsfeld left the Pentagon office he held so long, he said a few words, typically stubborn and obtuse, aimed at keeping American troops in Iraq. "Today, it should be clear that not only is weakness provocative, but the perception of weakness on our part can be provocative as well," he said, among other things.

Who created that perception of a weak America? It was the triumverate of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld who conjured a war we cannot win and shouldn't have waged, a war that has killed tens of thousands, shamed our nation and broken our military.

That's the word, "broken." Even the Army chief of staff used it, when Rumsfeld was safely halfway out the door. He left as the second longest-serving secretary of defense after Robert McNamara, who also left behind a hopeless war. And a broken military.

Unlike McNamara, though, Rumsfeld won't suffer a guilty conscience. A conscience is required.

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