Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"Throwing Rumsfeld Under the Bus"

The Secretary of Defense before the tire tracksIn From the Cold has the best assessment of the leave-taking of Donald Rumsfeld from the Department of Defense: President Bush and his advisers threw Rummy under the bus.

A succinct explanation for a dishonorable act. And the most dishonorable aspect is its timing. Want to shift the blame for the mistakes, mis-steps, and blunders for the second term of this administration? Why, then, choose the third most reviled member of the group. The easiest target, the scapegoated focus of pacifist hate: Donald Rumsfeld.

Perhaps it was past time for Mr. Rumsfeld to take his leave. Certainly the turncoat, disloyal General staff were loud in their disapproval. No mention of their own mistakes, of course, or how angry they were that Rumsfeld had to rebuild from the mess Clinton left in his anti-military wake. Where were they when Clinton was derelict? Where were the talking military heads then? Hunkered down and waiting for safer times, that’s where.

If the Secretary of Defense needed to leave, it should never have happened the day after an election in which the Republicans were defeated. How lick-spittle can you get, Mr. Bush? If you ever had a sense of timing - and some have complained of this deficit - it surely wasn’t on display in this jettisoning of one of your most loyal players. Would you mind describing again to us your valuation of loyalty, sir?

Spook 86 put it this way:

Despite yesterday’s Democratic victory, and demands for a “new course” in Iraq, I am disappointed by today’s announcement, or perhaps more correctly, the timing of the move. Don Rumsfeld has been a loyal administration soldier for almost six years, trying to manage both the War on Terror and the transformation of the U.S. military, Herculean tasks that would be difficult under any circumstances. Attempting to do them simultaneously is unprecedented in our military history.

And I cannot over-emphasize the difficulty of those tasks. Clearly, there are problems in Iraq, and those difficulties ultimately led to Mr. Rumsfeld’s departure. But there have also been successes in the War on Terror, namely the liberation of more than 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, and untold victories that we may never know of. Such victories are accomplished by a special forces team that takes out a high-value target in the back alleys of Baghdad, or an NSA analyst who identifies—and prevents—a money transfer to an Al Qaida cell preparing an attack in the Middle East, or here in our homeland. Prevailing in these small and seemingly unrelated events is how the War on Terror will eventually be won, and Mr. Rumsfeld deserves some of the credit for those successes.

Mr. Rumsfeld deserves some of the credit for those successes. Marshaling our forces to fight this war was an exceptionally difficult job, and Rumsfeld should be commended for re-orienting our military to fight a long war against Islamofacism.

...Defense Secretaries fight wars with military forces that are largely shaped, trained and equipped by the predecessors. Today, we have an Army with only 37 active duty combat brigades, a result of cutbacks endorsed by Bill Cohen, William Perry, Les Aspin and even Dick Cheney. Ditto for the military brass that warned we would need 350,000 troops to secure Iraq. They offered those warnings with the full knowledge that troop cuts they had previously supported—or failed to prevent—would make such force levels an impossibility. Yet, critics who assailed Rumsfeld for “insufficient” force levels in Iraq conveniently ignore the fact that our current combat structure was heavily influenced by decisions made a decade ago—or longer.
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Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will not get the assessment he deserves until all the players currently on the field are long gone. And it may prove to be one of the larger, and more dishonorable blunders in a period full of them. I sadly concur with Spook 86:

As for the timing of today’s announcement, it smacks of a White House in full panic mode, anxious to court favor with the new Democratic majority. It’s a fool’s errand, as Mr. Bush and his advisors will soon discover. Throwing Rumsfeld under the bus won’t produce a sudden “new course in Iraq” (unless, of course, you’re talking about a cut-and-run strategy).

So that’s what we will prepare for, folks: once more the Dems, the dishonorable, will cut and run. They will leave other people to die because of their own lack of courage and foresight. It’s what they know how to do. After all, what is worth dying for? What is worth risking our creature comforts for? Not much, if you take them at their word.

I wonder what the Vietnamese boat people who made it to this country are thinking tonight? I wonder if they feel a special anguish for the coming fate of the Iraqis once Nancy Pelosi is in charge and President Bush is letting her take the lead in the headlong rush out of the Vietnam-Iraq (same thing) quagmire created by the elite MSM and the hatred of the left for anything valiant.

God help Iraq. God help us all.

Now prepare yourselves for the coming impeachment proceedings and the coronation of President Pelosi.

Our only hope is that Hillary, with all her connections and cunning will never, ever let this come to pass. Read her lips: “over my dead body.” And may the better woman prevail.

If you want your intuitions about what is to come to be validated, click the link and scroll down for Spook’s assessment of Mr. Gates, the replacement for Secretary Rumsfeld. The perfect, colorless and transparently invisible replacement. Because at this point, what does it matter? All the administration wants is a cipher, someone who can kowtow to the Democrats. Well, they hunted high and low, and sure enough, they found one.

For an excellent assessment of the campaign and election, read Spook’s previous post, “Lessons Learned.” Reviewing the issues as though they were part of a military after-action report on what went wrong, Spook leads us through each point in the mess that ended on Election Night, 2008.

And he leaves us with Churchill’s admonition: In Victory, Be magnanimous, in Defeat, Defiant!

So…in keeping with Prime Minister Churchill’s advice, I say, “up your nose with a rubber hose, Pelosi. May you have every bit of the success you deserve.”


Douglas V. Gibbs said...

we've gone through Democratic takeovers before and survived, we'll survive this one. Politics are cyclictic. It won't take long for the Dems to shoot themselves in the foot and expose themselves.

Snouck said...

Rumsfeld is not wise. If he went to war with a force that was too small due to decisions taken before his time, than he still choose the wrong targets. A good warlord fights with the force he really has.

Rumsfeld has chosen the wrong targets. He targeted two nation states in the Middle East in reaction to an attack by a transnational network and a religion. Most damningly, 5 years after 9-11 he still does not call the enemy by it's real name: Islam, but obfuscates with "terrorist" or "Islamofascism".

How can you fight the enemy, if you don't want to know who he is?

How can you call these people wise?

Anyway this election is devastating news.



Kathy K said...

Hmm. I think Mudville Gazette has a good point here.

"... But what that translates to is hearings - probably hearings ad nauseum, and doubtless with multiple planned appearances from one Donald Rumsfeld. My guess - and I state this with sincerity - is that barring appointment of a Special Assistant to the Secretary for Listening to the Tough Questions, Mr Rumsfeld's ability to run the Defense Department would effectively come to a close in late January, 2007.

He may still be spending that time at the show trials, of course - he himself may in fact become the unpaid Special Assistant to the Secretary for Listening to the Tough Questions. But now it won't compromise his ability to lead a military in time of war."

linearthinker said...

This was one of the first shocks greeting me when I started my post election day. Anger and frustration and bewilderment best describe. I can't disagree with Dymphna's assessment. But this had to have been a planned contingency in the event of a catastrophe. Rumsfeld deserves better, and the timing stinks. But he was doomed by the election results. I sense a deep loyalty to each other between Bush and Rumsfeld. They've stood together thru too much for too long. This is politics and national policy trumping friendship. A drawn out democrat and media feeding frenzy and orgy of Bush bashing has been averted. I suspect once the agreements had been reached on the contingency plan, and the only question remaining was the timing, that Rumsfeld himself set the date and time, possibly to the dismay of the White House flacks who natter about public appearances. That seems to fit the style of a man I've come to respect greatly.

Nate said...

I think Rumsfeld needed to go in the immediate wake of Abu Ghraib, not because it was his fault, but because his military command had been dishonored, and act of dishonor require more than just forgiveness to be made right.

Furthermore, the longer Rumsfeld was in office, the more he needed to leave. This is only because he had created so many enemies--whether by threatening to fire various 4-star generals for giving their professional military opinion on future operations to congress (which is their obligation). He had enemies in congress, and even within the administration.

Another aspect is his abuse of the national security offices. His actions pretty much rendered the entire national security apparatus moot: Marine Colonels assigned to work at the National Security Council were sent to the Pentagon to 'steal' information that should have been made to the NSC. Colonels are not there to put their career on the line to steal documents. The State Department, which had been the lead-agency throughout the 90s on post-conflict planning, peacekeeping, etc, has been emasculated from its duties. And don't accuse the State Department of being bunch of treasonous folks either--there are good professionals working there too, especially in the State Department peacekeeping and planning organs.

Dymphna-I'm a huge fan of almost all of your writings. But calling the 'General Staff' turncoats is is quite a charge. Firstly, the United States does not have a General staff. Secondly-you're calling them treasonous--there is no such evidence to support this. Not only that, but the officers of the military (I'm a Marine Officer) have 2 moral and ethical obligations:

1) To the Constitution--this means to follow orders-yes. But it also means that when questioned by the congress, you give an honest military assessment--that's what being a military professional is.

2) The other obligation is to the well-being of the armed forces--meaning you realize the place the armed forces have in society, and you protect that status. It means removing bad officers from service (not administratively demoting them, like for Brigadier General Janice Karpinski). It means when the military is not properaly configured for two counterinsurgency fights in nations of 25 million people, that you say so. That's not being turncoat. That's doing your duty.

Rumsfeld deserves credit for much of what's going on in the Long War. Many of his ideas have proven prescient and valuable. He has been probably the most powerful SecDef in history, and such a personality is easy to dislike just because of his sheer power. I think Rumsfeld is a man who worked sincerely--he tried every day to do the very best he could in his office.

The timing could have been better--he should have been fired a month ago, not post-election. In this, I agree with you, Dymphna.

But to stoop to call our generals 'turncoats'--a term reserved for Benedict Arnold--is wrong.

Wally Ballou said...

I think calling the President "lickspittle" was a little extreme, too. let's all take some deep breaths.

(The following is not specifically directed at Dymphna)

This election would be a good opportunity for Republicans and their supporters to prove they are not like Democrats, after all. In other words: respect the results. Don't call for the overthrow of the political system because your side didn't win. Don't winge about how unfair it all is. Don't wish for disasters and failures for the nation lest any successes might accrue to the benefit of the other side.

Sure, you believed the result was a matter of survival; so did the folks on the other side who think non-action on Kyoto is "destroying the planet". But if we can't find common ground somewhere, we're going to look like Iraq in another few years. Most of the new dems are relatively moderate, unlike their leadership. Even though the zanies are in the ascendancy right now, there is no broad "progressive" consensus in the country. That is our biggest asset going forward.

There is also no broad (or even semi-broad) consensus for a global "War against Islam". Deal with it.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.

enuff said...

Take at good look at all the divergent views of our punditry as to the cause of the election results. They span about every conceivable idea from a-to zed but look at which one stands-out not as the most but in the least, that single most publicized event over the past almost 4 years - day-in, day-out, 24/7, 365(barring leap-years) - the War. That, in my estimation, is the single clearest example of Occam’s Razor or principle and/or denial that you are ever to likely witness. Add to that the first act of the President, the dismissal of Rumsfeld and don’t tell me this election wasn’t about the War or the policies of our Admin. Yet that is what everyone is so casually dismissing? The UN applauds the results, the Euro’s applaud the results and the Islamofascist’s are telling us to change our Mid-East policies and get out! They plan on killing us sometime, just not now. This election wasn’t about the war? Does anyone think the UN or Euro’s care that some pervert was or wasn’t shagging some gopher in DC? Do you really think they care about our corrupt politician‘s, hello?

Bush is trying to do one thing and one thing alone, hold the nation together enough that when the US gets whacked next time around we’ve some small semblance of unity(and God forbid it happen on his watch). The War on Terror has been put on hold! Kicked down the road! That’s it. Fini, for this bout. Anyone who believes that Pelosi and Co. won’t have us in full retreat by next spring is crazy. Hell, I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if Bush and Chaney aren’t ‘bye-bye’ by summer and Pelosi’s governing on-high - despite the current made for popular consumption bs.

Oh we’ll get whacked again(most likely after Bush is out and the Mullah's are nuclear) and we’d damned well better hope we’ve a Rumsfeld or some ‘white knight’ sitting on the sidelines, warming a bench. As it stands our Joint Chief’s, their staff, are still fighting yesterdays war’s using yesterday’s methods; what little we’ve learned and put into effect on fighting Revolutionary, 4th generation or whatever today’s buzzword is used for its form, is due primarily one man alone - Donald Rumsfeld.

And if things weren't bad enough, yesterday the Poles decided to 'Abandon Ship' stating Powell had lied to them about the intelligence supplied on Iraq. Why's that, you think? Foley? We're spending too much money?

Or maybe, just maybe, they see the sharks a'circling and smell that sweet, iron tang of blood; new guard and all?

pacific_waters said...

Rumsfeld was instrumental in force restructuring but his emphasis on lean and mean reduced our ability to wage war on 2 fronts. The inability to articulate a clear policy for post war rebuilding was a major mistake. Tactically and strategically he lack of sufficient forces to enable clearing weapons caches was a major mistake. What I abhor is the message that was sent by his resignation. It was a clear surrender to politics. Rumsfeld was a sacrificial lamb. Our enemies will see it as weakness and our euro "friends" won't care.

Baillie said...

There's never anything so bad that it can't get worse. :\

James Higham said...

Many of the 'thinkers' over here have said in the last days that Rummy was not so bad but that the Bush admin were awful. These are right-wingers I'm talking about. Strange because it was not their tune earlier.

eatyourbeans said...

I interpret it that Bush will do anything to prevent the congress from doing what they did back in '74(?) to South Vietnam, even to the point of sucking up to the loathsome Pelosi etc. Sacrificing Rummy was to avoid a replay of the last 'chopper out of Saigon.
As our dems and their friends in the press are quite proud of that moment, I don't think Bush's gesture will achieve its purpose.
Poor Bush, poor Rummy, poor Iraq. Poor us.

OMMAG said...

Te proposition that the Bush Administration threw Rumsfeld is pure garbage!
Sacrificial Lamb? A pathetic attempt to paint him as a weakling!

The political landscape determines how effective a civil position can be and Rumsfeld's level of performance could not be sustained under the inevitable barrage of complaints and enquiries that will be coming from the new congress.
Why would a guy like Rumsfeld stick around to perform in that circus?

All he's doing is continuing to make the perfect sense that is his modus operandi!

Dymphna said...

Smitten eagle:

You make two points I wish to address:

(1) But calling the 'General Staff' turncoats is is quite a charge. Firstly, the United States does not have a General staff. Secondly-you're calling them treasonous--there is no such evidence to support this.

You're right. I used the wrong nomenclature here. I was referring to the group of retired generals who joined forces and publicly excoriated this administration in a time of war. I thought it was disgraceful then, and I still do. Many in The Building claim to hate Rumsfeld and all he stands for, but how many actually quit on principle? How many of those who actively tried to undermine him were willing to relinquish the perks and privileges that go with their senior rank in the name of what they percieved to be a higher good? Was there an exodus of principled soldiers? If so, I missed it.

They proved John Boyd's point beautifully: there comes a time in a military officer's career where he can decide to DO something, or he can decide to BE somebody and let himself be groomed for high command.

A case in point: the media are killing us in this war. They are determined to make us lose. I present as one small piece of evidence James Q. Wilson's article,The Press at War.

He presents damning evidence of their skewed and negative view of this war, of war in general, and of America's need to defend itelf.

We have a potential couterbalance to that malign effect in our senior officers. They ought to be out in force in American communities, telling the *real* story about what is going on outside the Green Zone in Iraq. And despite commands from their superiors to do just that, they dig in their heels and hunker down in The Building. Such behavior is not honorable and it flies in the face of America's interests in a time of war. OTOH, keeping a low profile gurantees their successful transition to civilian sinecures once their time is up.

I ask you, where are the generals and admrials who will speak up for the men who are serving our country while they are safe here, stateside? Why did it take the local paper near McGill TWO years to get a ride-along interview with General Abizaid?? Is this the way to get the story out?

At the very least, if they are disinclined to speak themselves, they could organize tours of military vets from Iraq who would be proud to speak of their experience. And people would come to listen. What happened to those tours -- like the ones we had in WWII?

I may be using the wrong terms, but what those retired generals did was, at best, harmful to our troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. I'll bet if you took a poll of the men on the line during that media frenzy some months back (was it last year?) you'd have a consensus of disgust at what they did. But, yeah, "treasonous" was over the line. How about "actively aiding the enemy by damaging our efforts to conduct the war?" That's what they did.

(2) Your second point about the State Department.

You say:The State Department, which had been the lead-agency throughout the 90s on post-conflict planning, peacekeeping, etc, has been emasculated from its duties.

Here we part company. "Peacekeeping" is a joke. You don't keep peace when, in 1993, people who hate you fail to blow up the Towers. You don't keep peace with those who maimed the Cole.

With our current enemy, stateless death-dealers who are bent on the destruction of the West, a 19th century institution, which is what the state dept has always been, is of little use. During the Cold War, perhaps it had its uses. But in this era of transnational entities -- The EU, the UN, and the Islamists -- of what use is a STATE Department in a world which wants to erase the very notion of the sovereign state??


I cannot speak to the internecine power plays you mention that go on among the various bureaucracies in D.C. They are as byzantine as anything that has gone before them. And with the advent of the "wall" beteeen the CIA and FBI, the takeover of military functions by the judiciary, whatever infighting went on is merely sideshow to the real issue: the denigration, emasculation, and marginalization of our military arm. This effort is co-ordinated in part by the State Department. The media and the courts are doing the rest.

My anger at the Bush administration is not their jettisoning of Rumsfeld. It is the timing. As you say, he could have been drop-kicked after the Abu Ghraib mess. But imagine the aftermath in the press. They would never have let go and it would have further undermined the Defense Dept. He could more easily have moved on in the transition after the second election. This would have been less contentious and the media damage could have been contained.

My other problem with this is who Bush chose as R's successor. He will be eaten alive by The Building, while, as Bellicose Woman points out, Rummy spends the next two years on the Hill as every committee with even the slightest connection to the military lines up to take their shots at him. And if the Dems win again in 2008, it will no doubt continue. What a waste of our bloated, self-righteous and imperial prima donnas in Congress.

And I mean on both sides of the aisle, though I don't think the 'pubs have anyone who can come close to the Senators Kennedy, Biden, and Byrd.

And I mean both Houses, full of pork-barreling pols out to protect their reapective incumbencies.

Eventually this bloated, corrupt mess will have to explode. I hope I'm around to see it.

Nate said...

Dymphna-Indeed--there have not been enough generals retiring on principle. There have been plenty of generals "thrown under the bus", to use your verbage. Shinseki was definately among them.

There are others though--Gen Anthony Zinni, former CentCom commander. He came out opposed to the Iraq war before its outset because the American military was unready for such a fight. His CentCom plans were gleefully shredded when Iraq was placed on the front burner for invasion. LtGen Mike DeLong-he was the top Joint Chiefs planning officer. He has gone on the record of regretting he did not step down when the Iraq planning began.

In terms of active generals who seem to support the war and are finding ways to fix the way the Pentagon fights--look at LtGen Mattis--current I Marine Expeditionary Force commander, or LtGen Petreus, USA, who jointly worked on doing the first comprehensive counterinsurgency doctrine rewrite in many years.

These are some. I agree with you, Dymphna, that there are not enough. As you said, and the late John Boyd said before you, we have a choice--To Be or To Do. Too many choose to Be and not Do. The military does not inculcate Ethics enough: The only comprehensive ethical document we have is the Code of Conduct, which only regulates behavior of captured American fighters, which is a small realm of behavior. We need something more comphrehensive.

Next Counterpoint: The State Dept. The State Dept was not the repository of muscle when it comes to post-conflict operations. They were a repository of brainpower, however. They were the doctrinal lead agency when it comes to this sort of thing. Rumsfeld managed to wrestle this Lead Agency status to the Pentagon, which promptly did nothing with it--hence the lack of real post-war planning for Iraq. Had post-conflict planning actually been done by the Pentagon, or had State actually been in charge for post-conflict ops, and had Shinseki's recommendations been followed, it is unlikely the insurgency would have grown as it has. This is the chief failure in Iraq.

Indeed--the Nation-State is a product of Westphalia and 19th century nationalism. We are fighting a 4GW conflict, and the capabilities of the state and the requirements of 4GW are not in balance. It will require more than a Nation-State to win this war, just as it will take more than Foggy Bottom or the resources of the Potomac Puzzle Palace.

In a People's War (as Clausewitz would call this fight), against the established western order, we need to make this much more of a People's Fight. This means pumping up our morale by:

1) Good citizenship--not just voting, but knowing our history and heroes, and understanding the proper place of western civilization and America in the world, and, consequently, build a willingness to defend those things into our (young) people.

2) Retooling our war-making apparatus: Instead of worrying of fighting China, we need to worry about fighting Islamic extremism. This means lots of light infantry to deal face to face with people. It means using money as a supporting arm, as bribes are often the only way to get things done in corrupt political cultures. It means instead of focusing on the artillery Call for Fire, we instead focus on the Call to Prayer--not bombs, but people. Get the people on our side, and we won't have to worry as much about the bombs. It means proper information campaigns--not the hamfisted media policy of the Pentagon that is effectively limiting the number of embedded troops to only a handful. It means openness and transperency of military operations, when able.

3) And for conservatism--we need to get back to our roots of what America is, and conserve that. That means we accept legal immigrants only. We fight terrorism abroad and at home, and at the same time protect our privacy rights. Low taxes for economic growth, etc...

That's how we retool this fight--it's certainly more about the local school board than it is the Pentagon or Foggy Bottom, at least in the long term.

Thanks, Dymphna, for your posts. They are always a pleasure to read.


sharinlite said...

The President made the right choice at the right time. Why put Donald Rumsfeld in the Uber Left sights? Better he go now and guess what, the Demos are frantically trying to figure out what to do! They have already offered assurances to the Iraqi government that we are going to "cut and run". What do you suppose their base will think about that.

Papa Ray said...

smitteneagle: "That's how we retool this fight--it's certainly more about the local school board than it is the Pentagon or Foggy Bottom, at least in the long term."

Echos of my thoughts and actions.

I have been involved in my community, my county, my state activities on and off (mostly on) for many, many years. Sometimes so much as to cause consternation and objection.

Which I invite and enjoy, because there is where minds and beliefs are changed.

If a few good men in a war can make the difference, it can be said the same for us at home. Us ol' war dogs can still fight, although in a different theater.

Right now, in "Someplace, America", a person is standing up, telling people why he believes something and proving to them that he is right.

Lets make sure that continues, and that the people of the right are there changing minds.

It's hard duty, no frills, no rewards and the personal abuse is terrible, but unless it's done...

Our Republic will perish.

Papa Ray
P.S. Rummy made this last decision and picked the date. Mark my words and read his book in a few years.

Dymphna said...

Reader John tried to comment on this last night and couldn't get Blooger to work. I offered to post it for him.




If I ever in my life met a mot juste, it was your use of "dishonorable" in this connection. It would seem that although Bush grew up in Texas, some aspects of the Southron culture didn't take. He's in trouble, so he scapegoats one of his finest supporters? That qualifies as "realism" of the vilest sort. A CIA hack like Gates is more of the same, just like the Baker-Hamilton Commission that he now sees fit to compliment. Gah!

Looks like we are really in for it. Ever since Vietnam, we've been going out
of our way to prove to the Third World that being a friend of the United States is far more dangerous than being an enemy. In the immediate future, it will be loyal Iraqis, abandoned by us, who will get their throats cut. But our turn is coming. If he grovels to appease Nancy of all people, how will he deal with Iran and Syria? Can you hear the scornful laughter of the Baathist diehards in Iraq? They can see the dark at the end of the tunnel. It's coming fast.

Paradox: at 82, I all of a sudden have a reason to take care of myself. I want to drain every last drop of this bitter cup.

John-- It must be hard at your age to watch things go to hell in a handbasket. But then you were around for several other handbaskets so you have a wider view. Maybe it's merely part of a larger process...