Serious About Rummy

Bush Administration, Condi Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Iraq War

Via True Blue Liberal — the Army Times conducted one of those online, not-scientifically-valid polls asking readers this question:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has come under fire in recent weeks from a variety of retired generals, who say he should resign for his performance in managing the war in Iraq. Do you think the U.S. war effort is grounds for Secretary Rumsfeld to resign?

That’s a carefully worded question; note it doesn’t say that Rummy’s performance was bad or hint that the war effort is not going well. Anyway, the results as of this writing (4,339 total votes) are yes, 63.47 %; no, 32.96 %; and no opinion, 3.57 %.

These results don’t prove anything. I have no doubt a scientifically conducted poll would have different results. Still, it suggests some Army Times readers, not known to be loony leftie peaceniks, are really pissed off at Rummy.

Some mid-level officers interviewed last week by New York Times reporters Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt sounded pissed at both Rummy and the generals who didn’t speak out about him until after they retired.

The discussions often flare with anger, particularly among many midlevel officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and face the prospect of additional tours of duty.

“This is about the moral bankruptcy of general officers who lived through the Vietnam era yet refused to advise our civilian leadership properly,” said one Army major in the Special Forces who has served two combat tours. “I can only hope that my generation does better someday.”

An Army major who is an intelligence specialist said: “The history I will take away from this is that the current crop of generals failed to stand up and say, ‘We cannot do this mission.’ They confused the cultural can-do attitude with their responsibilities as leaders to delay the start of the war until we had an adequate force. I think the backlash against the general officers will be seen in the resignation of officers” who might otherwise have stayed in uniform for more years.

In defense of the generals, some of them said they did try to explain reality to the Pentagon, but the exercise proved as fruitful as explaining verb conjugation to a tree stump.

Mo Dowd (via True Blue Liberal) writes of Rummy’s and Condi’s little visit to Baghdad this week:

The former “Matinee Idol,” as W. liked to call him, is now a figure of absurdity, clinging to his job only because some retired generals turned him into a new front on the war on terror. On his rare, brief visit to Baghdad, he was afraid to go outside Fortress Green Zone, even though he yammers on conservative talk shows about how progress is being made, and how the press never reports good news out of Iraq.

If the news is so good, why wasn’t Rummy gallivanting at the local mall, walking around rather than hiding out in the U.S. base known as Camp Victory? (What are they going to call it, one reporter joked, Camp Defeat?)

Very often when us loony leftie peaceniks criticize the war, the righties spin it as a slam on our troops. It’s as if they absolutely cannot fathom that fault may lie with leadership and planning rather than execution. And, of course, the ultimate responsibility for the debacle in Iraq lies with the bleepheads who made the decision to invade for no good bleeping reason.

But let’s brush that aside for the moment.

According to a Virginia businessman named Joseph Robert, Jr., who has been in Iraq, the troops are still dedicated to the mission; it’s everyone else who has screwed the pooch. Robert writes in today’s Washington Post:

First, U.S. forces in Iraq remain focused on their mission. Talking with soldiers and Marines over dinner in their mess halls, it’s easy to see why reenlistment rates among U.S. troops in Iraq are the highest in the military. These men and women understand their mission and believe they are making a difference. Like my son, Joe III, after he returned from a tough mission in Fallujah, the Marines I met said they would be happy to return to Iraq because they believe what they’re doing is important.

However,

… dangerous failures in Iraq’s economic reconstruction are undermining progress on the security and political fronts. …

… This strategic failure is a direct result of something else I observed: Only one element of the U.S. government — the military — seems to be treating Iraq as “the vital national interest” that President Bush declares it to be. Across Iraq, military personnel are heroically managing local reconstruction and development projects for which they lack the proper training or tools. Meanwhile, back in the Green Zone, hundreds of civilian positions — from the departments of State, Justice, Commerce and Agriculture — go unfilled.

U.S. commanders expressed frustration that dozens of Justice Department billets sit empty despite Iraq’s urgent need for help in developing a functioning judicial system. American troops like my son describe risking their lives to arrest suspected insurgents, testifying in Iraqi courts and then watching in frustration as the offenders are tossed back on the streets. In government, as in business, refusing to devote the resources and personnel to a strategic priority is a recipe for disaster.

This reminds me of something George Packer said on The Daily Show awhile back (link to video on this page). Parker spoke of many individuals in Iraq, both Iraqi and American,

Packer: … really pouring their hearts into this project, and meanwhile back in Washington decisions being made on the fly, or not being made at all, being made against all expert advice as if it almost didn’t matter. …

… there was a whole tide of young Republican operatives coming over to staff the occupation, people who had never lived abroad, certainly had no experience in the Middle East, there were maybe three Arabic speakers in the whole coalition provisional authority in the first few few months …

Stewart: You say the more you know about Iraq the more you’d be punished, it seems.

Packer: Yes. It’s a law of the occupation that the more you know the less influence you have, and as you go higher and higher in the Administration, knowledge decreases until at the very top …

… they were unbelievably reckless, and I think it’s going to take time for historians to explain how they could have rolled the dice in such a risky way and not taken it more seriously. Over and over again that’s the thing that I come back to. They didn’t take it very seriously.

As I wrote here, the Bushies seem congenitally incapable of taking anything seriously. Unless it’s a political threat, of course.

Philip Gold writes in today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer that “Too few are carrying the burden of war.” He discusses a book written by Dr. Ron Glasser titled Wounded: Vietnam to Iraq. Dr. Glasser had been an Army doctor stationed in Japan during the Vietnam war.

When the Iraq war started to sour, Glasser, now a prominent Minneapolis pediatric nephrologist, noticed that new kinds of wounded were coming back. Thanks to improved body armor and lack of enemy artillery and mortars, there were fewer traditional gunshot and fragmentation wounds. But because of the wide use of improvised explosive devices such as suicide bombs, there were far more serious wounds to limbs and closed head injuries. Gone was the “Million Dollar Wound” that got you honorably home but still reasonably intact. Now the military was doing amputations at a rate unknown since the Civil War and dealing with head injuries that could only be described as “polytrauma.” …

… “Wounded” tells it to the American people like it is and warns that these new wounded are going to require expensive lifetime care from a Department of Veterans Affairs that will be struggling with Vietnam vets for the next three decades.

Toward the end, “Wounded” shifts from medicine to note who’s not coming home shattered in body and spirit: America’s more privileged sons and daughters.

Glasser also wrote about the sounded of Iraq in a July 2005 Harper’s Magazine article. Glasser writes that the Bushies aren’t taking the Iraq wounded seriously, either.

“Based on what we should be doing, the VA is simply underfunded,” former Georgia senator Max Cleland, a triple amputee from the war in Vietnam and head of the Veterans Administration under President Carter, told me. “The budgetary constraints put into place by this administration’s tax cuts have proved a disaster for the whole system. The VA can’t handle what they have to do now; how are they going to handle the flood of physical and emotional casualties, many of whom will be the responsibility of the VA for the rest of their lives?”

Ultimately, if the Bush Administration continues its refusal to accept the realities of this conflict, the most enduring images of the Iraq war will be the sight of legless and addled beggars on our street corners holding cardboard signs that read: IRAQ VET. HUNGRY AND HOMELESS. PLEASE HELP.

See also “Coming Home from War on the Cheap” by Judith Coburn.

In other news, Drew Brown reports for Knight Ridder that the cost of the war is skyrocketing. Ewen MacAskill reports for the Guardian that the “US admits Iraq could become haven for terror.”

And the righties complain the press isn’t reporting the good news in Iraq. Such a shame.

But about Rummy? You know we’re living in strange times when something written by William S. Lind, Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation, shows up in the hyper-leftie online mag Counterpunch.

Rumsfeld’s defenders argue that some of his critics are dinosaurs who resent “Transformation” because it disrupts business as usual, they have a point. As anyone who has dealt with the higher ranks of the U.S. military knows, they put the La Brea tar pits in the shade as a dinosaur graveyard. …

But here too the story is not so simple. While Rumsfeldian “Transformation” represents change, it represents change in the wrong direction. Instead of attempting to move from the Second Generation to the Third (much less the Fourth), Transformation retains the Second Generation’s conception of war as putting firepower on targets while trying to replace people with technology. Its summa is the Death Star, where men and women in spiffy uniforms sit in air-conditioned comfort zapping enemies like bugs. It is a vision of future war that appeals to technocrats and lines industry pockets, but has no connection to reality. The combination of this vision of war with an equally unrealistic vision of strategic objectives has given us the defeat in Iraq. Again, Rumsfeld lies at the heart of both.

Lind believes that Rummy’s is the only head that should roll. But seems to me that if the President were serious about the war in Iraq, Rummy’s head would have rolled a long time ago.

Liz Sidoti reports for the Associated Press that many Senate Republicans would like Rummy to be gone, but are resigned to the fact the the President wants him to stay.

And why does the President want Rummy to stay? Because the President can’t admit he made a mistake, that’s why. It’s all about Dear Leader and his glorious ego.

As of this morning, 2398 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq.

Update: Flaming idiot rightie Mark Noonan of Blogs for Bush linked to the Joseph Robert, Jr., article I link to and quote above, and wrote, “Warning: No Liberal Should Read This! It is positive news about Iraq, and we wouldn’t want to spoil the nice, little anti-Bush fantasy land the liberals live in…”

How stupid are these people?

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Steve from Canuckistan  •  Apr 29, 2006 @10:20 am

    Check out this article in this morning’s Globe and Mail:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060428.wxterror29/BNStory/International/home

    Now that we have a new right-wing wannabe government in Canada, the US state department feels empowered to blame it all on Canada. I’ve submitted the following comment to the Globe on this article (as yet unpublished).

    “The USA’s prosecution of the so called GWOT has been incompetent and inept. They haven’t had another 911-style attack more out of sheer luck than anything they’ve done to address their own vulnerabilities (i.e. port and chemical plant security, the illegal and dirty war in Iraq started and prosecuted on lies, etc). These miscreants in the USA have been aided and abetted by a pliable and unquestioning US media that’s more interested in smears and lies than reporting the facts. This is the same American government that did nothing while the “system was blinking red” in August 2001 and afterward tried to spread lies among their own people to make them think that the 19 hijackers entered the USA through Canada. They seized an innocent Canadian off a jet in New York and sent him away to be tortured and somehow that is supposed to be Canada’s fault. Jesus Mercy! These lying a-holes know no bounds of decency. The frightening thing is it makes one wonder if the harper administration is silently orchestrating these smears against Canada so that poodle harper gets to please his master bush by appearing to address these phony issues and blame it all on the evil “libruls”. Hah! What a bunch of dingbats!”

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 29, 2006 @10:50 am

    Dear Leader’s the Decider. He decides. And he’s decided. His decision on Iraq? “Whatever… Just stay the course… Whatever…”
    Of course, to the True Believers of Dear Leader, those of us who predicted this ungodly mess was going to happen a home and overseas are the ones at fault. We didn’t march along to his drums of war. We tried to say that the tax cuts would endanger the lives of those less well off. But no… You wanted your pieces of silver. How does it feel to rub those coins in your soft, pudgy white hands now? Any shame rubbing off?
    Well I’ve had it!
    Every Republican in the country should be made to pay for this man-boy wanna-be Kings mistakes.
    They should be made to pay for foisting this arrogant man-child on the rest of us as a great leader.
    They should be made to pay for getting him “elected” and “re-elected (as if either of those ever happened, but let’s say theyt did just for the sake of argument).
    They should be made to pay for supporting his disasterous policies at home and abroad.
    If you are a registered Republican, you should be held accountable. Remember that word? ACCOUNTABLE!!! You threw that word around in 2000. What happened to “accountability” since then?
    And every Democrat who supported this hapless, evil stooge should also pitch in. You’re not blameless either. YOu need to be held accountable, too.
    When (or should I say, if) this “Reign of Error” ever ends, you all need to dig deep into your f*#$ing tax cuts and pay off the rest of the county’s debt. Then you can start to pay for rebuilding poor New O’rleans.
    I don’t know how you pay the poor bastards who bought your line of BS and lost their sons, daughters, or their own lives, limbs and minds. You really need to think hard. How do you pay that off? How do you pay for the dead Iraqi’s who did us no harm?
    HOW? How do you sleep at night with all of this? I know I can’t, and I’ve been against King George since before he became the Great Decider.
    Here’s your legacy: Death. Destruction. Poverty.
    Unfortunately, it America’s legacy now, too. Congratulations on a job well done, Banana Republicans. You’ve done what no enemy could ever do. You’ve destroyed our once great country. Do you know what the rest of the world says? “Shame!” Shame on you! Shame on me! Shame on all of us! There’s not enough shame to go around.
    SHAME… shame… shame…

  3. justme  •  Apr 29, 2006 @1:45 pm

    wow C U N D gulag,, WELL SAID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Everytime I am out and see a bush sticker on the car I feel like I should demand they write a check to cover their share of the nations debt, which is about 35k a person now….I feel like I need to ask them”Don’t you see what you’ve done?”…I feel like I should scream “There they are,, they are the ones who have done this to America!!!”….mind you I don’t wish those folks any harm,,,I just want some accountibility….I think I want to hear them say “I am sorry” or that they”made a mistake” or that they had no idea any of this would happen….

    I LOVE the idea of public shunning…EVERY bush supporter should be ashamed and I would like to see them start acting that way.IMHO the blood of everyone who died on 911, every innocent who has died in Iraq, and NO, is on their hands….I would sure like to see some sorrow from them for it.Instead I see a bunch of rabid humans, looking for who they can kill next.Who knew in a civilized world HUMAN BEINGS could get so much joy from killing? As CU said,, Shame!

    The biggest problem I have with it all is the righties, who think they believe in something, and they are making some grand stand are just being scammed…it’s all for nothing but the profit of big oil and big business…it’s not about some grand plan for freedom and a more Godly world… the powers that be don’t give a shit about any of that..their bottom line is profit.They tell righties it is their right as Americans to drive hummers and use up as much oil as they can… they threw in big tax cuts for those buying huge gas sucking machines and wrapped it in the flag as people rushed out to be the most patriotic on the block,, the bigger the car: the more American you are… then the big oil men in power and those with the oil raise the prices , rake in the big bucks and split the take, all the while laughing at the dumb sheeple who bought into the big lie wrapped in the flag, geez,,talk about screwing the pooch.And this is just an example of how every single issue has been since bush became resident(no typo there,, i meant to say resident)..They wrap issues in God, around a flag,fear,, whatever it takes … it is like watching someone so interested in a small shiney object they don’t see their wallet being stolen…

    Then we all suffer for the foolishness of those who I can only assume must hate America…the whole situation is way beyond sad and I can’t imagine what the future will be for our vets or ourselves for that matter.

    Perhaps it is time that we all went local and found who gave to bush in 2000 and 2004 and sent them a letter asking them to send in checks to pay for the debt their resident has created, telling them what their support has done to this country as well as to people right in their own home town…perhaps we should put signs in front of their homes saying :Like high oil prices? The person in this house helped bring them to you,, honk if you don’t like it….bush seems to hold no account for his actions,perhaps it is time to look to those who put him there and demand answers for our countries sake.

  4. emel  •  Apr 29, 2006 @2:30 pm

    I blame Colin Powell the most, since he is a vietnam era veteran who knew better and said nothing but participated in the lies. But really what generals would have been listened to? I remember reading about Abizaid being left standing in the hall and excluded from meetings, about the snowflakes, about the political PNAC appointees who would listen to nothing but what they wanted to hear. The military is doing it’s job but no one else is.

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 29, 2006 @3:30 pm

    Coin Powell could have been another George Marshall. Instead, he turned out to be another Ollie North.
    Colin, shame…

  6. Swami  •  Apr 29, 2006 @3:35 pm

    Gee, that’s a hard one for the decider -in- chief..Does he toss Rummy overboard and appear to be caving into his critics or does he hold fast to a political liability to appear loyal and confident? Personally I hope he keeps Rummy because Rummy is the focus of the military’s disatisfaction and he represents the only avenue for the military to speak out against Bush’s incompetence…. sort of a presidental whipping boy.

    Actually Rummy should collect up his pensions and retire. he can head down here to god’s waiting room in sunny St Peterburg..we have the holocaust museum downtown and plenty of places where he can get a good lap dance to enjoy his golden years.

  7. Donna  •  Apr 29, 2006 @7:00 pm

    Since this morning, two more of our soldiers have died. Total now: 2,400.

  8. Sam  •  Apr 29, 2006 @7:47 pm

    Went to a family memorial service this morning. She was a sweet lady, an artist, political debater, community worker, Catholic. Nice eulogy.
    During the hymn, as the stirring music filled the air, I felt that hopeful sense of communion with THE GOOD in us all. Tears came. I thought, how can we actually be bombing people right now? If only we could all share this same sense of the sanctity of all life everywhere, then maybe – – – and then I realized that people like Bush and his followers are also singing their hearts out in church. They have the same feelings welling up inside of them, too. My heart gave a lurch.
    These people have set the bar in a different place than I have. Want to save human life, they say? We have to take it first, they say. And so it has been from the beginnings of human history.

  9. Swami  •  Apr 29, 2006 @9:14 pm

    http://michellemalkin.com/archives/003779.htm

    Was it Stalin who said, one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic?
    I guess the best way to deal with a death toll of 2,400 young Americans is to just see them as an abstract number and not as individuals.Empathy will only weigh you down in Bush’s war on terra. A good solider learns how to shut down the emotions as a coping mechanism.

    OK, now for my mad minute of patriotic free associations..freedoms on the march..we’ll fight them there, so we won’t have to fight them here…Make the world safe for democracy…war is mind over matter, Congress doesn’t mind and we don’t matter!..when I die,i’ll go to heaven because i’ve served my time in hell…when I kill,all I feel is the recoil of my M-16…If I had a home in hell and a farm in Iraq, i’d sell my farm and go home…when I die, bury me face down so the whole world can kiss my ass..better dead than red..kill them all and let God sort it out.. death from above, airborne!!!..put silver wings on my sons chest, make him one of America’s best…my country right or wrong…damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!..christ has died to make men holy, let us fight to make men free..they put me back in the womb..I love the smell of napalm in the morning..God bless America..we weep and we mourn..freedom isn’t free,you have to sacrifice,you have to pay he price, for your liberties…..they’re evildoers and they cut peoples heads off…What Would Rumplestiltskin Do?

  10. Sam  •  Apr 29, 2006 @11:42 pm

    I can’t believe what I just saw! Stephen Colbert doing his Bush spiel right in front of Bush at the Press Corps Dinner? Unbelievable. Colbert went after him with all the usual undercuts to the jaw. I think the Washington Press Corps got a little payback tonight for their four years of hell. That was one sour lookin’ face on our preznint.

    http://orangecounty.cox.net/cci/newsnational/national?_mode=view&_state=maximized&view=article&id=D8HA2JO07

    This article gives him one line of mention, the cowards!