Monday, December 04, 2006

Iraq: The Rumsfeld Memo

A great dinner party last night, Bush! Great food, great company, great conversation, good wine to loosen the tongue... And especially good to be in a house whose every wall and niche is occupied by provocative art works and a wonderful, pristine collection of American ceramics. It's surprising how rarely art takes this kind of prominent place in a lived environment, and alwys a real pleasure when we come upon it. This was a place, like our own, where there is something to attract the eye no matter which way you turn. Small talk, big talk, lots of stories, anecdotes, plenty of laughter around the dinner table... Just a terrific evening.

This morning's news: still the Rumsfeld memo. Aside from the duplicity it revealed--not only Rumsfeld's, but also yours, in those pre-election days when you were clearly more concerned with getting votes than with the welfare of those troops you so readily accuse others of failing to support--I was apalled by the paternalistic tone and the assumptions it suggested. "Stop rewarding bad behavior," your Rumsfeld writes simplistically. And "reward them for their good behavior." "Start 'taking our hand off the bicycle seat.'" The clear assumption: the Iraqis are a bunch of children, whose good and bad behavior warrants reward or punishment from a "Father knows best" daddy. If this reflects the depth of thinking at the top level of the Defense Department these past four years, it's hardly surprising to find ourselves in the mess we're in. This kind of shallow thought ranks up there with "Stuff happens."

Rumsfeld's "laundry list" is further evidence, too, of the absence of any serious strategic planning in your administration. To come up with this kind of off-the-cuff, back-of-the-napkin stuff bespeaks a confusion, a desperation, and cynical indifference that boggles the imagination after so many months of warfare, so many American lives sacrificed, so many Iraqi citizens slaughtered. Let's see, it says, we could try this, we could try that... And if all else fails, we could go "below the line" and consider even undesirable options. There's no real substance to this memo. It's a throwaway. What monumental arrogance and care-lessness. And this from the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

I was surprised to hear, as a kind of aside in the news this morning, of your Bolton's resignation from his United Nations post. Not by the resignation, but by the lack of interest with which it seems to have been received by the media. Perhaps there's more to come.

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4 comments:

RoseCovered Glasses said...

There are good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armements”

http://www.rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com

The Pentagon is a giant,incredibly complex establishment,budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Adminisitrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be - Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particulary if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

Answer- he can’t. Therefor he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is ablsolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen unitil it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagon instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

Carly said...

P: "From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results".

And if the talking heads are the only bulwark against the pressure, the system doesn't work.

I like you Rosecovered. I'm wondering if you are mad at the guys like me who refused, and suffered, to go to Vietnam, just because by the age of seventeen, we knew some history of the military and had a sense of what Eisenhower warned us of, DO NOT ALLOW A MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT TO GROW in the US. Yup, the general-president made an important speech of that message.

But Americans ignored it. I just hope "Rosecovered's" last two paragraphs are not putting it mildly. We're so optimistic in this country, that we ignore and downplay the realities. I'm thinking the huge mistake in Iraq will cost this country more than it understands. To think...it all began with the winning of WWII.

Peter, care to expand? Your take?

PK said...

Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all, in a great atmosphere. Rummy had to know things were going to hell in a hand basket. If Bush wanted him to stay for his own agenda, that meant Rummy having to follow that agenda. Didn't work for Powell, guess it didn't work for him either... As for Bolton, both he and Bush knew he wouldn't be approved, why stick around and make it a long drawn out affair. The media knew too, and assumed [only supposition], the American people did too, so why bother. Now the other problem is the fool he wants to put in there, that's the more to come... don't think he will be approved, been known to be wrong, but he's not the one. Good post Peter...

Carly said...

Seeing Bush

A crown, a royal tip
of a giant berg
floating around
aimlessly, sinking ships
The footage reveals
to one, astonished and amazed
"That's the face of a dictator"!
Close-up in scrutiny
a face not only revolting
but of frightening proportion
Were he a Soviet
he would be Stalin!
But an inept Stalin
an incapable Stalin
a negative clone
Parse the details
and countenance alone
and see
a pinched shape of hardened feelings
frozen into creases
of clues
to emotional neglect
by self and others
By the father
Starved of self importance
esteem, self reliance, self worth.
the glancing around
unavoidable to the camera
of mean looks in a down home coat
ex-alcoholic, a manly cheerleader
frustrated in aims
of domination.
A countenance which wants to run away
But can't. Won't
A floater. A drifter
with the determination
which lands one in a bad spot.
a contentious contender
a doer who cannot
All covered in superficial splendor
by bluster
Naked of clothes
this horrifying aspect
of puffed up self-importance
and self illusion
unforgivably conscious
swaggering before foes
Self-invention with feet of crows
styled on bits and pieces
of other not-so-greats
from the not-so-great past
All the right moves
but a face which moves
like a chimpanzee's
monkey see, monkey do
and a mind of equal
simplicity
a child of three
in a mask of honor and integrity
a mask of shame
a mask of death
From the very root of insecurity itself
Simplicimuss
determined to surmount the awareness
of its own pitiful weakness
and lack of strength
a void, a question mark
Behind steely eyes of The Weak
insufficient brain cells
in failure to connect
and make the connections
so vital to soaring
A face connected to boring
its boots in concrete
topped by this godless skull
God have mercy.