Tributes to RumsfeldRumsfeld Gets Cute At the Podium:
And Michael Ledeen writes:
I wanted him replaced two years ago, and said so. (I wanted Condi replaced too, for that matter). I thought he was a bad manager, and a poor judge of people (some of his top aides don't belong there). It took me quite a while to get to that conclusion because of his reputation as an outstanding manager, but that's what I think, and I'm sad to think it. Because, in a town overpopulated with journeyman minor leaguers, he's an all star. He shakes up the system, which is not always a good thing, but it almost always is. He's the only member of the Cabinet to do that, and DoD, for all of its faults, is probably the most interesting building in town. It's sure a lot better than the White House and the NSC, and none of those people—the Hadleys, the O'Sullivans (a name you probably don't know, but she is in charge of Middle East policy at the NSC), the Abramses, etc.—is walking the plank. We can't prevail without people like Rumsfeld, the meteors of the political universe. He's a pure American type.
He's one of those people who does a lot of good things you never hear about, because he doesn't talk about them and he doesn't want his people to talk about them. One example: there's a Pentagon program to train dogs to assist blinded and crippled soldiers. It takes about two years to properly train the dogs, and the cost is forty thousand dollars each. One of the dogs was brought in to Rumsfeld's office for a visit, and when it was over, he took out his check book and covered the full cost of one of them. You wouldn't have read about it in the MSM, I promise you, but his future biographers should know such things.
And while I thought he should be replaced, I found the manner and the moment of his purge utterly disgusting. What was the rush? It was one of the worst moments of W's presidency. It was a double surrender by the president, throwing a severed head to the Democrats and to the terrorists. You can be quite sure that the terror masters saw the election as a great victory, and Rumsfeld's ritual sacrifice as a moment of glory. It will encourage them to redouble their efforts, both in Iraq/Afghanistan, and elsewhere. They believe they have Bush's number, that they have broken him, and all they must do now is keep the blood flowing to accelerate our retreat. My heart breaks for the Iraqis.
Victor Davis Hanson writes:
I think [Rumsfeld] was right, and that most troops in Iraq today would agree. I was just talking to a Marine Lt. back from Haditha and Hit; his chief worry was not too few Americans, but rather Iraqi Security Forces insidiously expecting Americans to do their own security patrolling. Since sending in tens of thousands to do a Grozny-like smash-up is both politically impossible and antithetical to American policy, I don't see the advantage of more troops at all, especially when we will soon near 400,000 Iraqis in arms, which, together with coalition forces of ca. 150,000, would in theory provide 555,000—or more than the "peacetime" army of Saddam's. As a rule in history, it is not just the size, but the nature, rules of engagement, and mission, of armies that matter.]
For the future, neither precipitous withdrawal nor a big build-up are the right solutions, the former will leave chaos, the latter will only ensure perpetual Iraqi dependency. As it is, there are too many support troops over in Iraq in compounds, who are not out with Iraqis themselves; more troops will only ensure an even bigger footprint and more USA-like enclaves. Abezaid, Casey, Petraeus, McMaster, etc. understand counter-insurgency and the need for a long-term commitment that marries political autonomy for the Iraqis with American aid, commandos, and air support. Rumsfeld supported them all.
A final note.Whatever Rumsfeld's past in the 1970s and 1980s, he wholeheartedly supported the present effort to offer the MIddle East something other than realpolitik. I don't see how the Reagan-Bush era 1980s and early 1990s policies in the Middle East—selling arms to Iran, putting troops in Lebanon and running when they were hit, cynically playing off Iran against Iraq, selling weapons to any thug in the Middle East, giving a blank check to the House of Saud, letting the Shiites and Kurds be massacred in February-March 1991—were anything other than precursors to the events of 9/11—when, of course, enhanced by the shameless Clintonian appeasement of the middle and late 1990s.
The return of the realists-Baker, Gates, and the former advisors to GB I-should prove an interesting mix with the Dean-Pelosi Democrats. The latter used to call for idealism in foreign policy, then got it with GWB's democratization, then turned on him, and now will get the realism that they currently profess to favor. Don't hold your breath.