Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Rumsfeld's Failed Iraq Analysis

Thanks to Think Progress, I looked up the CBS story on Rumsfeld. The third paragraph is the key:
The United States is faring poorly in its effort to counter ideological support for terrorism, in part because the government does not communicate effectively, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday.

Rumsfeld made the remark in response to a question from a member of his audience at the Army War College, where he delivered a speech on the challenges facing the country in fighting a global war on terrorism.

"If I were grading I would say we probably deserve a 'D' or a 'D-plus' as a country as to how well we're doing in the battle of ideas that's taking place in the world today," he told his questioner. "I'm not going to suggest that it's easy, but we have not found the formula as a country" for countering the extremists' message.
First, Rumsfeld errs when he speaks of our country deserving low grades; rather, it's the Bush Administration, Rumsfeld included, that deserves the low grades. Second, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have spent four years ignoring advice from others including some of the finest officials, analysts and generals that a country can expect to have; we as a nation are paying the price for Bush's arrogance, incompetence and a reckless belief that ideological willfulness can somehow substitute for honest analysis. Third, and this is huge, the biggest failure of the administration, and Rumsfeld is near the top of that list, is the failure to make the connection between message and action. The biggest blunders have not been poorly phrased verbal messages but actions that speak far louder than the words: threatening seasoned American officals who were asked for their professional advice by Congress, insufficient troops, troops told to ignore looting, no postwar planning, stashes of conventional arms left unattended, firing the Iraqi army, firing most of the Baath party, privatization games, the failure to keep the power on and services going, the failure to secure borders, the fantasies about Ahmed Chalabi, the profound moral lapses at the White House and Pentagon that led to Abu Ghraib, the Fallujah fiasco and a failure to prove by any number of actions, and, yes, statements, that we were in Iraq only temporarily and that Iraq truly belonged to the Iraqis. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld all suffer the extraordinary delusion that a message put out by people skilled in public relations is somehow sufficient to make real problems go away, problems that too often were the doing of the three men and no one else. And this says nothing of the long string of lies that were told to get us into the war in the first place.

Even if somehow we can manage to clean up George W. Bush's mess, Iraq represents a failure of historic proportions; Rumsfeld flatters himself if he thinks in terms of a D or D-plus. In one sense, Americans have indeed been at fault for letting a long string of blunders and failures go on without holding the Bush Administration accountable. Many of the problems with the Bush Administration have been obvious well before the last two election cycles; we can only hope that an overwhelming majority of Americans finally recognize that we need serious changes in Washington. This is not about conservatives or liberals; this is about a government that has run so far off the track, it defies explanation.

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