Saturday, December 02, 2006

Rumsfeld Memo Written Just Before Being Fired

The nation is still waiting for the president to step outside his bubble and face reality. Next week is the report from the Baker Iraq Study Group and we'll see how realistic their proposals are or whether they're just providing cover for the president. If James Baker and the others do their job, though, it will be a rough week for Bush. We may soon know if anyone can get through to junior.

Sometimes it's impossible to know what to make of all the figures in the Bush Administration. The gang that can't shoot straight continues with the same hubris and noise. You read about the arrogance, you read about the incompetence, you read about their ideological fixations and yet you wonder if it isn't all a game to them. People die and the spinners in the Bush Administration can do no better than smirk when they delude themselves into thinking they have won some minor technical point in a joust of words. But it's what they're paid for and will continue to be paid for after they leave the administration. In other words, maybe it really is just a money machine for them, and doing the right thing isn't possible because it would cut off the money machine being funded by rich billionaires on the right who could care less what the United States stands for.

If, however, the fiasco of the last four years comes down to nothing more than the gut instinct of George W. Bush, it's time to recognize that our nation has a problem—and we need to address it. And the word games are irrelevant, as they should be.

The New York Times has published a memo by Rumsfeld (hat tip to The Huffington Post) that is simply Rumsfeld covering his ass or else profoundly cynical evidence of flim flam over the last four years or, more likely, both. Here's an excerpt of the memo with an explanation by the Times:
Following is the text of a classified Nov. 6 memorandum that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sent to the White House suggesting new options in Iraq. The memorandum was sent one day before the midterm Congressional elections and two days before Mr. Rumsfeld resigned.
Above the Line: (Many of these options could and, in a number of cases, should be done in combination with others)

¶Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi Government and the U.S. — political, economic and security goals — to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made).

¶Significantly increase U.S. trainers and embeds, and transfer more U.S. equipment to Iraqi Security forces (ISF), to further accelerate their capabilities by refocusing the assignment of some significant portion of the U.S. troops currently in Iraq.


¶Initiate an approach where U.S. forces provide security only for those provinces or cities that openly request U.S. help and that actively cooperate, with the stipulation being that unless they cooperate fully, U.S. forces would leave their province.

¶Stop rewarding bad behavior, as was done in Fallujah when they pushed in reconstruction funds, and start rewarding good behavior. Put our reconstruction efforts in those parts of Iraq that are behaving, and invest and create havens of opportunity to reward them for their good behavior. As the old saying goes, “If you want more of something, reward it; if you want less of something, penalize it.” No more reconstruction assistance in areas where there is violence.

¶Position substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and, importantly, reduce Iranian influence on the Iraqi Government.

The memo goes on with some suggestions that have been floated around by others and some suggestions that are just stupid (see the point above about Fallujah). Many of the more sensible suggestions were offered more than three years ago and never implemented. I'm at a loss to know what the memo represents. Have we been watching a four year experiment by ultraconservatives to prove that they know what they're doing and, what, Rumsfeld is now admitting they don't know what they're doing? I'm at a loss to understand it.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I suspect the memo was created by Rumsfeld at Bush and/or Karl Rove's request for the purpose of making some kind of impression on the public. They probably want to give the impression Bush is considering various ideas and not stubbornly stuck in stay-the-course mode.

If that is the intention, they must be hoping people will assume all that stay-the-course talk in Amman was just posturing for the benefit of Iraqis and perhaps Iranians and Syrians.

I read fully two years ago that Rumsfeld was bored and disinterested, where Iraq was concerned. He came to his high office intending to be the architect of a reconfigured military, but kept having to deal with Iraq.

The great big KC-135 replacement tanker deal was rendered inert by scandals within the military and at the top of Boeing Co. What a drag.

Rumseld kept having to go up to Capitol Hill to face the dissatisfaction of Levin and wrath of Boxer. Despite his long service in the Bush administration, he's not a masochist.

Rumsfeld claims he tried to resign two or three times in the past. Could it be that the content of this latest memo was colored by his desire to make damn sure he'll finally be allowed to bow out? I wouldn't be surprised.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Terrell said...

Whatever their motivation, it is entertaining to see Rumsfeld proposing and Bush "considering" what the Bushies gleefully labeled "Cut & Run" when Kerry proposed it!

4:35 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

It is entertaining, but the price of admission is terribly high. And I mean "terrible" literally.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

S.W. and Terrell, thanks for the comments. S.W., maybe the memo was Rumsfeld's deliberate swan song? I heard the story about Rumsfeld being bored but I could never quite put it in context. One of the things I don't like about some people in the media is that they have stopped telling us who's painting the picture. For example, who was telling a reporter that Rumsfeld was bored and did the source have an agenda? There's probably some truth to it, though. I'm amazed Rumsfeld stayed as long as he did.

Terrell, you're right about the connection to Kerry. If Bush ever decides to copy parts of the Kerry plan, it'll be because Karl Rove has figured out a way to call it something else.

11:51 PM  

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