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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by zimv20, Oct 22, 2003.
Seems like a pretty sensible set of questions. And darned tough to answer.
At the referenced meeting, I'd bet there's gonna be a bunch of squirming and waffling and butt-covering.
The implications of "...an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution..." are truly wondrous to contemplate.
Rumsfeld leaked this memo in order to fight for his turf in a escalating mess; he needs to shift the blame. This has been a Rumsfeld and Cheney show from the get go and now that it is getting out how much a mess they have made of it he raises questions about the military bureaucrats, CIA, and by implication the State Department. On the Newshour, I think it was, that they talked about how happy DoD was to discuss this leak. It is CYA time for Rummy.
it would read that this would be part of the CYA effort since the rebuilding got moved from him to ms. rice.
but i'd heard an additional reason for that to happen -- the director of the NSA is immune from congressional mandate to testify. can anyone confirm this?
Regardless of why the memo was leaked, the questions are valid. Some feet oughta be held to the fire about an open and public discussion by the people involved, those to whom the memo was sent.
If you have gotten yourself into a mess, it seems to me that continuing the same old stuff ain't gonna get you out.
As far as blame, there's more than enough for everybody. Airing out the sequence of decisions, however, rather than finger-pointing, could allow better ways of doing things in the future. I'm not an optimist, here, of course, given the past history of the doings of the Beltway Bandits.
Ah another "snowflake". Funny how these small government people want to create another buerocracy. Bush has increased government spending at a huge rate. Unfortunately all the increases have gone mainly to the military, and the deliberate strangulation of the social programs continues.
I would like to see those questions answered as well. I would also like to see Rumsfeld and Cheney answer some questions themselves. Seems if they can call on others to explain themselves, they could accomodate some of the many people who have questions for them. Or maybe they think they are above the law.
Don't forget that after Bush Jr., if he manages to get reelected, there is no VP that is electable. Cheney won't ever be a president, especially 5 more years from now. That puts Rumsfeld in an interesting position. He's extremely well known, has name recognition, and some popularity.
This might be a mere CYA, but it also seems like it has larger goals.
Here's StratFor's take on the meaning of the memo:
"The memo states the obvious. Here's what's interesting: Not only was it made public, Rumsfeld affirmed it in an Oct. 22 press conference. Obviously, he wanted it to be public. From our point of view, the reason is clear. A central criticism about Rumsfeld -- one that we have made several times -- is that he appeared to be out of touch with reality. Or, as we put it once, he's been fighting a different war than the rest of us were watching.
This memo confirms what we've always suspected -- Rumsfeld's public persona and his own evaluation of reality are very different. Part of the pressure to move Rumsfeld aside as the dominant personality in the war came from the perception that he could not admit to the unanticipated problems in Iraq. For us, at least, this posed a serious crisis of confidence in him. If the
man couldn't see the problems, he couldn't possibly fix them. In the end, President George W. Bush kept him on board, but reshuffled the deck -- slipping in National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice over him on Iraq and Afghanistan.
This memo is Rumsfeld's reply. In it, he states his awareness of the serious problems and convenes his senior civilian and military staff to consider methods of dealing with them. He also acknowledges that the problems are deeply rooted and require fundamental rethinking of how the United States will fight this war. There is an implicit political message here -- Rumsfeld knew this all along, but maintained his cheerleader attitude to play the
role the administration assigned to him. Therefore, the memo implies, it is unfair to blame him for the problems, since he had always known them.
On this score, Rumsfeld is undoubtedly telling the truth. He is an
extraordinarily capable man, and those of far less capacity -- like us -- knew there were serious problems. He knew it as well, and has now stated the problem very clearly. After Pearl Harbor, a fundamental rethinking took place on ways to fight that war. Commanders were retired and reassigned; the services' institutional frameworks were redefined. After Sept. 11, there
were no fundamental changes -- not in people or institutions.
Worse yet, the peacetime process inside the Department of Defense continued to manage procurement, personnel and most other issues. A global war was being managed by a peacetime entity. This "business as usual" approach resulted in a range of problems -- from intelligence failures to manpower shortages to misallocation. Rumsfeld's most important point is whether the
Defense Department is capable of fighting a war like this, or whether an entirely new entity must be created to do so.
This is a breath of fresh air. Rather than stale optimism, Rumsfeld is grappling with the fundamental question. This war -- like every other war ever fought -- is different from what went before. The Defense Department was configured to fight the war that never happened, and it also fought -- though not particularly well -- a series of other wars that needed fighting, such as Korea and Vietnam. The department's basic structure has not changed,
in spite of the fact that the Cold War is long over, and the U.S.-Islamist war bears no resemblance to it. The same planning and administrative mechanisms built to fight the Cold War are trying to fight this one. As a result, the forces available for this war look remarkably like those designed to defend the north German plain. This probably won't work.
Most likely, the memo will become a political football. But the fact is the nited States usually doesn't do particularly well in the early stages of war. Failures are what compel military revolution and lead the United States to victory. Vietnam was the one exception to this rule -- fundamental rethinking of lessons learned did not happen until much too late. The six-month delay between unexpected problems in Iraq and recognition of those problems is not particularly unusual in U.S. defense thinking, nor is it strategically significant -- unless Rumsfeld's memo is ignored.
The interesting thing now will be whether this memo sinks into the Potomac like so many memos, or becomes the basis for radical rethinking of U.S. operations at all levels and in all theaters. In six months, if the current array of senior commanders is still in place, the current personnel policies are still applied, the intelligence problems remain unfixed and the strategic vision impaired, then the memo will be a footnote in history. If, on the other hand, it triggers a wave of retirements, and new policies and tempos geared to this war, then the memo will be historic.
We're probably in the minority on this, but our bet is that the United States -- as in previous wars -- is on the threshold of an upheaval in the Defense Department, the CIA and elsewhere. For better or worse, this is how America fights its wars. The current situation cannot continue if the president hopes to be re-elected. We do not underestimate Washington's inertia, but neither should we underestimate the incredible pressure that is building under the Bush administration."
Lotta food for thought, there. It ties in with what many have been saying, ever since the end of the USSR. Hackworth has spoken to it in some of his "perfumed Princes of the Pentagon" commentaries. Rummy's obviously fed up with the idea of "Generals prepare to fight the previous war."
His mention of possibly forming a new organization is very interesting. Is an organization similar to RAINBOW a real possibility? What do you think?
The problem for Rumsfeld is that none of these other agencies (State, CIA...) accept his brilliance. In fact he has had this awful problem with the military brass - they keep telling him that they can't do what he thinks they should do with the kind and amount of troops he wants. It is quite embarrassing all these other folks saying, "Look, we told you so" but what is a self proclaimed genius to do? He obviously knows more than career military people, and those bums in the CIA kept fouling up his plans with reports that didn't tell him the right things. And don't get me started on those traitors in the State Department. Now, Condi Rice actually wants to coordinate this stuff! What's a megalomaniac to do? I know, leak a memo to place the blame for this mess on everyone else and float the idea of breaking up all those other malcontents power bases.
In all seriousness folks, Rumsfeld is a very dangerous man. Dangerous to democracy right here in the old USA. If he has his way this war will spread and the morass we are in in Iraq will only be the start.
yamabushi, I'm not "up" on RAINBOW...
Sayhey, stipulate that you're correct about Rumsfeld character. Does that keep the points raised in the memo from being germane to today's world? Some of the ideas were spoken of during the latter stages of the Vietnam war...
I'm afraid that the nature of asymmetrical warfare is that we will always be in the position of losing until we win, while our opponents will be winning until they lose. Rumsfeld can't change that, and being a smart guy he surely knows this. Suggests to me that he has some ulterior motive to leaking this memo.
context is everything. Rumsfeld raises these question in his leaked memo in the context of the rejection of the many studies and suggestions of others from previous administrations. It is as if he discovered the need to study the use of the military in the age of asymmetrical warfare. What happened to Hart-Rudman? What happened was that this administration threw it out right before the need for the reforms they recommended and the concerns they raised were shown in the 9/11 attacks.
'Rat, you are right that some of these concerns have been around since the Vietnam War days. Doesn't that raise the question why Rumsfeld has not taken them into account in his pushing us into a war in Iraq where everyone else rejected the rosy scenarios he has been putting forth since day one?
The context of this memo is also with the history of Rumsfeld running roughshod over the military brass in the force commitment to Iraq. The context of this memo is also with the Department of Defense throwing out all the State Department prewar studies and recommendations on what to do in a post war Iraq to "win the peace." Why? because they came from State. The context of this memo is also in a situation where he and his friends and subordinates in the civilian leadership of DoD subverted the normal intelligence procedures to make sure they had estimates that agreed with their existing bellicose plans for Iraq.
All of these power games from Rumsfeld and friends while more and more US soldiers die and are maimed every day. All of this while countless Iraqi civilians suffer and die. I have no sympathy for his ruminations. Let's get somebody in charge who is more interested in the truth than his own grand strategy or his personal ambition.
you asked. If you don't like the answer say so.
I follow your argument; in your context, you're correct. I was thinking more about the memo's points, rather than the Rummy himself.
Look. For all his faults or flaws, Rummy is not unintelligent. Some of the things he has said while on the job have made sense to me. Other stuff, I've disagreed with. Pentagon squabbles? This time it's the SecDef hammering the Pentagon; some prior times have seen the opposite.
Whatever his plans may be as to a future in politics, I'll be more concerned in 2007/2008 than now. So many folks are are always laying the groundwork for some future run of some sort that I file stuff "in back" and don't worry about the right-now.
ok, let me ask you a question about the content of the memo, devoid of Rumsfeld or the context in which it was put out. Doesn't the experience of dealing with terrorism tell us that it should be dealt with as a police matter rather than a military matter? Shouldn't we be working for greater intelligence and policing cooperation between nations and try to deal with these folks in ways that don't give them greater targets and propaganda opportunities? As it stands, Rummy's war plan seems to have played right into al Qaeda's hand. But then I've always thought this had nothing to do with a "war on terrorism" and all about geopolitics.
"Doesn't the experience of dealing with terrorism tell us that it should be dealt with as a police matter rather than a military matter?"
I think it takes both. I don't think it will *always* require the military, of course. How else but military could be the way to go in a situation like that of Afghanistan?
"Shouldn't we be working for greater intelligence and policing cooperation between nations..."
From what I read, this is going on. It doesn't get the media coverage that is shown situations like Iraq.
"...and try to deal with these folks in ways that don't give them greater targets and propaganda opportunities?"
As much as is possible, yes. What I see as a big problem is that Pandora's box is already open. Note that Islamic terrorists are attacking quite a number of folks who aren't all that close to the U.S. Indonesia is probably the most obvious example.
I don't at all see this as a war between Islam and the western culture/Christianity. I do see it as a war between Jihadists and the western world. (To be a bit sloppy in the language.) When you have a billion Islamics, a tiny percentage of Jihadists is a large number of terrorists. A further problem is that "They evahwheah! They evahwheah!" And, sadly, various governments use them in their own agendas...
I actually don't think we are doing that well in building international relationships and cooperation. Instead we seem to be thumbing our nose at the world community in as many ways as possible.
And speaking of Rummy, his comments about "old Europe" were a big part of that thumb.
you're right that in Afghanistan it required military action. I think the use of the military in Iraq, however has backfired on us in the war against al Qaeda. Not only has it stretched resources incredibly thin (most importantly intelligence resources) but it alienated us from many people who would have and did help us against al Qaeda. Syria is a case in point. They gave important intelligence regarding al Qaeda, but that has largely evaporated in the wake of Iraq and threats against Damascus. The same can be said for many countries that had been moved to closer cooperation by the events of 9/11.
yes, the amount of goodwill towards the US after 9/11 is matched only by the magnitude of the world's negative opinion of the US invading iraq.