Friday, January 12, 2007

Worst Ever? (Secretary of Defense edition)

Dick Cheney says that Donald Rumsfeld is the finest Secretary of Defense ever. Okay, that’s just stupid. But there is an open question about whether he is the worst ever.

After all, Rumsfeld over-ruled the generals who said we shouldn’t invade Iraq, and if you do, you will need three times as many troops as were used. To give Rumsfeld his due, he did send a force of 120,000 troops to conquer Baghdad, and in a matter of weeks they toppled that dreaded statue.

Sure, we took too many casualties. Rumsfeld explained it away by telling the troops that they were not the army that he wanted to go to war with, but rather the army he happened to have on hand. The real reason for so many casualties was in part that we rushed into this war without taking the time to up-armor the Humvees and provision the troops with body armor.

Of course, the biggest failing of Donald Rumsfeld is that he didn’t do enough planning for the aftermath of his war of choice. He would have you believe that he did have a plan, but that it did not survive contact with the reality on the ground. Remember how he described the plan?
Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what’s going to happen here.
How long is this war going to last? Rumsfeld told us before it even started: “It might take 6 hours, 6 days, maybe 6 weeks, but I doubt it will take 6 months.” So far it has lasted longer than World War II, but who’s counting?

Those who are counting know that this war has cost 360 trillion dollars, and the lives of more than 3,000 American soldiers, sailors, and airmen, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of troops maimed, disabled and disfigured and the many more Iraqi civilian casualties most of whom are children.

Let’s be clear: even one casualty is too many in an unnecessary war that strengthens the hands of our avowed enemies, Iran and Syria, replaces one tyrant, Saddam, with another, Chaos, all the while making the entire region unstable. So much the more so, if in the prosecution of the war costs our beloved nation the respect and credibility that was our pride.

You must admit that Rumsfeld has a pretty impressive resume if he’s running for worst-ever Secretary of Defense. But Rummy goes way back with Dick Cheney and we have to assume that Dick doesn’t want to hang that collar on Rummy.

Which is why Cheney must have been delighted to have Robert Gates appointed to replace Rumsfeld. As I pointed out here, Robert Gates, when he was deputy director of the CIA, produced a phony chronology of the “enterprise,” to cover up the crimes and lies collectively known as the Iran-Contra scandal.

Since that time, Gates served in the Iraq Study Group which was supposed to be the best and the brightest thinking by experts on the subject of what to do about the mess the Bush and Rumsfeld got us into. The Iraq Study Group was hailed as bi-partisan, although it did not include anyone who opposed the war in the first place. Mostly, it was made up of friends of Bush 41, the most notable of whom was James Baker, who managed somehow to convince the Supreme Court of the United States that counting votes was unconstitutional and undemocratic.

After the report of the Iraq Study Group came out, King George was quick to praise it, but quicker yet to ignore it. Gates was appointed to be Secretary of Defense, and announced that in his new position he would need to be briefed and brought up to speed on this whole Iraq war thing.

Well, the briefing and vetting is done, and in consultation with nearly everyone, the Administration produced the latest iteration of the same old shit. Call it, “Urge to Surge,” but the bottom line it is more of the same, only more so. Now for the hard work of defending it to the American people who don’t trust Bush and disapprove of his handling of Iraq by margins of 2:1.

And so it was that Robert Gates was once more pressed into service, and how he found himself testifying in House Armed Services Committee. The Ithaca Journal reported it this way:
At one point Gates, just three weeks on the job, told lawmakers, “I would confess I’m no expert on Iraq.” Later, asked about reaching the right balance between American and Iraqi forces, he told the panel he was “no expert on military matters.”
Move over, Rumsfeld. If you want to be remembered as the worst Defense Secretary you are going to have to beat out a guy who conspired to give false testimony to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, and who now, in a surprising display of candor, testifies under oath that he is not qualified for his job.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

1 comment:

JollyRoger said...

To be worse than anyone in this Administration is going to be a hat trick.

I think for just plain, unadulterated clueless stupid, El Shrubbo and Condoliesalot Rice are about equal. From there, of course, you go to different degrees of stupid throughout the administration-but stupid is the one common that doesn't change.