Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An early Veterans' Day gift: Bush announces Rumsfeld's Resignation

This morning the New York Times editorialized: "Whatever this election accomplished, it did nothing to end the rancor and distrust that define current American politics. Yet, as the campaign went on (and on) there was one issue on which people from both parties appeared to be finding common ground: Donald Rumsfeld has to go."

In a few minutes, President Bush will announce the resignation of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Let's review his record:

(1) Establishing the Office of Special Plans (OSP) which cherry-picked, manipulated and possibly even manufactured intelligence to build a case for invading Iraq. Led by Douglas Feith, the OSP greatly exaggerated what little evidence there was of Iraqi weapons of mass-destruction (WMDs) and sought to discredit CIA reports on the absence of any evidence of a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Even the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (which expresses the coordinated judgments of the US Intelligence Community made up of 16 intelligence agencies) was forced to admit that its "judgments" of Iraqi-al-Qaeda ties and a WMD threat were based on "sources of varying reliability." For the intelligence community to include information based on questionable sources (such as Iraqi defectors who had been vetted-and-coached by the Iraq National Congress and a forged Nigerian document about a shipment of nuclear material to Iraq) in a National Intelligence Estimate shows how warped the process had become.

(2) Seizing Pentagon control of the post-invasion nation-building in Iraq, despite his and the President's own admission that the military doesn't do nation-building.

(3) Failing to heed the advice of countless experts (including uniformed officers and war colleges) about how to plan and prepare for the "day after" Saddam Hussein... like how the looting and chaos would prove to be far more destructive than the military invasion itself.

(4) Pressuring war-planners to cut the number of U.S. forces sent into Iraq . Rumsfeld repeatedly brushed aside calls for a larger occupation force for several reasons: (1) arrogance: Rumsfeld felt he truley understood modern warfare and that the military was stuck in the past in terms of strategy. Besides a strategy of minimal force had proved successful in Afghanistan, and so Rumself assumed same would be true for Iraq. (2) the war could have been postponed, perhaps indefinitely : a force of 300,000-500,000 troops would have taken significantly longer to deploy, Congress may have been loathe to allocate the additional funds necessary and with this delay there was a possibility that a diplomatic solution may have been realized. But Rumsfeld wanted his war, and he wanted it as soon as possible, so he disregarded the advice of Army generals and sent a much smaller force than was needed.

(5) Appointing men and women based on political loyalty to President Bush rather than relevant expertise on Iraq, Arabic, or post-conflict reconstruction.

For this look no further than Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran's brilliant book Imperial Life in the Emerald City:

"...applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration... Many of those chosen by [Jim] O'Beirne's office [at Rumsfeld's Pentagon] to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting. The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors."

(6) Appointing and presiding over L Paul Bremer's disastrous mismanagement of the Coalition Provision Authority (CPA) including:
(a) Disbanding the one institution the U.S. military needed as a partner more than any other in order to secure Iraq and restore public order: Iraq's National Army. The result, more than 300,000 men with guns thrown onto the streets of Iraq, making them more part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
(b) Ordering the de-Ba'athification of Iraqi institutions, despite the fact that many -- if not most -- Iraqi civil servants joined Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party out of fear for their families or to ensure career advancement.
(c) Exacerbating ethnic and sectarian conflict by appointing an Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) largely composed of ethnic and sectarian-based opposition parties
(d) Failing to account for billions of dollars of Iraqi revenue

(7) Appointing Lt. Gen. Sanchez to the head of the Multi-National Force in Iraq. Sanchez became infamous during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal as the senior commander in charge at the time. Abu Ghraib has often been portrayed as a lapse in judgment on the part of several rogue soldiers; however, the reality is that Sanchez actually signed off on these incidents of prisoner abuse. Beyond Abu Ghraib, Sanchez is can and should be held responsible fo rmuch of the violence and chaos that grip Iraq today. Sanchez came to Iraq with orders to quell an insurgency in its infancy and restore order to Iraq. He went about it in the worst way possible. Sanchez employed a doctrine of "search and destroy", using exaggerated firepower and dealing with Iraqis in the harshest way possible. These tactics completely alienated Iraqis, and encouraged them to hate America and its soldiers. What's more, the strategy was completely ineffective in terms of putting a stop to the violence. By the time he left a year later, Iraq was in complete turmoil, with insurgent attacks and crime

(8) Authorizing elections that further polarized and cemented divisions within Iraqi society along ethnic and sectarian lines.

(9) Torture at Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run detention facilities Though commanders in the field ought to bare the brunt of this scandal, Rumsfeld was certainly complicit in the prisoner abuse that took place in Iraq. He approved of these interrogation tactics for use not only in Iraq but in Guantamo as well.

(10) Failing to hold himself or anyone accountable for gross misconduct and failures, and repeatedly ignoring Congressional requests for information

Sadly I could go on.

1 comment:

Matteo Tomasini said...

A more detailed entry on the Rumsfeld resignation is in the works, but in the meantime here is my question: Why didn't Bush ask Rumsfeld to resign before the election? The recent election was considered by most people, pundits and voters alike, to be a referendum on the Iraq war. And Rumsfeld can be held accountable, regardless of whether he was, for majority of mistakes that occurred during the war. So why not just have the guy resign say three weeks ago? I'm sure the White House had already determined Rumsfeld's fate at that point. Even if they didn't, apparently Gates was offered the job last week so they did have some time to make an announcement prior to elections. Certainly would have helped his party. Not complaining, just wondering really.

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