Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Woodward and Rumsfeld

Rich Lowry's latest article is a review of Bob Woodward's latest tome, "State of Denial." Lowry takes issue with the idea that the Bush administration is being overly optimistic, arguing in effect that Right Wing Spin is an important counterbalance to those reports about our troops dying.

On the other hand, he does take away some very trenchant criticism of Donald Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld is not interested in trying to win the war outright, so much as handing the effort over to the Iraqis. According to Woodward, "Rumsfeld said strongly and repeatedly, the Iraqis need to be given the chance to fail and fall on their faces, and only then would they pick themselves up, dust themselves off and come up with solutions."

He has tried to head off anything more robust than letting the Iraqis fend for themselves. In October 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice began to describe the U.S. approach in Iraq as the classic counterinsurgency operation of "clear, hold and build" - referring to the clearing of Iraqi insurgents from a territory and then its securing and rebuilding. Rumsfeld was outraged. Woodward writes that Rumsfeld believed, "It was wrong to say that the United States' 'political-military strategy' was all about what the U.S. would do and not what the Iraqis would do."

This was a constant tension between Rice and Rumsfeld. She wanted to do more; he wanted to do less.
Interesting. But Lowry portrays this as being close to the Democratic Position, which I suppose it is at this point. But of course the difference is that Rumsfeld was responsible for winning or losing the war in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. So having the right strategy today (such as it is) doesn't excuse him from having the wrong strategy in 2003/2004. After all it was Rumsfeld who blew off the looting, contributing to a sense of lawlessness. It was Rumsfeld who purposefully ignored planning for the post invasion period. So, having the right answer today (assuming he does), means something akin to that stopped clock being right at this particular moment.

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