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Tuesday, 05 September 2006 07:29

Mike Whitney: Don Rumsfeld: Wrong About Everything

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by Mike Whitney

"As you know, you go to war with the army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Name one part of the occupation of Iraq that has succeeded?

From the shortage of soldiers, to de-Ba'athification, to the disbanding the Iraqi military, to the lack of body-armor, to leaving the ammo-dumps unprotected, to Falluja, to Abu Ghraib, to Haditha, to the stage-managed, public relations Jessica Lynch gambit (which was later exposed as a sham) every facet of Iraqi fiasco has been a complete and utter failure.

And whose name is on that failure? Whose name features most prominently on the greatest strategic disaster in American history?

Don Rumsfeld.

Major General Paul Eaton summarized Rumsfeld's dismal performance this way:

"Rumsfeld has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq."

Keep in mind that Eaton is a conservative Republican and a firm believer in America's preemptive war in Iraq. His comments simply reflect his ability to objectively judge performance and to assign blame where blame belongs. In this case, the person who is most responsible for the bungled policy in Iraq is Don Rumsfeld.

Fellow Lt. General Gregory Newbold was equally critical of Rumsfeld and said, "The decision to invade Iraq was done with a casualness and a swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions---or bury the results."

Newbold is right; they don't "bury the results" at the American Enterprise Institute, or at the Pentagon, or at the many smoke-filled, bastions where American plutocrats like Rumsfeld lark about, but in small-town America; Bakersfield, Winooski, Devils Lake, where parents and young widows choke back the tears for the men who lost their lives in Rumsfeld's folly. That's who pays the bill for Rumsfeld's arrogance.

Rumsfeld's failures are legion, but they do not compare to the disgrace he has heaped on the United States through his authorization of the cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners in American custody. There is a clear record of official memoranda which lead straight to the office of the Secretary of Defense connecting Rumsfeld to a regime of torture and abuse directed at men who have never been charged with a crime and who are the unwitting victims of a terrorist witch-hunt.

Rumsfeld's involvement in these crimes puts him well-outside our fundamental traditions and beliefs as Americans. His conduct is an assault of the basic principles which we hold most dear and which are written into our founding documents.

"We hold these truths to be self evident..."

It is impossible to grasp how someone can be raised in America, matriculate at American universities, participate in the American political system, and spend the bulk of his life breathing in the same American customs and mores as the rest of us, and yet, be so completely divorced from the most essential values of the culture.

Rumsfeld is like a man who has passed through his entire life impervious to his surroundings and to the nations' prevailing ethos. He is, quite simply, the most un-American character to ever serve in high-office.

So, it is surprising, then, that Rumsfeld, whose litany of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan follow him like the plumage on a peacock, would decide to take aim at his many critics in a speech delivered to the American Legion last Thursday. It just shows that there are really no limits to the obtuseness of the men who currently hold power in America.

"Once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," Rumsfeld opined. "But some seem not to have learned history's lessons. Can we truly afford to believe that, somehow or someway, vicious extremists could be appeased?"

Rumsfeld's words are aimed at the 61% of Americans who no longer believe that the war in Iraq is "worth it". He dismisses them as "appeasers". Of course, at one time many of these people supported the war and didn't really care about the moral or legal implications as long as America won. What changed their minds was the staggering incompetence of the civilian leadership. The Sec-Def should examine his own performance to truly understand why public support has eroded so dramatically.

Tom Friedman summarized Rumsfeld's strategy as the "Rumsfeld Doctrine"; deploying "just enough troops to lose." The Secretary's disregard for the advice of his subordinates triggered massive civil unrest and mayhem across Iraq ensuring America's defeat.

Rumsfeld claims that his critics are "appeasers" or "fascist" sympathizers, but that's just a silly attempt to set up a straw man and then knock him down. He is a master at shifting attention from his own wretched performance and then blaming it someone else. In this case, he condemns everyone who has lost faith in America's ability to succeed as well as his old nemesis "the media".

The media has played a central role in sustaining support for the war; keeping anti-war critics out of their studios and off the air. They've limited their Iraq coverage to scenes of Arab's killing Arabs rather that the daily digest of American bombing-raids, decimated Iraqi cities and the ruination of an entire country. Still, in Rumsfeld's mind, any information that leaches through the fissures in the media fa├žade and doesn't promote the blinkered goal of American hegemony, is tantamount to treason.

"Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of (media) myths and distortions that are being told about our country and our troops," Rumsfeld moaned. "The struggle we are in is too important to have the luxury of returning to that old mentality of "Blame America First."

Rumsfeld's words were immediately followed by an announcement from the Pentagon that they would tender a "$20 million public relations contract that calls for extensive monitoring of US and Middle Eastern media in an effort to promote more positive coverage from Iraq." (Wa Post)

This shows how utterly disconnected from reality Rumsfeld really is. Rather than deal with the issues and make the necessary policy changes, he attacks the messenger and sets up another agency for silencing dissent. He doesn't even see the war as a problem; its merely a challenge for his "perception management" team at the Pentagon. These are the signs of someone who is in the advanced stages of delusional meglomania and is incapable of personal reflection or moral accountability.

No one is "manipulating the media" to oppose the war, quite the contrary. The corporate media has been a vital cog in the Pentagon's information stratagem and is probably the most successful part of the war effort. They have maintained an astonishing level of support for a war that has yet to produce any moral justification or any recognizable "metric" for achieving victory. It simply drags on day by day grinding out more carnage while reducing the "cradle of civilization" into a pile of smoldering wreckage.

The Pentagon's own report provided the most scathing account of America's failed crusade. The report admitted that, "Sectarian violence is spreading in Iraq and the security problems have become more complex than anytime since the invasion in 2003...The illegal militias have become more entrenched, especially in Baghdad neighborhoods where they are seen as providers of both security and basic social services." (NY Times)

In other words, everything has gone from bad to worse and there are no tangible signs of improvement.

Is the Pentagon part of the "Blame America First" crowd too? Is the Big Brass trying to "manipulate the media and demoralize public opinion" as Rumsfeld claims?

Opposition to the war is now emerging from all sectors of society and it continues to grow despite the optimistic accounts in the media. America was defeated in Iraq when the first bomb was dropped on Baghdad in March 2003. It's been downhill ever since. After 4 years of the most pitiless warfare against a civilian population, the magnitude of that defeat has only increased.

Rumsfeld is mistaken when he says that opponents of the war suffer from "moral confusion." Moral confusion is a condition of men who deliberately inflict pain on other human beings in violation of the most fundamental standards of human decency. In fact, those activities far exceed mere confusion; they indicate a state of total moral decay. Such people are not fit to make even the most elementary ethical judgments, let alone to decide on the important issues of war and peace.

Support for the war is on a steady downward trajectory. That won't change because of the delusional ravings of a man who, more than any other, is responsible for the shame and degradation the conflict has brought on our country.

That man is Don Rumsfeld.