Saturday, November 11, 2006


What will the departure of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld mean for U.S. policy in Iraq? Quite a number of people insist that our whole Iraq policy has been completely and wholly architected by Rumsfeld and that everybody else has just going along for the ride. If only that were true. The reality is that Rumsfeld has been simply the "point man" for the Neoconservative military policy of preemptive war. President Bush was wholeheartedly behind the push to "liberate" Iraq. Ditto for Cheney. Ditto for countless unnamed staffers within the administration. Ditto for quite a few Congressmen and Senators and their staffers. And ditto to the nth degree for the Neoconservatives and the now-defunct Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the rest of the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby. So many people were so gung ho for every aspect of the policies that Rumsfeld was charged with carrying out. Now, as things have not turned out as expected, many of those "supporters" are either silent or actively jumping ship, leaving Rumsfeld holding the bag. Yes, he is certainly one of the main culprits, but to suggest that it was all his doing is truly absurd.

To be clear, the concept of preemptively liberating Iraq did not originate with Rumsfeld. The concept of fighting wars with smaller, technologically superior, and more agile forces did not originate with Rumsfeld. A disdain for "the generals and the admirals" did not originate with Rumsfeld. A disinterest in "nation building" did not originate with Rumsfeld. The whole Neoconservative agenda did not originate with Rumsfeld.

Yes, now that Iraq is a true quagmire, everybody blames Rumsfeld, but this is simply classic scapegoating. Even anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan notes that "He's being offered as a sacrificial lamb."

It is not sufficient to simply replace Rumsfeld. The thought that the new guy will all by himself radically change policy in Iraq is terribly naive and misguided. The big question now is how the supporters of the Neoconservative military and foreign policies will react. Will they yield, or will they only turn up the heat on President Bush and others within the administration whose ears they whisper into with urgent "briefing papers"?

The good news is that the raw power of a Democratic majority in Congress may be able to counteract the raw power of the Neoconservatives and the rest of the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby. The primary difficulty is that quite a few Democrats are also under the sway of the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby.

We will see changes in our Iraq policy, but the nature and extent of those changes is not readily apparent.

The bottom line is that changes will result more from a combination of the new Democratic majority and the upcoming recommendations from the Iraq Study Group than from Rumsfeld's departure.

The sad truth is that Rumsfeld was doing about as well as humanly possible given the misguided nature of the Neoconservative mission. Yes, we should blame Rumsfeld (and hundreds of others) for lobbying for the mission in the first place, but to suggest that the current quagmire is mostly of his doing is absurd. There is plenty of blame to go around.

Anybody who believes that the departure of Rumsfeld "changes everything" is a fool. The shifting sands that led to Rumsfeld's departure do mean everything and will change everything, but Rumsfeld was simply a bit player in the grand scheme of things. He was a dramatic symbol to be sure, but symbols are not reality.

And for those who argue that Rumsfeld's biggest mistake was not sending more soldiers, all I have to say is that we all should be eternally grateful that at least this one aspect of the war plan was in fact wise, otherwise we would have significantly higher casualty counts and a larger insurgency as well. Yes, it is counterintuitive, but the proper response to an insurgency is less force. The insurgency is politically motivated, and needs a political solution. "Crushing" the insurgency is not and has never been and never will be a reasonable policy option.

Rumsfeld should be packing his bags, but his departure alone should not be a cause for dancing in the streets.

-- Jack Krupansky


At 8:14 PM , Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years in the Defense Industrial Complex working on many of the weapons our troops are using today.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled "Odyssey of Armaments".

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex
establishment,budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Adminisitrations and the Congresses come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps on grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate the machine.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be - Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particulary if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details. Answer- he can't. Therefor he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is ablsolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won't happen unitil it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagon instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.


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