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December 24, 2004

In Defense Of Rumsfeld

VDH weighs in on the current "get Rummy!" hysteria:

The Washington Post recently warned that doctors are urging interested parties of all types to get their flu shots before the "scarce" vaccine is thrown out. But how is such a surfeit possible when our national media scared us to death just a few months ago with the specter of a national flu epidemic, corporate malfeasance, and Bush laxity? That perfect storm of incompetence and skullduggery purportedly combined to leave us vulnerable to mass viral attack. So how can the Post now characterize something as "scarce" that is soon to be discarded for a want of takers? Was there too much or too little vaccine?
The answer, of course, is the usual media-inspired flight from reason that overwhelms this country at various times — hype playing on our fears and groupthink to create a sudden story when there really is none. And now with the renewed attack on Donald Rumsfeld we are back to more of the flu-shot hysteria that has been so common in this war. Remember the pseudo-crises of the past four years — the quagmire in week three in Afghanistan or the sandstorm bog-down in Iraq?

I'm not going to excerpt his fine article - it should be read in its entirety and without interruption. I will, however, comment. I instinctively oppose removing Rumsfeld at this point in time, for several reasons:

1. First (and most importantly) we are approaching the most critical juncture of what, despite the media's deliberate distortions, the administration has always maintained will be a long and difficult war.

I cannot imagine a worse time to change leadership at DOD than right before the January elections.

That anyone would even suggest such a move calls into question their seriousness. When President Bush took over after the 2000 election only to find that sophomoric Clinton-Gore staffers had removed the W's from White House keyboards, loaded PCs with porn and viruses, slashed phone lines, glued desk drawers shut, turned desks upside down and sprayed graffiti on walls, one wag quipped, "Thank God the adults are finally in charge".

It's a shame a similar revolution did not occur in Congress. If the frivolity and sheer light-mindedness of media soundbytes pertaining to Abu Gharaib did not convince voters that that august body was more concerned with the lurid than the substantive, then surely nothing will.

Without a constant stream of shocking photos to titillilate the cognoscenti behind closed doors, they have had to find a new cause celebre: a fresh source of outrage, about which they can manufacture pithy bon mots for the waiting media to lap up. Once again, not one of our noble leaders stops to think about the consequences, before they opine. Why should they? The beauty of being in Congress (as with the media) lies in being one of the herd: there is safety in numbers.

There is no accountability, except for the victims of their ill-timed and ill-considered remarks.

And how will the removal of Rumsfeld be seen by our enemies?

As a victory: once again, they have managed to sow discord and confusion in our ranks. And at a time when we need steady leadership and continuity, more than at any other time during this war, we will have discontinuity and a new, uncertain leader fumbling his way and learning on the job. Still getting up to speed in an enormously complex and challenging job. Trying to get his new staff lined up and comfortable with their new jobs.

Nice going.

2. The primary reason cited for Rumsfeld's removal has been "not enough troops in theater". Fine. Get rid of Rumsfeld. Say his replacement decides, on Day One, to increase the number of troops. Assume he can even do this, and that the waters part for him and the Way Is Miraculously Made Smooth.

Will that increase the number of troops in time for the election? By next year? Where will these troops come from? Who will pay for them? How long will it take to train and equip them and get them in theater?

The likely outcome, assuming success, is a large influx of expensive and newly-trained troops arriving after the crisis: when there is little for them to do and once the need for them has already passed. Once there of course, they become a self-perpetuating budget item. Whether or not they are needed, they will continue to rotate in and out of theater and we'll be there forever, just as in Kosovo, with as little effect.

WHAT WILL WE DO WITH THESE TROOPS?

This is the critical question. We can garrison troops all over Iraq, but if not all of Iraq is under attack, this is a massive waste of resources. We have now increased the number of potential terrorist targets and (arguably) not increased security one iota. Again, assuming these protected locations were not already under attack.

Will we launch a massive offensive against the insurgents and wipe them out? This is the only answer that makes sense.

We could have done this in April. We had the troops, but we did not. This was not Rumsfeld's choice: it was a political decision. As VDH so ably points out, it is not the number of troops, but the use to which they are put, which determines their effectiveness.

3. On the question of listening to the Generals, it strikes me that we have a great many Generals over in Iraq and Afghanistan. None has resigned in protest over lack of troops.

Not one.

If, indeed, we are critically short of troops and they are so upset about it, what does it say that not one of these men has had the balls to stand up for what he believes is right? Do you believe that? If it's true, it would seem that the failure of leadership is not all to be laid at Mr. Rumsfeld's door.

On the other hand, one or two officers have made snarky comments (or so we hear) to the press about the lack of troops. If the media are trying to figure out how the Generals really feel, they could look at the fact that not one General has protested pubicly or resigned. The obvious inference (unless you're trying to make something of nothing) is that, absent some protest, everything's copacetic. But the media dismiss the obvious out of hand and go looking for the "hidden story".

They tout the one or two malcontents who eschewed the honorable course of action (run your concerns up the chain of command, resigning if needed to underscore your feelings on the matter, and THEN go public if DOD fails to listen to you). They trust the few men most military people would view as sniveling cowards.

But they make much better copy than the men who are quietly doing their duty. Just like gloom and doom makes better copy than good news and success stories.

And so it goes.

Posted by Cassandra at December 24, 2004 05:35 AM

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Comments

But..but..he didn't sign those letters....and...and...he gave and answer that was while frank and honest, insensitive.

Can we really afford to have a secdef that is insensitive, when we need more flu shots on the ground?

Posted by: Pile On® at December 24, 2004 08:53 AM

Wonder how many condolence letters Edwin M. Stanton signed?
And, I don't remember a media outcry when Les Aspin denied our troops armor in Somalia. Pile is right, sensitivity is the most important quality we want in a SecDef. I wanna see tears, real tears, not Bll Clinton tears.
I'm tired of hearing from publicity whores like Hagel and McCain. Thank you for your service, now shutup.

Merry Christmas to all!

Posted by: sky king at December 24, 2004 10:25 AM

Inside the DOD bureaucracy, there are men in suits and men in uniform who desperately want to maintain the status quo. Rumsfeld wants to dismantle the bureaucracy.

This is why Rumsfeld should stay.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't HumVees supposed to be today's Jeep of WW2? Highly mobile vehicles, not much armoring, used to get from one place to another quickly?

Wouldn't heavily armoring these things defeat their purpose?

The SheepStream Media is looking for any excuse to get rid of Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld.

They will make up stories, outright lie and distort the facts.

Kill the "insurgents" in Iraq, down to the last man. I say this not with hate, I say this as this is the job that needs to be done. No more, no less. Terrorists gone, continue rebuilding.

Remove the Bureaucracy inside the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom. Make them mean and lean.

Aand start putting some of these "reporters" in jail for their lies.

Nuff Said

Posted by: purple raider at December 24, 2004 10:50 AM

Merry Christmas everyone!
I'm off to my folks for Christmas.
See ya in a week.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at December 24, 2004 11:28 AM

Merry Christmas Menace :)

Be safe, and be good.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 24, 2004 11:31 AM

I have to say that one of the most ironic stories I've read recently is liberals in congress being critical of the Bush administration, specifically Rumsfeld, for not have all vehicles in Iraq armored. Did these people really forget that they've been voting against defense appropriations for the last few decades?

Really the issue of armored vehicles in Iraq isn't an issue for Rumsfeld, it was a miscalculation on the part of the military. Our supply vehicles are not armored becuase for the last 50 years we've been gearing up to go toe-to-toe with a superpower where we had clear battle lines. When you have the enemy on one side of the line and no enemies on the other, you don't need to worry about having armored jeeps(humvees) or trucks to move supplies around. Now we're fighting in wars without battle lines and our supply convoys need to be armor so we're doing just that, spending material and money to make sure our supply lines are secure.

I think Rumsfeld should stay, he's a good man for the job and I hope he can tear down some of the bureaucracy fighting against making our military, more mobile. While I think we need to maintain our heavy armored divisions, it's important to realize that in coming years we will be required to quickly project power to remote parts of the world in an effort to stem the tide of terrorists. Rumsfeld seems to realize this, and there are many who are opposed to retooling our military which is one of the reasons he gets so much criticism.

-Joe

Posted by: Joe at December 24, 2004 01:27 PM

oh, PS.

Merry Christmas

-Joe

Posted by: Joe at December 24, 2004 01:27 PM

Merry Christmas Joe :)

Posted by: Cassandra at December 24, 2004 02:08 PM

Merry Christmas all.
Especially you, Princess.
May all your blessings be bright.

Posted by: spd rdr at December 24, 2004 08:32 PM

Merry Christmas spd.

I hope Santa's good to you.

Sweet dreams everyone - I have to go watch my dog bite racecars :)

Posted by: Cassandra at December 24, 2004 09:58 PM

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