Thursday, November 16, 2006

The apologists.............

It is interesting to read the papers and the internets (to quote the President) these days. Now that Donald Rumsfeld has been sacked, all sorts of people are crawling out of the woodwork to write about how great his reforms were and how he was just misunderstood.

Late last week, there appeared an article by Douglas Feith claiming:

I know that Don Rumsfeld is not an ideologue. He did not refuse to have his views challenged. He did not ignore the advice of his military advisers. And he did not push single-mindedly for war in Iraq. He was motivated to serve the national interest by transforming the military, though it irritated people throughout the Pentagon. Rumsfeld's drive to modernize created a revealing contrast between his Pentagon and the State Department, where Colin Powell was highly popular among the staff. After four years of Powell's tenure at State, the organization chart there would hardly tip anyone off that 9/11 had occurred -- or even that the Cold War was over.

Rumsfeld is a bundle of paradoxes, like a fascinating character in a work of epic literature. And as my high school teachers drummed into my head, the best literature reveals that humans are complex. They are not the all-good or all-bad, all-brilliant or all-dumb figures that inhabit trashy novels and news stories. Fine literature teaches us the difference between appearance and reality.

Because of his complexity, Rumsfeld is often misread. His politics are deeply conservative, but he was radical in his drive to force change in every area he oversaw. He is trong-willed and hard-driving, but he built his defense strategies and Quadrennial Defense Reviews on calls for intellectual humility.

Those of us in his inner circle heard him say, over and over again: Our intelligence, in all senses of the term, is limited. We cannot predict the future. We must continually question our preconceptions and theories. If events contradict them, don't suppress the bad news; rather, change your preconceptions and theories.


This from a man whose work at a subsequent Congressional hearing was described as : " Wrong, inaccurate, and misleading. That is a pretty good description
of the Feith shop's prewar intelligence analysis. It is an indictment
of the administration's use of that intelligence to make the case for
war." -[Congressional Record: May 25, 2006 (Senate)]
[Page S5298-S5301]

Then along comes Dov Zakeim, former Pentagon budget hatchet man who claims:

He does not get enough credit for dragging the DOD, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. He modernized our command structure beyond recognition: a new Northern Command to address threats to the United States; a new Joint Forces Command to combine tactics, training and experimentation with our most modern technical wizardry; a revitalized Special Operations Command that was the key to our rapid initial success in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld restructured our 40-year-old budget process to focus on how money was spent, not just on how we planned to spend it. He laid special emphasis on key weapons such as unmanned aerial vehicles, which had been stifled by the services for decades. And he initiated the forced merger of thousands of Defense business systems to bring coherence to a chaotic and wasteful enterprise.

I get sick and tired of hearing that phrase, because it ignores some very real mitigating circumstances. For one thing, may of these changes were already on the table by the services themselves. Second, the smart people saw that many of these so called changes were simply trading one bureauracy for another-father away from understanding the needs of the working Soldier and Sailor-the Navy's Fleet Forces Command is an excellent example of this type of empire building. And finally, even in the case where the changes were indeed necessary the way they were made totally ignored the input of the operator who had to make it work-or the logistics shortages that still exist in real time. So when all was said and done they saved money and people-but did not deliver the real improvements promised.

What is next? Paul Wolfowitz offering an impassioned defense?

The real verdict on Rumsfeld's tenure was given to Congress today by a man he appointed, Gen Paul Abazaid when he said:

“We can put in 20,000 more Americans tomorrow and achieve a temporary effect,” he said. “But when you look at the overall American force pool that’s available out there, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps.”

General Abizaid also publicly said for the first time that the American position in Iraq had been undermined by the Bush administration’s decision not to deploy a larger force to stabilize the country in 2003. That decision was made after Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff at the time, told Congress that several hundred thousand troops would be needed. His testimony was derided by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and the general was ostracized at the Pentagon before his retirement a few months later.

“General Shinseki was right that a greater international force contribution, U.S. force contribution and Iraqi force contribution should have been available immediately after major combat operations,” General Abizaid said. “I think you can look back and say that more American troops would have been advisable in the early stages of May, June, July.”

In other words the CENTCOM commander and I are in agreement-the armed forces are not big enough to sustain an effort that will go on and has gone on for a long time-not without really hurting security some place else.

That was Rummy's #1 job as Secretary of Defense. We are where we are now partly because the services are not big enough to handle all the commitments on their plate and have continued to grow since 9-11. To the contrary, DOD has resisted over and over again expanding the Army, its cutting the Navy and the Air Force and it cannot afford even what it is buying. You don't have to take my word for it, ask Gen Shoomaker about the Army's budget this year. You don't do more with less, you do less with less, you do more with more.

Perhaps we should ask the Washington Times if the Navy has enough anti-submarine warfare ships?

We are what we repeatedly do. ~ Aristotle.


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