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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Battle Rumsfeld - Challenger - First Rebuttal

Click below to hear my rebuttal.
Ara3.jpg

Listen to Ara

(Audio by InstantAudio)

Transcript

No, Rosemary, I don't want to burn Sec. Rumsfeld at the stake as a witch, nor do I want to administer another spanking in addition to the one you say he's already received. If you think that's what I want, well, I'm sorry.

The fact is, Donald Rumsfeld is not a god, nor is he a devil. He is simply a public servant who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career of serving our country. Now, as before, he serves at the pleasure of the President. And what this really means is that he works for you and me.

Now, I have a particular perspective on this. If you'll indulge me for a moment, I'd like to tell you about it.

At various times in my career, I've been a business owner, executive, manager and employee. I've learned the importance of being accountable for the job you are entrusted to perform. And if you can't do the job, then you must be removed in favor of someone who can get the job done.

Bottom line? No one -- NO ONE -- is indispensable. No one is bigger than the organization. Granted some people are harder to replace than others, but if the organization, any organization, is to survive, then it is incumbent on the owners (that's you and me) to exercise their due diligence for the greater good of the establishment.

It is this standard that brings me to the reluctant conclusion that Sec. Rumsfeld should be relieved of duty.

Some of you might be asking: What was his crime?

He committed no crime greater than failing to get the job done. And because the stakes are so high and the result so crucial, he must do the right thing and resign or be fired.

Some may say, "War is uncertain...all plans go out the window when the shooting starts...intelligence is open to interpretation...mistakes are made..." and so forth and so on. And these are all good and valid points. War IS uncertain. Events DO have a way of getting away from you. Intelligence CAN turn out to be smoke and mirrors. And perhaps most important of all, public opinion CAN turn against you, putting your own position of authority in jeopardy.

Given the high level of authority Sec. Rumsfeld has enjoyed during his distinguished career, one must wonder if he had learned these lessons. But whether he did or not, those around him counseled him along those lines.

In just one such example, General Shinseki advocated for a force perhaps double the size of the one we went in with. Paul Wolfowitz, Sec. Rumsfeld’s deputy, dismissed this counsel. It doesn’t take much to conclude that Sec. Rumsfeld concurred with Wolfowitz.

Some said that Gen. Shinseki's suggested troop levels were greater than all the available US troops at the time. Yet even can now be seen as a warning sign that perhaps the war was ill-planned. In any case, events have proven that Shinsecki was more right than Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld combined.

Of course the most famous bit of ignored advice was not even offered by an individual so much as a set of guidelines supposedly authored by Sec. Rumsfeld’s Cabinet colleague, Sec. Of State Colin Powell. The Powell Doctrine states:
  • Military action should be used only as a last resort and only if there is a clear risk to national security by the intended target;
  • The force, when used, should be overwhelming and disproportionate to the force used by the enemy;
  • There must be strong support for the campaign by the general public;
  • And there must be a clear exit strategy from the conflict in which the military is engaged.
Almost every one of the Powell Doctrine’s points was ignored or papered over, with one exception: when the war with Iraq was launched it was supported strongly by the public.

But now, one year later, even that is now gone.

Perhaps thinking of the Powell Doctrine Sen. Biden said, "Had we gone down through northern Iraq with the 4th ID, there would be no Sunni Triangle. Had we had more troops in there from the beginning, as Shinsecki suggested, there would not have been the looting. Had the troops been there, they would have had tons and tons of more weapons." And Senator Biden isn't alone in making this observation.

Some would say, "Woulda, coulda, shoulda." Some would contend that "Saddam was Saddam," meaning that we didn't have the luxury or the ability to raise our own troop levels to the necessary point fast enough. Saddam was a gathering threat, one that might attack us or our allies with chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons. It's beyond the scope of this rebuttal to start a debate on existence of WMD. So let's stipulate that Sec. Rumsfeld surveyed ALL the risks and then launched the war using his best judgement.

Unfortunately his judgement wasn't good enough to prevent us from having come here, to this precarious point, in danger of losing the war.

Now, Rosemary, I know you believe that I'm a "Bush-basher." Maybe some of you reading this are going to discount my words simply because I am challenging the popular Queen of All Evil herself.

That's fine; but don't just take my word for it that Rumsfeld's stewardship of the war has led us to a place of looming catastrophe?

Listen to any number of respected conservatives...Listen to David Brooks:
Believe me, we've got even bigger problems than whether Rumsfeld keeps his job. We've got the problem of defining America's role in the world from here on out, because we are certainly not going to put ourselves through another year like this anytime soon. No matter how Iraq turns out, no president in the near future is going to want to send American troops into any global hot spot. This experience has been too searing.
And that is too bad because there are heinous, brutal terrorists out there. We need to apply every ounce of our minds and our machines to crush them.

But even after all that, one must wonder if we are prepared for what comes next. Listen to George Will:
This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts....Being steadfast in defense of carefully considered convictions is a virtue. Being blankly incapable of distinguishing cherished hopes from disappointing facts, or of reassessing comforting doctrines in face of contrary evidence, is a crippling political vice.
Andrew Sullivan is also pretty glum:
The one anti-war argument that, in retrospect, I did not take seriously enough was a simple one. It was that this war was noble and defensible but that this administration was simply too incompetent and arrogant to carry it out effectively. I dismissed this as facile Bush-bashing at the time. I was wrong.

I sensed the hubris of this administration after the fall of Baghdad, but I didn't sense how they would grotesquely under-man the post-war occupation, bungle the maintenance of security, short-change an absolutely vital mission, dismiss constructive criticism, ignore even their allies (like the Brits), and fail to shift swiftly enough when events spun out of control.
Fareed Zakaria:
On almost every issue involving postwar Iraq—troop strength, international support, the credibility of exiles, de-Baathification, handling Ayatollah Ali Sistani—Washington's assumptions and policies have been wrong. By now most have been reversed, often too late to have much effect. This strange combination of arrogance and incompetence has not only destroyed the hopes for a new Iraq. It has had the much broader effect of turning the United States into an international outlaw in the eyes of much of the world.
Lastly, Robert Kagan and William Kristol, writing in the Weekly Standard:
The Bush administration seems not to recognize how widespread, and how bipartisan, is the view that Iraq is already lost or on the verge of being lost. The administration therefore may not appreciate how close the whole nation is to tipping decisively against the war.
Will the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld help or hurt the situation? Many have pointed out that there is no way that the Democrats in Congress would confirm a new Secretary of Defense during a campaign season; and if they did, there is no way that this new Secretary would have the ability to get up to speed. And if he could get up to speed there is no way he could match the brillance and conviviality of Donald Rumsfeld.

Whether any of that is true or not, I cannot predict. But I do know that these are not adequate reasons to do nothing at all. Because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. And the past behavior of Donald Rumsfeld has brought us to the edge of defeat in Iraq.

Donald Rumsfeld must go.

Ara Rubyan
E Pluribus Unum
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