The Corner

Free Fall

Another day, another explosive classified leak published in the New York Times.

This time, it’s a November memo from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to the White House, urging a complete rethinking of military strategy in Iraq.  The Times today publishes the classified memo in conjunction with its page-one story.

The memo itself is extraordinarily interesting, even to us non-military types, especially given (a) how little regard Sec’y Rumsfeld seems to have for a lot of the strategy either currently being employed or likely to be proposed by the Iraq Study Group; and (b) how Rumsfeld seems a lot more interested in quick strike capability against al Qaeda and Iran elements than having U.S. forces enmeshed in Iraq’s sectarian infighting.  It will be a lot more interesting to get analysis from people like Mac Owens, Jim Robbins and Fred Kagan — who actually know what they’re talking about in this regard — than from me.

My strictly non-military observation, based on many years in government, is:  We appear to be in for two years of increasing dysfunction. 

If high officials — in wartime, no less – figure they better not give their best, most candid advice on sensitive, publicly-charged issues because opposing policy factions are going to leak each other’s memos to the press, the initiative and creativity of the smart people we want in government is stifled.  And the leaks will be used to portray the administration as disintegrating into rancorous chaos, which avalanche feeds on itself.

Like watching a train-wreck in slow motion.

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