The Corner

Subject: Rumsfeld



I think some of your criticisms of Rumsfeld are misplaced. The whole question of troop levels is always debatable. Rumsfeld was quite correct to question whether we needed 500,000 troops to get to Baghdad, given that the Iraqi Army was about one third to one quarter of what it was in 1991. I should point out that sending more troops is no guarantee of victory. In fact, it would give Iraqis even less incentive to fight for their own country. They would be perfectly happy to let us do it.

By the time of OIF, Shinseki had no credibility. He was disloyal to Rumsfeld, back dooring the SecDef by running to Daniel Inoue (then Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, thanks to Jim Jeffords) in order to rescue an undeployable monstrosity of a weapons system, called the Crusader, which Rumsfeld had correctly decided to cancel. That strategy was good for Shinseki, only until the Republicans won back the Senate and Shinseki lost his political cover. Rumsfeld was quite correct to in effect sack Shinseki, who had engaged in behavior that he himself would never have tolerated in a subordinate. Finally, sending 3,000,000,000,000 men was the only solution Shinseki ever proposed for ANY problem, knowing it would be a non starter. Richard Schulze noted that this was the way Shinseki and Henry Shelton were able to tell the Clinton Administration “we don’t do windows.” Any plan to try and get bin Laden in Afghanistan during the 1990s using Special Forces was met by a “no, this is too risky” response, followed by, let’s send 100,000 men, knowing that it would be a political non-starter. Sending 100,000 men to Afghanistan was also Shinseki’s response to 9/11, thus replicating the Russian experience. It was also the kind of thinking that interested neither Rumsfeld nor Tommy Franks. I should also point out many of the retired flags such as Shinseki, Zinni and Clark, were running the Pentagon when al Qaeda was metastasizing in to the menace that manifested itself on 9/11. None of Clinton’s Sec Defs had the ability to ride herd on these guys. They, however, have never been called to account for their mistakes.

The decision do demobilize the Iraqi Army is non-sense. Any number of people who were there at the time (and I know a good number, working for the Marine Corps) will tell you that there was no Iraqi Army to demobilize. A key mistake was to leave the re-training of the Iraqi Police to the State Department. Also Paul Bremer made himself too much of the focus of the CPA’s doing.

Finally, let us assume that Rumsfeld goes. Who replaces him, especially given what the confirmation process has become. Putting the generals in charge is how we got to 9/11


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