The Corner

will on rumsfeld

George Will (seee homepage for link) finds an admirable Rumsfeld moment in State of Denial

The book actually includes one heartening story that should enhance Rumsfeld’s reputation. On Veterans Day 2005, the president traveled to a Pennsylvania Army depot to deliver a speech announcing the new military policy for Iraq, the policy of “clear, hold and build.” Woodward says Rumsfeld, having read the speech, called Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, a half-hour before Bush was to deliver it, and said, “Take that out.” Card replied that the three words were the centerpiece of the speech, not to mention the war strategy. Rumsfeld replied, “Clear, we’re doing. It’s up to the Iraqis to hold. And the State Department’s got to work with somebody on the build.”

At last, a division of labor that uses the U.S. military only for properly military purposes and assigns responsibilities in a way that will force Iraq’s government to grow up. In the name of counterinsurgency, there has been too much of what today’s military argot calls “full-spectrum operations” — operations that go beyond killing insurgents to building schools, connecting sewers and other civil projects that keep the training wheels on the Iraqi government’s bicycle and keep the United States chasing the chimera of “nation-building.

This sounds admirably hard-headed, but if all our military can do is kill people and break things, it will never beat any insurgencies and we should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan right now. And would that the problem in Iraq were as easy as simply forcing the Iraqi government to “grow up.”

[Here’s Lowry on Woodward & Rumsfeld — Ed.]

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