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May 7, 2004
NYT: Rumsfeld As Proxy For Bush

Today's New York Times editorial continues their fact-challenged series this week by demanding the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. The Times doesn't justify the demand through the revelations of abuse, whose nature surfaced this week in photographs through CBS News, but which had already been under investigation for months by Rumsfeld's Department of Defense. Instead, the editorial castigates Rumsfeld for the entire war in Iraq in a blistering but essentially empty-headed screed in which the name Rumsfeld obviously stands in for Bush.

Even the first two sentences show the hypocrisy and obstinacy of the Times editorial writers:

There was a moment about a year ago, in the days of "Mission Accomplished," when Donald Rumsfeld looked like a brilliant tactician. American troops the lean, mean fighting machine Mr. Rumsfeld assembled swept into Baghdad with a speed that surprised even the most optimistic hawks.

I believe that came directly after the brilliant military strategists at Times, and most of the mainstream media, declared that the Coalition troops had bogged down in the Iraqi desert and that Rumsfeld clearly didn't have a war plan, didn't it?

This is far from a case of a fine cabinet official undone by the actions of a few obscure bad apples in the military police. Donald Rumsfeld has morphed, over the last two years, from a man of supreme confidence to arrogance, then to almost willful blindness. With the approval of the president, he sent American troops into a place whose nature and dangers he had apparently never bothered to examine.

What nonsense. The DoD as well as State did extensive examinations and war-gaming on Iraq and had done so going back two administrations. Not only did they study it, the US experienced it first-hand in the first Gulf War, although the remainder of the experience during that conflict showed what happened when that grand UN-based coalition handcuffed the US from finishing the job. The dangers of insurgency were well-known and the planning for them at least adequate. In a year of occupation, there have been two revolts, both of which have been minor. The more serious one, in Najaf, has been handled with patience and skill as the CPA has engaged the Shi'ite majority to work against the radical cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, and in fact a Shi'ite militia friendly to the CPA has sprung up to resist al-Sadr's own forces in Najaf and Kufa.

In fact, that wargaming and planning caused a scandal when Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke both claimed it took up most of the Bush administration's attention after 9/11. The Times has already pontificated about the supposed distraction this caused. So which is it -- did they plan too much or too little?

We now know that no one with any power in the Defense Department had a clue about what the administration was getting the coalition forces into. Mr. Rumsfeld's blithe confidence that he could run his war on the cheap has also seriously harmed the Army and the National Guard.

Skipping the Howard Dean-style hyperbole, the second sentiment -- that the DoD has not committed enough troops to the effort -- may be true, although I'm not a military planner, and neither are the Times' editorial writers. However, that is a policy issue, not grounds for dismissal or impeachment, as Congressman Charles Rangel suggested for Rumsfeld if his resignation was not forthcoming.

And now let's address the disgusting spectacle at Abu Ghraib, which no American minimizes, by reviewing another incident from another war. When General George Patton twice slapped enlisted men for suffering from shell-shock and getting hospital treatment, newspapers were outraged. One well-known editorial cartoon showed Patton stomping on a frightened GI, with a Nazi swastika on his boot. Despite these incidents being a contravention of rules and centuries-old tradition of respect towards the American enlisted man, no serious person called for the resignation or removal of Dwight Eisenhower, Patton's CO, or George Marshall, the Chief of Staff. They did call for Patton's removal -- and blood -- but Eisenhower wisely shelved Patton until after D-Day, when Patton's brilliance played a major role in the defeat of the Nazis.

We are at war, and removing the main strategist of that war because people several levels below him broke the law makes no sense. I notice that the editorial board and the publisher are still intact at the Times, even after their editor-in-chief promoted and protected a reporter who repeatedly and obviously faked his stories. What happened to punishing the people responsible for the acts, or does that only apply to the Times? It is the measure of the Times' lack of seriousness that they fail to consider the impact of Rumsfeld's resignation when American troops are under fire.

In the future, perhaps the Times and their compatriots on the left will have the courage to attack Bush frontally, rather than using his advisors as punching bags, as they manage to do with Paul Wolfowitz briefly during this rant. Quit focusing on apologies and resignations and start realizing that we are fighting a war.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 7, 2004 7:07 AM

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» It's Not About Rummy from LeatherPenguin Blog
And it's not about what happened at Abu Ghraib, either. It's about the anti-Bush brigade seeing a perceived opportunity to beat down Dubya's polling numbers, and maybe cripple his re-election... [Read More]

Tracked on May 7, 2004 8:25 AM

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