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December 20, 2004
Another Point Of View On Rumsfeld

Earlier today, I updated my latest post on the controversy surrounding Donald Rumsfeld with some clarifications. Dafydd ab Hugh, a regular reader and often a vocal CQ critic, sent me a private reply that I found intriguing -- even though Dafydd still disagreed with me. Seeing as how most CQ readers feel I've strayed a bit off the reservation here, I thought you might like to read Dafydd's note, and Dafydd graciously allowed me to post it here.

Dafydd responded to this point in my earlier post:

I disagree strongly with those who believe Rumsfeld is indispensable. I think he's the best man for the job, but no one is indispensable, and the Bush administration should have a succession plan in place in any case. What if Rummy dies of a heart attack tomorrow, or simply decides to retire? If that causes us to lose the war, then our war effort needs serious retooling.

Dafydd replied:

Point-missing alert: if the Donald were to die or resign for, say, health reasons, Bush would be free to pick someone who was basically a Rumsfeld clone, insensitive enough to push critical reform through, even if it ends the careers of fine people. I don't know if such a person exists right now, but Bush would have a free hand to seek him (or her), and the war -- which depends upon us reforming how we think militarily -- would remain winnable.

But if Rumsfeld were forced out via the death of a thousand paper cuts, especially if Republican senators succeeded in ousting him, then his successor would be forced upon Bush by those same rebellious senators: the president would have to name someone who would look to McCain for confirmation every time Bush gave an order. Everything would change.

Forget about reforming the military; that's the main, underlying point of contention here, though nobody on the dump-Rummy side will admit it. They want to go back to what is familiar to them... to massed armies ponderously waddled into place -- a tactic that works well when dealing with a mass invasion of one country by another but is utterly helpless in the situation we're in now and likely will remain in for the forseeable future: fighting a war against stateless terrorists who swarm like angry ants first at one spot then another, who have no territory to conquer, no real command and control structure to disrupt, who consist of a series of disconnected, autonomous cells spread across three quarters of the globe, linked only by shared ideology and the internet.

Yes, in 1990-1991, we sent about half a million men into Kuwait to kick out Hussein. I had to use a range there, two different years, because it took us six months to get them in place in Saudi Arabia prior to the attack, followed by a lengthy aerial bombardment.

You saw what happened in Iraq in 2002-2003 (another range!) when a similar delay was induced by the decision -- taken at the demand of several of these same Republican senators -- that we try to get the U.N.'s blessing: Hussein shifted the WMD stockpiles to Syria, many of the worst terrorists set up bases there (from which they now move into Iraq, organize attacks, and fade to safety again), and a strategy was hatched whereby Hussein's forces faded into the population then turned to insurgency.

We cannot allow such delays in the future. That is exactly why Rumsfeld was opposed to monkeying around with the U.N. in the first place, according to everything I have seen: he knew what a months-long delay would mean, but he was overruled by the president. Now the very thing that Rumsfeld warned about, that Hussein would have too much time to prepare some sort of defense that we could not predict, has come to pass; and the very senators who forced that situation on us are trying to use it to fire the guy who warned against it!

Colin Powell desperately wanted us to go to the U.N. Not because Powell is a bad guy but because he is an unimaginative guy: he cannot envision any other way of fighting a war than to mimic the same strategies and tactics that we used in World War II (and Korea, and Vietnam, and so forth) and that Powell studied at the Army War College. He's good at it, but it's all he knows. To a carpenter, every tool looks like a hammer and every problem like a nail.

So if those who, like Powell, cannot envision fighting the kind of war we need to fight today manage to oust Rumsfeld, they will likewise demand he be replaced with one of them, or at least someone who thinks like they think; and they will have considerably more power and support then than they have now, having proven themselves stronger than Bush: they will get what they want.

And we will lose the war. We will flounder exactly as the Russians did in Afghanistan, and for exactly the same reason: rather than fighting a new style of warfare that keeps the enemy staggering around like a blind hound in a meat shop, we'll be sending well-advertised tank columns through the Khyber Pass to be blown up by the mujahadin.

The McCainiacs, of course, will blame Bush; McCain or his clone will be the next president, and the collapse will accelerate. They will prove to the American people that the Republicans are even worse at dealing with defense and security issues than the Democrats, and we'll have another period of four or five straight presidential victories for Democrats, as we did in 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, and 1948. (And the Democrats probably would have won in 1952, if Eisenhower hadn't run.) This will coincide with a collapse of American power and a retreat into Fortress America, to be hit again and again by terrorists because we're not forward-deploying against them.

That would be a catastrophe, Ed... and nearly all of it would be traceable to Bush having knuckled under to the demands of a bunch of thugs, several of them Republican: that Rumsfeld be ousted because they're more afraid of real reform than they are of an American collapse.

Dafydd makes some great points in this letter. I leave the analysis to our readers.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 20, 2004 6:40 PM

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