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January 7, 2005
Rumsfeld Wants Another Set Of Eyes On Iraq

One of the recent memes abounding on the Left these days is that George Bush and his administration surrounds itself with "yes-men", people who agree so closely with Bush's policies that Bush gets no dissenting information. (They also claim he's a puppet, which seems a bit contradictory to me.) The biggest issue for this meme is the war on terror and specifically in the Iraq theater, where Democrats claim the administration has lost touch with reality.

Those people should delight in the presence of Donald Rumsfeld if that is what they believe. The Defense Secretary has selected a retired four-star general, Gary E. Luck, to take a team of analysts into Iraq and perform an open-ended review of the situation and progress there:

The Pentagon is sending a retired four-star Army general to Iraq next week to conduct an unusual "open-ended" review of the military's entire Iraq policy, including troop levels, training programs for Iraqi security forces and the strategy for fighting the insurgency, senior Defense Department officials said Thursday.

The extraordinary leeway given to the highly regarded officer, Gen. Gary E. Luck, a former head of American forces in South Korea and currently a senior adviser to the military's Joint Forces Command, underscores the deep concern by senior Pentagon officials and top American commanders over the direction that the operation in Iraq is taking, and its broad ramifications for the military, said some members of Congress and military analysts. ...

At a meeting Thursday with his top military and civilian aides, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld instructed that General Luck look at all areas of the operation, identify any weaknesses and report back in a few weeks with a confidential assessment, senior defense officials said.

"He will have a very wide canvas to draw on," said Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon spokesman. Mr. Di Rita emphasized that Mr. Rumsfeld was very satisfied with his commanders in Iraq, but wanted to give them all the help they needed in assessing "the very dynamic situation."

Rumsfeld likes to shake things up and keep the thinking fresh. This effort allows him to get another perspective from the ground on the issues our troops and our Iraqi allies face, and to recast expectations and plans for continued progress. It's not, as this somewhat hyperventilating report suggests, an imminent sign of collapse in Iraq, although it's certainly no vote of confidence either.

Perhaps the American media can make up its mind about what it wants to see from the Bush administration. On one hand, it complains when policymakers stick to a planned strategy, and on the other it gets hysterical when they adjust tactics to meet that strategy -- or in this case, simply start a review of tactics.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 7, 2005 7:02 AM

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