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Many bloggers have written about the leaked Rumsfeld memo published by the New York Times on Friday and confirmed by the Pentagon later the same day, but no one has a better political analysis than Andy McCarthy at NRO's The Corner. Calling this the herald of a "train-wreck" two years of lame-duck status for the Bush administration, McCarthy shows exactly how this will be seen by the people who comprise it:
The memo itself is extraordinarily interesting, even to us non-military types, especially given (a) how little regard Sec'y Rumsfeld seems to have for a lot of the strategy either currently being employed or likely to be proposed by the Iraq Study Group; and (b) how Rumsfeld seems a lot more interested in quick strike capability against al Qaeda and Iran elements than having U.S. forces enmeshed in Iraq's sectarian infighting. ...
If high officials — in wartime, no less — figure they better not give their best, most candid advice on sensitive, publicly-charged issues because opposing policy factions are going to leak each other's memos to the press, the initiative and creativity of the smart people we want in government is stifled. And the leaks will be used to portray the administration as disintegrating into rancorous chaos, which avalanche feeds on itself.
Rumsfeld's memo contains a number of initiatives that could be taken, separately or in combination, that would significantly transform our engagement in Iraq. McCarthy has Rumsfeld's intent correct when he says that the former Secretary of Defense obviously wanted to mostly disengage with nation-building tactics in favor of conserving strength for quick strikes. That goes along with Rumsfeld's vision of a light, mobile, and highly responsive military anyway, and would also serve to reduce American vulnerabilities in Iraq while keeping our options for military operations wide open.
That begs the question: is this why Rumsfeld got fired so abruptly? We have heard from inside sources at the White House that Bush intended on replacing Rumsfeld as far back as mid-summer, which would be around the same time as the new Baghdad strategy failed to show the results we expected. However, two weeks before this memo was written, Bush had publicly endorsed Rumsfeld for two more years of service, despite the obvious political damage that would cause the Republicans in the midterms. Two days after Rumsfeld submitted this memo, he was out of a job.
The Bush administration clearly does not want to change its higher-level strategies in Iraq; Bush has made that clear on the eve of the Baker-Hamilton ISG report. If Rumsfeld hoped to pre-empt the ISG, he may have miscalculated his boss' intentions.
And if that's true, it speaks volumes about what we can expect from Robert Gates.
However, it will be interesting after this memo to see how the press and the Democrats approach Rumsfeld. They have made him the Devil incarnate for the last three years for his prosecution of the war. Now that he has endorsed a lighter approach to Iraq, similar to what the media and the opposition have demanded, will they rehabilitate Rumsfeld as a "wise man" on the war? I suspect they will if the Bush administration continues to remain unwilling to adopt whatever recommendations the ISG provides in their report this week. We will see Rumsfeld interviewed on major talk shows in a much more respectful manner, asked to expand on the thoughts in this memo and his evaluation of why we need a "major adjustment".
In fact, unlike Andy, I suspect that this memo did not get leaked by someone within the Bush administration opposed to Rumsfeld; I suspect it came from Rumsfeld himself, or one of his deputies. Like Andy, I think this signals that we are about to enter a difficult two years for the war on terror.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a good roundup on the subject; be sure to check out all the links.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on December 3, 2006 10:09 AM
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You can read it in full here. It's little more than a laundry list of suggestions about what could be done in Iraq to the improve the situation, some more viable than others. Worth reading, I think, especially in light... [Read More]
Tracked on December 3, 2006 12:33 PM
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Tracked on December 3, 2006 1:17 PM
» The Meaning Of Rumsfeld's Leak from Bill's Bites
Rumsfeld's Parting AdviceJohn Hinderaker Donald Rumsfeld wrote a memo laying out options for Iraq two days before he was sacked. The full text is here. The memo will be spun in the usual ways; the best thing is to read [Read More]
Tracked on December 3, 2006 2:09 PM
Tracked on December 3, 2006 4:59 PM
» The Rumsfeld Memo from Scottish Right
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Tracked on December 3, 2006 6:59 PM
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