Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rumsfeld's memo

With the elections of November 2006 - and thus the need to politicize so much of its rhetoric - over, it is becoming more and more clear what a mess the Bush administration has made of the Iraq situation, and how much of the election rhetoric has been disingenuous and political in nature.

And now this has been made startlingly clear in the leaked Rumsfeld memo. I have read the memo and it is absolutely shocking, when you consider that it was written one day before the elections.

While - and perhaps even on the same day - Bush was shouting “stay the course!”, Rumsfeld was writing: In my view it is time for a major adjustment.

With Bush insisting “we are winning and we will win”, Rumsfeld was writing: clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.

The Democrats were being accused of “cut and run”, and of therefore not wanting us to win in Iraq because they were suggesting withdrawal. Rumsfeld was writing: conduct an accelerated draw-down of U.S. bases. We have already reduced from 110 to 55 bases. Plan to get down to 10 to 15 bases by April 2007, and to 5 bases by July 2007 and begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start “taking our hand off the bicycle seat”), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country.

While Saddam Hussein was being sentenced to death, Rumsfeld proposed the following: provide money to key political and religious leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period.

The cynicism of these statements is breathtaking in the light of almost 3000 U.S. soldiers dead: Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis. This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not “lose” (quotation marks are Rumsfeld's).

Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist.

And the final below-the belt-blow to his credibility, that of the Bush administration and the honor of those who suffered and died in Iraq is his “less attractive option”: Continue on the current path. Those who wanted to consider another course in Iraq were painted as unpatriotic, while the Secretary of Defense is calling "stay the course" a less attractive option.

It would, of course, be doubly cynical if the White House was using this memo and other "leaks" occuring now to prepare the ground for a change of rhetoric and stance. I remember when Bush declared that leaks would not be tolerated in his administration. Now he's not saying anything.

I saw John Kerry live on CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. He was very articulate and knowledgeable. He could speak easily of the different factions vying for power in Iraq, and of the difference between Persians and Arabs.

I’ll bet 99% of the American public couldn’t follow what Kerry was saying, including George Bush.

You certainly never hear George Bush speaking with any kind of sophistication about these complex and extremely important matters. ("One has a stronger hand when there's more people playing your same cards.")

If I had to choose between which evil was worse, this mess in Iraq or getting a blow job in the Oval Office, the choice would be easy.

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