"If only there were a little less scapegoating of the wrong man, Donald Rumsfeld, who was one of the least enthusiastic and least messianic and most eager, among the main participants in what turned out to be, but did not have to be (and still doesn't, if "victory" is interpreted to mean leaving Iraq in a state which will inevitably cause those sectarian and ethnic divisions to flourish, thereby dividing and demoralizing and weakening the Camp of Islam)to leave Iraq. One had the feeling that Rumsfeld never wanted the troops to stay, and he seldom engaged in the kind of rhetoric about "freedom" that Bush and Rice and Cheney all indulged in.
When will "victory" be defined correctly? When will this nonsense about abhorring "instability" and about the need to "avoid the catastrophe of civil war" stop, and sensible people see how this is not to be deplored, but to be received with grim, and growing, satisfaction." [Posted by Hugh at November 10, 2006]
-- from this posting put up the day after Rumsfeld submitted his resignation
Those who were raised in the Cold War, those who were handed, that is, the pieties and certainties of that war and did not have to learn or think for themselves overmuch, have demonstrated their limits. However well-spoken they may be (and Rumsfeld is well-spoken and far more intelligent than Bush, Rice, or most of the others), they have been raised in an environment where completely independent thought simply is hard to find.
And they are busy, busy, busy. Those reports. Those endless meetings. Those more reports. Those bullets. What in god's name did Rumsfeld, the smartest of the lot, understand about Islam and about the idiocy of the phrase "war on terror"? What did Rumsfeld, the smartest of the lot, understand about how the Muslim Arabs (the Kurds are a special case, because they were grateful for past protection, and eager for future support protection that can only come from the United States) were inevitably going to treat their "liberators" after a short while? What did he know about the Sunnis and the Shi'a, and how everything that has happened has happened inevitably, was perfectly predictable (and was, at this website and JW, predicted and predicted and predicted)? What does Rumsfeld, know about the notion of Jihad, and of the instruments of Jihad?
Perhaps, now that he is out of office, Rumsfeld will start to learn, and without having to get up at 4 a.m. to be driven into the Pentagon, to work all day without ever taking the time that he long ago should have taken, and so should they all, to study quietly, to read quietly, about Islam -- starting let's say with Bat Ye'or's "The Dhimmi" and "Islam and Dhimmitude" (he can read them, he's the smartest of the lot), and the books intended for a mass audience by Robert Spencer, including "The Myth of Islamic Tolerance" and "Onward, Muslim Soldiers" and his "Muhammad," and Ibn Warraq's "Why I Am Not a Muslim," and then to the anthology "The Legacy of Jihad" and to keep going, not to stop, until finally the scales fall from his eyes, and he sees that the goal should never have been Iraq the Model, Iraq the Light Unto the Muslim Nations, but rather a single and unswerving goal by the Americans and its remaining allies and others that might be allies yet again: to weaken the Camp of Islam, and to do it by dividing and demoralizing that camp, playing upon the pre-existing divisions, the three main ones being sectarian (Sunni and Shi'a), and ethnic (Arab and non-Arab) and economic (the Muslims with vast unmerited wealth, and the Muslims who have no oil or gas deposits). Two of these divisions present themselves in Iraq today. The Administration -- whose smartest member was Rumsfeld, remember -- keeps taking as its goal, declaring as its definition of "victory" -- exactly the wrong thing.
Rumsfeld now has time to learn all that, and to start with a little mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, about this, and then to go around and explain, in the corridors of power, just how wrong he -- and all the others -- were. He is much more intelligent and articulate than Bush. He owes the country, after his participation in this Big (and nearly universal, because the assumptions about the nature and severity of the threat were, and remain, also completely misunderstood by the opposition to Bush) Mistake, a Big Correction.
Rumsfeld was not to be faulted for this or that tactical error. Those who like those chocolate soldiers Kristol and Kagan (the egg on their faces cannot be wiped off, and shouldn't be) keep arguing for more troops to be sent now, or those who keep saying that "if only" Rumsfeld had sent a half-million men earlier on, everything would have gone according to Bush's plan, are wrong. Once the Sunni despotism of Saddam Hussein was removed, there was never a chance that the Shi'a would accept anything but what they have steadily been achieving, and which, by rights, they deserve: control of the political and economic resources of a country in which they constitute 65% of the population, and under whose territories all of the Arab oil wealth (the rest belongs, or should, to the Kurds) in Iraq can be found. And once that occurred, it was also inevitable, and would not have been changed by a larger American force (such a force might have seemed, at first, to "defeat the insurgency" but that "insurgency" was endlessly replenishable unless the Americans were somehow, without a draft, to send several million men and to remain for several generations. It makes and made no sense).
It is not on tactics that Donald Rumsfeld should be faulted. It is on not even on his initial trust in others who impressed him but should not have impressed him, such as Paul Wolfowitz, someone who never understood the significance of culture and ideology, and who, for reasons that may also have to do with a sentimentalism exhibited by too many of those "supporters of Israel" who did not want to believe that Islam was the problem, and who took such pride in their own friendships with utterly unrepresentative Muslims, Muslims of the Muslim-for-identification-purposes Muslims, such as Chalabi, Ambassador Francke, or in Wolfowitz's case, a great and good female friend who represented, for him -- so misleadingly -- the world of Islamic "reform" and Islamic "possibilities" that stand in the way of an unsentimental approach to the matter, which requires that Islam itself be seen, unblinkered, as the problem.
Rumsfeld, free of those meetings and all that hectic vacancy, can now turn his attention to learning that he made not so much a tactical mistake as a strategic one. He agreed with the others. He didn't see, sufficiently, that Bush has turned into what he always was, an inflexible, because not nearly intelligent enough, Capt. Queeg on a listing ship of state. Rumsfeld, out of office, can now study and utter, not the way McNamara did a quarter-century later, but in a few months, even early next year, a Mea Culpa about his own ignorance of Islam and of Iraq (including the Sunni-Shi'a divide that would not, could not, conceivably be healed by the Americans, nor should the Americans, if they had their wits about them, wish to do so).
Those who continue to argue that more troops would have made a difference, or would so now -- such as Generals Kristol and Kagan -- also miss the point about both the proper goal to be sought, the victory to be plucked from Tarbaby Iraq, and about out of the Iraq tarbaby. Those who merely argue for a "course correction" are also off. Something entirely different, based on an entirely different comprehension of what is going on with the world-wide Jihad, and on an understanding of what needs to be done to provide a Demonstration Project or two of a country, or people, on Islam, in order to remedy the palpable, perceived weakness of the West, held in check, especially in its domestic arrangements, by its own mind-forged manacles.
Something needs to be done beyond a mere "course correction." Something much bigger. Despite being demonized, Rumsfeld is one of the few who, one suspects, still has his wits intact. He can help. He should try. He owes it to the country.