Rumsfeld’s Shocking Memo;
Over 100 Dead in Sectarian Violence
The NYT has gotten hold of a memo by Donald Rumsfeld detailing options on Iraq.
Several things struck me about it:
1. Rumsfeld doesn’t understand the magnitude of the crisis or the tightrope the US is walking in the Gulf. His attitude is almost lackadaisical. Doing an all right job, but it isn’t working fast enough or well enough. So maybe make some changes– apparently any old changes will do because there are infinite lives to play with and infinite monies to spend.
2. Rumsfeld spends more time plotting out how to manipulate the American public than how to win the war. Everything is about spin, about giving the image of progress even in the face of a rapid downward spiral into the abyss. Consider these phrases:
‘ Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi Government and the U.S. — political, economic and security goals — to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made) . . .
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.”
Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist. . . ‘
It is about how we talk, how we are perceived to set goals, what is made to look like progress. It isn’t actually about getting progress. The point of going minimalist is to reduce expectations among the American public. If you tell them you can only move the ball a yard, you get a lot of points for moving it two yards.
There is nothing in the memo about effectively stopping the daily sectarian massacre in Iraq. Rumsfeld does not even appear to think there is a problem here. He doesn’t see the basis on which the fabric of Iraq is coming apart. But God forbid he should be seen by the US public as failing. So let’s set some vague “benchmarks” and make it look like progress is being made.
3. Rumsfeld openly admits that he wants to run Iraq just like Saddam did:
‘ Provide money to key political and religious leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period. ‘
I mean, bribing people to be your puppets is bad enough, but citing Saddam’s policies as an example for how Iraq should be run is absolutely outrageous. Not only did Rumsfeld want to manipulate the American public with phony “benchmarks” and “minimalist” language, but he wanted to directly manipulate Iraqis by buying off their notables.
The specifically military suggestions in the memo are all over the map. In addition to a lot of contradictory and not obviously effective politicies, he steals ideas from Democratic Senators and Congressmen.
Three major car bombings and mortar attacks in Shiite neighborhoods of the capital left at least 51 dead. In addition,44 bodies were discovered on Saturday. Reuters reports 13 other deaths around the country in political violence and more dozens wounded. One of the dead was a US soldier in al-Anbar Province.
In addition, an assassination attempt was made on secular Sunni politician Salih Mutlak, which he blamed on Shiites.