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VDH and Friedman on Rumsfeld
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First, Tom Friedman:

Why, in the face of rampant looting in the war's aftermath, which dug us into such a deep and costly hole, wouldn't Mr. Rumsfeld put more troops into Iraq? Politics. First of all, Rummy wanted to crush once and for all the Powell doctrine, which says you fight a war like this only with overwhelming force. I know this is hard to believe, but the Pentagon crew hated Colin Powell, and wanted to see him humiliated 10 times more than Saddam. Second, Rummy wanted to prove to all those U.S. generals whose Army he was intent on downsizing that a small, mobile, high-tech force was all you needed today to take over a country.

So Friedman's verdict? Fire Rumsfeld.

And now, Victor Davis Hanson:

The idea that anyone would suggest that Donald Rumsfeld and now Richard Meyers! should step down, in the midst of a global war, for the excesses and criminality of a handful of miscreant guards and their lax immediate superiors in the cauldron of Iraq is absurd and depressing all at once.


Rumsfeld and Meyers have presided over two amazingly successful wars. In an aggregate of 11 weeks, and at the tragic cost of 700 combat dead, the American military defeated the two worst regimes in the Middle East and stayed on to implant democratic change where no such idea has ever existed.


Winners usually loot the infrastructure of the losing side. They are rarely confronted with the sudden specter of the defeated carting away their own national treasure at the first sign of magnanimity, while global television both damns the Americans for allowing it to happen and warns them not to "shoot civilians" to prevent it.

True. And though Rumsfeld has pointed out time and again in press conferences, there was substantial planning for a refugee crisis (that never happened), the mass torching of Iraq's oil wells (that never happened), and civil war between Iraqi ethnic groups (that never happened). So we rake them over the coals for not developing a strategy to stop indigenous looting? Oh wouldn't have taken a strategy, according to Friedman, just more troops. And what, exactly, would those troops have done? For some reason I suspect that if Rumsfeld and Myers had adjusted the rules of engagement to allow soldiers to shoot people carrying office furniture, rather than AK47s, world opinion, and Tom Friedman, would not have been very supportive.

I have to admit being a bit tired of the cry for more troops in Iraq, and the cry that there should have been more troops in Iraq, as if it's some sort of panacea. More troops does not necessarily automatically equal peace and stability. There has to actually be a strategic context in which those troops are used. If you're willing to use force to stop looting, say so. But yelling "More troops!" seems like a ridiculously facile response.

Yes, the prison abuses are a black eye on America and our armed forces, but the process of investigation, punishment, and reform was well under way before the photos were released to the public.

I tend to agree, in this case, with VDH. Friedman's arguments seem simplistic and lacking in any kind of reasoned substance.

But hey...if you really think Rumsfeld should go, in about six months you've got the chance to kick out the entire administration.

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