Sunday, January 14, 2007

Afterword--Rumsfeld redux

Yesterday's post, dealing at length with the plans for more troops in Iraq, appears below. In it, I pointed out (as no one else seems to have) that the new plan almost exactly follows Stephen Hadley's famous memorandum of early November, which called for filling the "five-brigade gap" in Baghdad in order to give Prime Minister Maliki the courage to assert his leadership and change his policies. But another thought occurred to me while tramping on the Appalachian trail this morning: that it is entirely possible that Donald Rumsfeld was eased out because he refused to authorize more troops for Iraq. Bob Woodward's book reported many occasions on which Rumsfeld insisted that the Iraqis had to manage their affairs themselves, and he must have had some idea of the damage the war is doing to the military. Robert Gates apparently had to commit himself to success in Iraq in order to replace him. This raises an ironic parallel with Robert McNamara, who was eased out in late 1967 because he no longer believed in the Vietnam conflict--even though few, in any observers realized that at the time. Rumsfeld certainly deserved to go, but he may ironically have been standing in the way of escalation in Iraq.


Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Hope the trek was good!

I think thats an interesting idea - but in the end I believe that Rumsfeld's departure was driven more by appeasment (to the electoral defeat) and IMO by the fact that, with an incoming Democratic Congress, while the administration won't give an inch on its goals (executive privalege) that the 'optics' of Rumsfeld before oversite committees was too much to accept.

Simply his personality and his visage both would have made going forward impossible - he was used to barking at Congress/media/etc. and couldn't take the lashing that administration flunkies increasingly will over the next two years.

John Measor

RoseCovered Glasses said...

It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments and so much beaurocracy that no president, including Bush totally understands it.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exhorbitant in tems of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years. What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establshment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.

Please examine the following link to testimony given by Franklin C. Spinney before Congress in 2002. It provides very specific information from a whistle blower who is still blowing his whistle (Look him up in your browser and you get lots of feedback) Frank spent the same amount of time as I did in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) but in government quarters. His job in government was a similar role to mine in defense companies. Frank's emphasis in this testimony is on the money the machine costs us. It is compelling and it is noteworthy that he was still a staff analyst at the Pentagon when he gave this speech. I still can't figure out how he got his superior's permission to say such blunt things. He was extremely highly respected and is now retired.

The brick wall I often refer to is the Pentagon's own arrogance. It will implode by it's own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at on this blog entitled, "Odyssey of Armaments"

Of further interest are the following:

Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Prof Kaiser:

I thought Rumsfeld was eased out also, but because he was too chummy and sympathetic with some of the unhappier generals...personal bonds do form...and Bush didn't want a Secretary of Defense carrying a brief for discontent at the top

Strangely, I had a dream that I was at a cocktail party and struck up a conversation with Gates. I asked him why he was selected and if he represented a shift in thinking by the administration. He broke into a broad grin, and said: "No change, Nur, but the President likes my smile".