Sunday, January 14, 2007
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.