I think Donald Rumsfeld is substantially responsible for many of the most vexing problems facing the United States today in the Middle East, but George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney trump him on the accountability front.
However, a classified memo has been leaked to the media in which Rumsfeld personally advised the President to do the following:
1. Boost the number of trainers of Iraqi security forces and supply more equipment.
2. Decrease America’s 55 bases in Iraq to 5 by July 2007.
3. Provide security only in cities that actively cooperate with the U.S.
4. Focus reconstruction efforts on cooperative regions — get out of the uncooperative, turbulent regions.
5. Use U.S. forces to stop infiltration of borders by Syria and Iran.
6. Begin modest withdrawals of US forces to nudge the Iraqis to take more responsiblity.
7. Provide money to religious leaders to get them to be more cooperative with collaborative American-Iraqi interests
8. Get a jobs program going for Iraqi youth
9. Annouce that the U.S. is embarking on a “new approach”.
10, And understand that change is needed and that one of the less attactive options is “staying the course”.
This is another remarkable Rumsfeld memo.
Remember the Rumsfeld memo long ago that asked whether American policy was leading anywhere and whether American actions were possibly helping to generate more extremists and terrorists rather than less? Rumsfeld asked all of the right questions then — but in his vaunted position as Secretary of Defense seemed to do very little to respond constructively to the key questions he himself posed.
Rumsfeld’s latest memo anticipates some of the positions that the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group will take as well as some of what Senator Carl Levin and other Members of Congress calling for troop withdrawals to begin.
I just watched “The Fog of War” the other night. It’s a brilliant, important film — and Donald Rumsfeld bears an uncanny resemblance in looks and demeanor to Robert McNamara. But clearly, Rumsfeld and his pal, Dick Cheney, and boss, George W. Bush, ignored the lessons that might have been learned from Vietnam and America.
Rumsfeld is guilty for his complicity in duping and lying to the American public about the Iraq War and for failing to take the responsibility for Guantanamo, Haditha, Abu Ghraib, and the shortage of body armor for U.S. soldiers — among many other bad decisions.
But he is the modern McNamara who was and is smart enough — as seen by this and previous leaked memos — to see the right course but did nothing substantial to move a President who was making horrible decisions in a less destructive direction.
— Steve Clemons
P.S. I’m traveling tonight and tomorrow to Dubai via Kuwait and will be at the Arab Strategy Forum and engaged in various meetings around the UAE all next week.