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Fooled Again

EDITORIAL / Register-Guard (Eugene, OR) 2sep2006

[More on Bush | Terrorism | 9/11]


What a comfort it is to see that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has such a clear grasp of who the enemy really is in the war on terrorism:

It's anyone who disagrees with him or who is skeptical about the Bush administration's strategy.

Donald Rumsfeld Rummy -- Fooled Again: The War on Terror - EDITORIAL / Register-Guard (Eugene, OR) 2sep2006

In a speech to the American Legion's annual convention in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, the pugnacious Rumsfeld pointedly avoided directly comparing current administration critics with those who sought to appease Germany's new chancellor, Adolf Hitler, prior to the beginning of the Second World War. But he did a fine job of helping his audience of military veterans find their own way to that conclusion.

"Once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," Rumsfeld said. "But some seem not to have learned history's lessons. Can we truly afford to believe that, somehow or some way, vicious extremists could be appeased?"

Rumsfeld left no doubt about the consequences of equivocation. "Moral or intellectual confusion" about which side is right or wrong "can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere," he told the cheering Legionnaires.

Rumsfeld assigned much of the blame for fostering a "blame America first" mentality to cynical and misguided news media that he claimed are routinely manipulated by terrorists. He pointed to the fact that there has been much more coverage of U.S. military abuses than of the heroism and achievements of American troops in Iraq.

This blame-the-messenger tactic never loses its charm for Rumsfeld. But the combative defense secretary would have had a tough time finding an upbeat story to counter Wednesday's carnage in Iraq. At least 52 civilians were blown to bits in two separate bombings Wednesday. More than 200 Iraqis have been killed just since Sunday in bombings or shootings, and 13 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives during the same period.

It's not surprising that Rumsfeld has come out swinging in defense of the administration's war strategy. He's the person most responsible for orchestrating the debacle in Iraq.

Rumsfeld has a prominent role Thomas Ricks' new book "Fiasco." The Pulitzer Prize-winning senior Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post argues that the invasion of Iraq was based on perhaps the worst war plan in American history. With too few troops and no coherent postwar strategy, Ricks says "the U.S. effort resembled a banana republic coup d'etat more than a full-scale war plan that reflected the ambition of a great power to alter the politics of a crucial region of the world."

A leading proponent of the neo-conservative agenda outlined in the Project for the New American Century, Rumsfeld was an early and eager booster of an Iraq invasion. He beat the war drums inside the White House and insisted that U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators in Iraq.

When Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, testified before Congress that it would take "several hundred thousand" U.S. troops to conduct the war in Iraq and carry out the postwar plans, Rumsfeld was reportedly outraged and called Shinseki's estimate "wildly off the mark." As the Iraq war now drags on longer than the Allied campaign against Nazi Germany in World War II, history has more than vindicated Shinseki. There still aren't enough U.S. troops in Iraq to stop sectarian militias from killing civilians at a rate approaching 110 a day.

Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, retired director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed regret in a Time magazine article earlier this year that he didn't more openly challenge Rumsfeld's zeal for what Newbold called an "unnecessary war." He began his essay with these words:

"In 1971, the rock group The Who released the anti-war anthem 'Won't Get Fooled Again.' To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam.

"To those of us who were truly counterculture - who became career members of the military during those rough times - the song conveyed a very different message. To us, its lyrics evoked a feeling that we must never again stand by while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it.

"It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: The Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again."

Americans have indeed failed to heed history's lessons, especially the one offered by Robert McNamara. They have been fooled again by the hubris, incompetence and mismanagement of another secretary of defense. Can they truly afford to believe that, somehow or some way, Rumsfeld should be allowed to keep his job?

source: http://www.registerguard.com/news/2006/09/02/printable/ed.edit.rummy.0902.GMfhtpP9.phtml?section=opinion 3sep2006

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