Rumsfeld's War
October 30, 2004 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Frontline: Rumsfeld's War, a PBS/Washington Post joint documentary that aired earlier this week is now online. It is the inside story of Rumsfeld's battle to assert civil control over the military.
posted by stbalbach (15 comments total)

 
I haven't tried the stream yet, but I did read the synopsis. From what I read, Rumsfeld's biggest problem is trying to change the military and (ab?)use it at the same time.
posted by alumshubby at 3:45 PM on October 30, 2004


this was an incredible (and incredibly damning) portrait of the civilian control of the military since Bush took office. It is a damn shame that in the space of four years Rumsfeld destroyed all the progress the military had made since the Vietnam war. I found the show very well done, very balanced with many sources from all over the place, and very depressing.

The summary is that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz ignored the experts at our peril. Oh yeah, and that thingis are screwed up beyond belief.
posted by n9 at 3:48 PM on October 30, 2004


Thanks, stbalbach. It's remarkable what Frontline is doing in terms of making information available online (though I do suggest hitting it in the off-peak hours).

Also, don't miss The Choice 2004 for the best overview of the candidates I've seen.
posted by cedar at 4:35 PM on October 30, 2004


It's remarkable what Frontline is doing in terms of making information available online

No kidding. The whole design-concept-delivery is very well done. Thanks for the link.
posted by dhoyt at 5:02 PM on October 30, 2004


I caught the end of this one night this week and wished I'd seen the whole thing. Looked like excellent analysis.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:27 PM on October 30, 2004


Further evidence for me about the puppet theory of this administration... The 2nd in command is always the more powerful decision maker, and the 1st is basically a frontman for their ideas.

It's amazing how blatantly obvious and self-serving their agenda is. When will spoon-fed America stop drinking the kool-aid and wake up to what their "leaders" are doing on their behalf?!
posted by bk at 6:48 PM on October 30, 2004


I find it ironic that Bush complains about Kerry's support for cold-war-era defense budget cuts when his entire Iraq strategy emphasizes the effective use of relatively smaller fighting forces.

I suspect that both the Afghanistan and Iraq operations would have been more successful if they had been focused on capturing Osama and Saddam rather than conquering the countries. A large team of commandos running through afghanistan might stand a better chance of finding Mr. bin Laden than remotely controled drones and cruise missiles. Similarly, how hard would it have been to station a few dozen F/15s around Baghdad and just take out a Hussein motorcade (and those of any of his body-doubles) when he went out to one of his countryside estates?
posted by b1tr0t at 6:48 PM on October 30, 2004


Also available by BitTorrent (a rip that has a rather higher resolution)
posted by gentle at 8:59 PM on October 30, 2004


"how hard would it have been to station a few dozen F/15s around Baghdad and just take out a Hussein motorcade" (b1tr0t) - I've always wondered why the biggest, baddasted military power on the planet cannot kill the a rundown, creaky 2nd world dictator.

Occupying a nation is one thing, but killing it's leader is wholly another.

Attempted occupations almost always result in a fiascoes for the occupiers, but hit-and-run operations can achieve objectives quite efficiently.....if the objective is actually defined.
posted by troutfishing at 9:26 PM on October 30, 2004


I concur, great piece. Rummy's outsourcing and streamlining fetish left me as conflicted as I was before the war: if it weren't obviously a patronage scam, there might well be something meaningful here. My dad is a prof at a uni that has been teaching midlevel pentagon people about contemporary bizmgmt stuff, and MAN has it been interesting discussing this stuff with him.
posted by mwhybark at 10:37 PM on October 30, 2004


if the army knew winning the peace would be harder than winning the war, why didn't they plan for it anyway? does the army not have that level of independence? if my boss asks me to do something stupid, and rules over my objections, then i make sure i have a back-up plan to cover the mistakes i can see coming. why didn't the army do the same? i find it difficult to believe that a large organisation can't stick some people in a room and come up with a contingency plan on the side.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:38 AM on October 31, 2004


andrew: the big problem is simply resources. Basically that it's nearly impossible to keep control of a country that size using only the number of soldiers that were part of the initial invasion force. And it's also quite obvious that the US soldiers didn't have proper peacekeeping training as well. But that's not something that can be taken care of in some general's spare time to cover for the pentagon's awful planning.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:23 AM on October 31, 2004


andrew: they actually did have such a plan, which had been developed during the Clinton era. It was "taken off the shelf," in preparation for an update, but then essentially the people in charge of updating it were told not to, that the plan wasn't needed, and so work halted.
posted by mwhybark at 9:40 AM on October 31, 2004


It's astonishing that Rumsfeld believed that Iraq could be conquered with just 50,000 troops. That's less people than you get at a Manchester United home game. It's almost equally as astonishing that there was nobody in the Pentagon with enough clout to persuade them that even with 100,00 troops you are living in the realms of fantasy if you think that's sufficient.
posted by chill at 10:10 AM on October 31, 2004


(thanks for the info)
posted by andrew cooke at 11:20 AM on October 31, 2004


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