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That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know.
February 20, 2007 9:39 PM   Subscribe

Donald Rumsfeld, Revealed - Parts 1 and 2. A nice, brief historical roundup of the man who - in the words of John McCain - is "one of the worst secretaries of defense in history."
posted by nevercalm (40 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rumsfeld soundbites
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:51 PM on February 20, 2007


But with the way McCain is flip-flopping in the wind, doesn't that mean that Rumsfeld was the BEST SecDef in history?
posted by dw at 10:09 PM on February 20, 2007


Rumsfeld - worst Secretary of Defense ever
Iraq War - the United States' biggest foreign policy mistake ever

The killing tides are turning, thank God. I think Harrry Reid might be correct. We really fucked up going into Iraq. Vietnam never really mattered. Only the American body count did. Iraq matters. We have created a new haven for terrorists. That's a nice way to spend $366 Billion and counting.
posted by caddis at 10:10 PM on February 20, 2007


Despite the well-founded urge to label Rumsfeld as an amusing exemplar of the shitmongering banality of evil, one is also sorely tempted to suggest that John McCain go fuck himself.

Whatever to do (other than just stamp a big red diagonal WORST over a picture of the entire Bush administration)?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:13 PM on February 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


stavwonchick speaks true:
these days I'm GLAD Mcain plays for the other side.
A year ago I really respected him.
posted by Dizzy at 10:20 PM on February 20, 2007


Dick and Rummy go way back,torture paperclip. "Among those who advocated keeping quiet were Dick Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, now the vice president and defense secretary, the Olsons learned from memos and other papers received last year from the Gerald R. Ford Library."
posted by hortense at 10:51 PM on February 20, 2007


Rumsfeld's known-unknowns thing is a useful bit o' wisdom actually.

I first ran into this -- and got to understand it the hard way after some retrospection -- running my own business 1993-1995, wherein I learned that aggressive, ceaseless MARKETING is an important component of any start-up enterprise.

I don't think any SecDef willing to go into Iraq the way we did -- without the graces of UNSC approval -- was going to be able to produce any great outcome out of it.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:55 PM on February 20, 2007


Also by mccain on rummy "he deserves Americans' respect and gratitude for his many years of public service."
posted by delmoi at 11:07 PM on February 20, 2007


Vietnam never really mattered. Only the American body count did.

And, er, the Vietnamese body count. And the Cambodian one.
posted by stammer at 11:21 PM on February 20, 2007


Fuck McCain & definitely fuck Rumsfeld
posted by growabrain at 11:40 PM on February 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Rumsfeld was basically a sweet guy who was just doing his best to make everyone happy. Poor fella.
posted by facetious at 11:42 PM on February 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


On the topic of the Secretary of Defense, I urge you to watch The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.

It is extremely good.
posted by GavinR at 12:09 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


A year ago I really respected [McCain].

A year ago was 2/2006. I lost all respect for him about 2 years before that, when, in front of millions of people and on the Republican Convention floor, he fellated GWB after a bout of sweaty anal intercourse.
posted by DU at 5:53 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


What McCain is doing is putting all the blame on someone who is now out of office and enjoying his retirement and permanent government pension.

This is so that McCain can continue to advocate for the war. It's not that the war was wrong; it's just Rumsfeld's fault that he screwed it up, you see.

McCain is trying to distract attention from the fact that what little Iraq plan he has advocated, Bush is actually doing: escalating. So when the escalation inevitably fails, it will be McCain's plan that fails as well. Presumably this post-Rumsfeld failure will be blamed on Rumsfeld as well. Or maybe Secretary Gates will be the new incompetent SecDef who is managing to screw up McCain's excellent plan. You just can't get good help these days!

There's nothing else to be learned from this. Rumsfeld was not a particularly bad Secretary of Defense. He was charged with blowing up Iraq; he succeeded. The Department of Defense (old title: Department of War) does not have any ability to *put things back together again*, only take them apart, so expecting Rumsfeld to put Iraq together again is unreasonable and foolish. (The question should be, why have George Bush and Condoleeza Rice failed to put Iraq back together again?)
posted by jellicle at 6:23 AM on February 21, 2007


Hi - has anyone read the linked FPP that can comment on it? Thanks.
posted by stbalbach at 6:24 AM on February 21, 2007


Fuck McCain & definitely fuck Rumsfeld

not me thanks, they're too ugly
posted by matteo at 6:40 AM on February 21, 2007


Hi - has anyone read the linked FPP that can comment on it? Thanks.

Good point.

As for Rumsfeld's relations with his generals, the subject of veiled accusations of his heedlessness to dissent or running roughshod over warnings of serious problems, we actually know very little. The calamity in Iraq has brought more public criticism by senior officers than any other war in American history, including Vietnam, but almost all of it hurled from the relatively safe seats of two-and three-star retirement -- and forlornly after the fact.

I think this goes a long way to explaining John McCain's strategy in criticizing Rumsfeld. There is much resentment of Donald Rumsfeld's actions to whittle down the Armed Forces at all levels of the services, not just at the top as mentioned above.

By trashing Rumsfeld, McCain ingratiates himself with the conservative (in the sense of politically conservative and hierarchy-status-quo conservative) elements within the military.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:44 AM on February 21, 2007


They're all the worst. Rumsfeld is the worst SecDef in American history. Rice is easily one of the worst Secretaries of State. Rove, for all the mystique of his dirty tricks, is a miserable Chief of Staff, having allowed unfettered corruption and leaks in what is supposed to be a period of intense internal security to pass by for the sake of electoral convenience, which ultimately failed miserably in 2006. Elizabeth Dole is the most embarrassingly incompetent leader the NRSC ever had. Christie Whitman's singular act of significance as head of the EPA was lying about the danger of the air over Manhattan post-9/11: an act that could potentially give a few million people cancer in the next two decades. John Ashcroft wasted a couple grand on ten-foot burquas while helping Rice and Powell ignore the greatest and most fatal security breach in the history of the United States to a scale so horrific and neglectful it made his successor's allowance of a few thousand people in New Orleans to drown while an entire city was wiped off the map look "not as bad."

In is not merely the fact that these people are failures. Clinton, and Bush, and Reagan, all had people on their staff who, like the Presidents themselves, failed in tasks. But this is the first modern case of a system where these people were all practically devoted to a single, particular task and failed at it in every imaginable respect. History will be written not on the back of Bush's accomplishments but how well the 44th, 45th, and 46th presidents managed to repair every mistake he made that scarred the very stature of the United States for a generation.

The scale of ineptness, incompetence, and ignorance on the part of a handful of individuals at the seat of power who abandoned almost everything this country had going for it for the sake of a single new objective- that failed- is overwhelming to the degree far beyond just saying they're "the worst ever." These people aren't just bad, they're unbelievable. Schoolchildren will read of the George W. Bush administration in history books and not even think it was the worst administration ever; they'll actually believe what they're reading is a fucking typo.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:46 AM on February 21, 2007 [14 favorites]


Well said XQ, but: the greatest and most fatal security breach in the history of the United States to a scale so horrific and neglectful it made his successor's allowance of a few thousand people in New Orleans to drown while an entire city was wiped off the map look "not as bad."

I disagree--I would call NOLA much, much worse than 9/11. At least with 9/11 there is the plausible human element of "we heard the warnings but didn't think it would really happen". With NOLA, not only have hurricanes happened many times before, but even *after* the disaster they failed to bring even food, water and police protection to people for N days, while the entire nation watched in horror. Imagine if the WTC buildings had stood for a week after the planes hit with people still trapped up there, and jumping off in desperation, while Administration officials went on TV and said they "had no idea" people were still in there and that "nobody could have foreseen" people needing rescuing after a disaster.
posted by DU at 6:57 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I think the one thing Rummy may've been right on was the Transformation idea for the military, but given a foreign policy that seems intended to make America a permanent international pariah, it doesn't matter worth a damn -- the old "maybe true, but also irrelevant" thing. And counterinsurgency won't get much traction either when we've seemingly done everything we possibly can to lose their hearts and minds. I give Petraeus about 24 months, tops.
posted by pax digita at 7:21 AM on February 21, 2007


Giving Petraeus 24 months is a pretty easy call, since the next President (who is a 100% lock on being a Democrat, unless Hillary or Satan somehow get the nomination) will "cut and run" ASAP.
posted by DU at 7:29 AM on February 21, 2007


OK, I'll put five bucks on General P having to squirm in front of the microphones in a Senate hearing room by...oh, let's say end of next March, 'k? Given that the Brits are gonna start pulling out of Basra, let's see how the cheering Iraqi crowds turn out waving little miniature Stars and stripes down there.

One factoid that makes me almost groan aloud, from Part II -- Rummy was on the short list to be Ronald Reagan's running mate.
posted by pax digita at 7:44 AM on February 21, 2007


XQ and DU are spot on, of course.

What I can't still, to this day, understand, is how there are those who still PROUDLY support the administration.

I mean, especially after Katrina, I don't know how any American could have left their "W - The President" stickers on their car.

I've said before, but I'll say again: The greatest political success of the 20th century was republicans being able to "steal" the religious mainstream from the democrats.

Whoever was responsible for converting poor southern Christians to the Republican banner really does deserve some sort of recognition.

And don't get me started on single-issue voters. Even now, there are soccer moms who STILL will vote for whatever republican candidate comes through SOLELY because they oppose abortion. That's it. Single issue voters to me are even worse than those who don't vote.

The last 6 years have truly shaken my belief in this country, and in my "fellow American". And I'm not saying that lightly.

Your "fellow American", statistically, is an ignorant bigot.

Between all the "rah-rah kill the Muslims" and almost 80% of the country opposing equal rights for gays, and the blatant looting of the national treasury for corporate gain, and the continued assault on women's reproductive rights, specifically, and *ALL* of our civil rights more broadly, I simply weep for America.

Janet Jackson's nipple. Yellow ribbon car magnets. English only propositions. Build a giant fence. Protect Marriage propositions. Faith-based school vouchers. Faith-based sex education and counseling (!). Purging evolution from science textbooks. Posting The Ten Commandments in courtrooms. Closeted gay gay-bashing evangelists. Mega-churches. Stem-cell hysteria. Katrina "looters". 9/11 conspiracies. Lying on the U.N. floor. Purposefully deceiving the American public. Lying to congress about intel. Under-manning and under-equipping the troops.

It's not been a very good few years. The worst part is that not only is virtually all of this supported by the administration, but by roughly half of the population as well.

This administration will, of course, be viewed as a dark period in American history.

My worry is that it will be seen only as the beginning of a much darker period. The same idiots, morons, and intellectual midgets who voted this administration in, TWICE (depending on your POV), still live here, and presumably still vote. THAT is the scary part.

A few months ago, I thought the dems had a lock on 2008. But now, I'm not quite so sure. Now that the sheen has worn off the midterm elections, I don't think the dems are necessarily guaranteed a walk in 2008.

And, as mentioned above, if Hillary gets the nomination, the repubs could run Rumsfeld and he would win.

Jesus I hope I didn't just give Rove an idea.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:55 AM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well put,, Xetc. - but what I think is important to keep in mind - if only for one's sanity - is that, as clear as these conclusions may seem to you and me, they are still subjective. People who are so inclined will still defend George Bush. Hell, people still defend Nixon and Reagan, who may not be as bad as our current incompetent-in-chief but still give him a run for his money, to be sure. I'm afraid that waiting for the day when everyone sees the debacle of this administration for what it really is will be a long, frustrating wait.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:05 AM on February 21, 2007


"The past was not predictable when it started." -- Donald Rumsfeld

But it was predictable that it wouldn't be predictable.

If you blame Rumsfeld without realizing that he was doing his master's bidding is just another success for the Cheney/Rove fundie Christian machine.

He was scapegoated for a reason.
posted by sfts2 at 8:16 AM on February 21, 2007


The greatest political success of the 20th century was republicans being able to "steal" the religious mainstream from the democrats. Whoever was responsible for converting poor southern Christians to the Republican banner really does deserve some sort of recognition.

That'd be TEH BLHACKS. But keep in mind that the Ds took over Congress without the help of the South, for the first time in history. The days of lolxians being in charge are over, thank God.
posted by DU at 8:36 AM on February 21, 2007


Am I at the right place? Is this metafilter or is it Little Blue Footballs?
posted by srboisvert at 8:47 AM on February 21, 2007


Hmmm....people with brains? Must be MetaFilter.
posted by nevercalm at 8:59 AM on February 21, 2007


While I agree with Jell's and X's sentiments, I sometimes wonder if it is all a part of a greater subterfuge. While it is plain for many of us to see what failures they have been in humanistic terms. I would argue that they have been phenomenally successful in what is perhaps their real goal. They have lined their and their friends pockets with lots and lots of cash. I personally have to see any of their "failures" not result in a huge payoff for more than one aspect of the junta. Nonetheless the article is a fascinating read.
posted by oshburghor at 9:00 AM on February 21, 2007


Single issue voters to me are even worse than those who don't vote.

Do you really mean that? I believe that there are plenty of single-issue voters on the other side of the abortion debate, too.
posted by dreamsign at 9:20 AM on February 21, 2007


there are plenty of single-issue voters on the other side of the abortion debate, too.

Yeah, and they're deluded as well. Anyone who unwaveringly toes a party line, any party line, needs a swift kick. If we had a government (both at the local and national level) that encompassed a range of beliefs and viewpoints, rather than shrilly shouting "abortion!" "immigration!" "teh gays" all the time, important issues like education, poverty, and health care might stand a chance of being approached in a constructive manner. Otherwise it's just taking the bait from those who benefit from not approaching said important issues in a constructive manner. The wealthy and powerful are wealthy and powerful because they've managed to muddy the waters in their own favor and they aren't all Republicans.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 9:51 AM on February 21, 2007


the "I really respect McCain thing, he's a maverick" thing is now, and always has been ridiculous. He's a straight-ahead party man and just as evil as the rest of them. He's just cultivated an utterly false image of "edginess." Essentially, he's the Kid Rock of politics.

And Rumsfeld is of course an evil douche. But I don't know why people latched onto that "things we know we don't know" thing- it actually makes perfectly good sense if you think about it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:02 AM on February 21, 2007


Yeah, that totally made sense. And so did "going to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had". In fact, Rumsfeld seems to have been a pretty smart, funny guy.

But you know who else had wit and charm to spare? Hitler.
posted by DU at 10:09 AM on February 21, 2007


At least with 9/11 there is the plausible human element of 'we heard the warnings but didn't think it would really happen'.

"Umm...I believe the title was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'"

And that was after the Hart-Rudman Commission predicted that "Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers" in their Phase One Report in 1999. They issued their final report on January 31, 2001, and President Bush tossed it aside.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:16 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I did not mean to sodomize Dick Cheney".

by Jerry Stahl
posted by matteo at 10:34 AM on February 21, 2007


First of all, there are things that we know. I can look at this menu and see that. But there’s a danger there. Do I “know” that hash browns are not included in the Original Grand Slam Breakfast? It says that on the menu, which, by the way, is nicely laminated and we’re grateful to the laminator. But getting back to the hash-brown potatoes. I should “know” that they’re not included.

Donald Rumsfeld Orders Breakfast at Denny's, by Frank Gannon in The New Yorker.

posted by JMOZ at 4:14 PM on February 21, 2007


From matteo's "I did not mean to sodomize Dick Cheney" link:
"But you didn’t actually serve, did you? What was it, five deferments? You dropped out of Yale, then went to community college because of the draft. I heard your wife even had a baby nine months to the day after they ended the childless-married deferments."
That's not true.

It was actually nine months and two days.

(not kidding)
posted by Flunkie at 4:31 PM on February 21, 2007


Single issue voters to me are even worse than those who don't vote.

Do you really mean that?


Yes, I do. Someone who only votes for a person on one narrow topic is not doing themselves nor the country any good by casting their vote.

Voting is a serious, solemn duty.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:02 AM on February 22, 2007


I wouldn't call myself a "critic" of the Bush administration -- rather, I am years beyond bothering to criticize it, and firmly in the camp of calling for immediate impeachment of Bush and Cheney, followed by several criminal indictments of these individuals.

My attitude towards Donald Rumsfeld is similarly negative. However, I found this article to be somewhat less than useful. I felt that it was much too full of baseless assertions and unsupported negative slanting of facts. While it seems likely to me that the assertions and slant are probably accurate, I suspect that such a style of writing lowers the level of discourse, provides Bush supporters with proof of unfair treatment of their leader, and generally condescends to the reading audience.

Give me the facts -- just the facts. I'll decide what I think and feel.
posted by bshock at 8:07 AM on February 22, 2007


THE PEOPLE V. RICHARD CHENEY
posted by homunculus at 9:38 AM on February 22, 2007


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