For video of the Donald Rumsfeld Sadaam Hussein handshake, see:
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made these remarks at West Point last Friday.
Looking ahead, though, in the competition for tight defense dollars within and between the services, the Army also must confront the reality that the most plausible, high-end scenarios for the U.S. military are primarily naval and air engagements – whether in Asia, the Persian Gulf, or elsewhere. The strategic rationale for swift-moving expeditionary forces, be they Army or Marines, airborne infantry or special operations, is self-evident given the likelihood of counterterrorism, rapid reaction, disaster response, or stability or security force assistance missions. But in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should “have his head examined,” as General MacArthur so delicately put it.
Barbara Tuchman (1912 – 1989) wrote popular world history. The work for which she won the Pulitzer Prize and established her reputation was The Guns of August, published in 1962. In 1985, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, was published. She defined “folly as a policy pursued despite contemporary arguments to the contrary, so policies only condemned in hindsight don’t qualify. Other conditions in Tuchman’s definition are that a reasonable alternative course of action was available and that the misguided policy was pursued by different people over time.”
Rumsfeld fills in some ‘gaps in our knowledge’
Memoir offers insights into war and politics
By Claude R. Marx
Globe Correspondent / February 18, 2011
…Even though the Bush administration and intelligence experts were wrong about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs, Rumsfeld contends that the decision to go to war was still justified.
“Intelligence evidence about WMD had a way of taking pride of place in the litany of reasons for going to war. In fact, that should have been only one of many reasons. There was a long list of other charges against Saddam Hussein’s regime — its support for terrorism, its attacks on American pilots in no-fly zones, its violation of the United Nations Security Council resolution, its history of aggression and its crimes against its people,’’ he writes. “Obviously the focus on WMD to the exclusion of almost all else was a public relations error that cost the administration dearly.’’
SecDef von Rumsfeld’s statement is riddled with delusional hypocrisy. During the 1980s, the Reagan administration supported Sadaam Hussein’s regime after Iraq attacked Iran in 1980. Iraq’s links to al-Queda were tenuous at best and did not justify the invasion. Other countries such as Libya supported international terrorism and were not invaded while Iran (IEDs) and Syria (Hamas) continue to support terrorists.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz acknowledged that choosing the threat of WMD as the vehicle to market justification for the war to the American people was [f]or bureaucratic reasons…”. President Bush asserted: “America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” The threat of WMD, in whatever form, chemical, gas, or plague, there was never an existential threat to the United States because no delivery system existed.
With regard to the assumption that the Baathist regime possessed weapons of mass of destruction, Gen. James “Spider” Marks, who was tasked with the mission of finding the 946 identified sites and disposing of the WMD, offered these trenchant remarks concerning the priority the Bush administration placed on his role and the presumptive reason for war.
“‘No one in Rumsfeld’s general chain of command seemed to know who I was. I mean, I was a senior general officer, but…I’m sure I was below their noise level’…Pointedly, he added, ‘I was taught when I made general officer that I didn’t have a noise level. Everything was mine. I had to give a shit about every issue, because if I didn’t, something critical would slip through.’ Let me get this straight, I [Jeff Stein] said to Marks: After all the talk about Saddam Hussein over the previous two years, the officials responsible for planning the actual war no longer cared about WMD? ‘Well,’ he said, continuing to put it like a soldier, ‘they ostensibly cared, but their give-a-shit level was really low.’”
The surge into Iraq, “The New Way Forward”, that began in January 2007, succeeded operationally but failed strategically because it was assumed the decrease in violence would bring about “political reconciliation.” Competing tribal, ethnic, and religious centers of power would coalesce to establish a functioning democracy that would serve the common good of the Iraqi people. The United States, led by George Dubya Bush, would create a flourishing democracy in Iraq like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Douglas MacArthur did in 1945. Without doubt, this has not happened in Iraq, and likely never will.
History and war experts warn that Bush has at times oversimplified the comparison between postwar efforts in Japan and Germany and what’s unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the end of World War II, enemies formally surrendered, hostilities ended, basic security existed, and local populations essentially accepted occupation and reconstruction.
Experts say those conditions don’t exist in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After Iraq’s Day of Rage, a Crackdown on Intellectuals
By Stephanie McCrummen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 27, 2011; 5:53 AM
BAGHDAD – Iraqi security forces detained about 300 people, including prominent journalists, artists and lawyers who took part in nationwide demonstrations Friday, in what some of them described as an operation to intimidate Baghdad intellectuals who hold sway over popular opinion.
On Saturday, four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest of thousands at Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
“It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists,” said Hussan al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet who described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. “Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq.”
The Iraq protests were different from many of the revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa in that demonstrators were calling for reform, not for getting rid of the government. Their demands ranged from more electricity and jobs to ending corruption, reflecting a dissatisfaction with government that cuts across sectarian and class lines.
Yet the protests were similar to others in that they were organized, at least in part, by middle-class, secular intellectuals, many of whom started Facebook groups, wrote and gave interviews supporting the planned demonstrations.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who only recently formed a fragile governing coalition that is supported by the United States, was apparently concerned about the protest billed as Iraq’s “Day of Rage.” Leading up to Friday, he ordered a curfew on cars and urged Iraqis to stay home, as a government spokesman warned of “terrorists” who might use “sniping and silencer pistols” to target crowds. Security forces raided a prominent journalist watchdog group involved in organizing the protest.
Despite that, tens of thousands of Iraqis turned out for the protests, which began peacefully but degenerated as forces fired water cannons, sound bombs and live bullets to disperse crowds.
The death toll rose to at least 29 Saturday, as officials reported that six more protesters, including a 14-year-old boy, died from bullet wounds. The deaths were recorded in at least eight places, including Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit.
Ssairi and his colleagues had joined the protests in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, some wrapping themselves in white sheets in a sign of peace. As the sun set, helicopters swooped down into the crowd, signaling the start of the crackdown.
Around 4 p.m., Aldiyar TV manager Fiysal Alyassiry, who had broadcast the demonstrations, reported that security forces had attacked the station, beat a worker, arrested seven people including a director and an anchorman, and closed the station.
About the same time, Ssairi and his colleages were sitting at an open-air restaurant two miles from the square. According to interviews with him and several others, two Humvees pulled up and about a dozen camoflauge-clad soldiers stormed inside.
They descended upon the table where Hadi al-Mahdi, a journalist and theater director, was sitting with three friends and began beating them.
“We said, ‘What are you doing – we’re journalists!’ ” Mahdi said.
They loaded them into the Humvees, drove them to a side street, where they beat them again. Then, blindfolded, they were driven to a place Mahdi later recognized as the former Defense Ministry building, which houses an intelligence unit of the army’s 11th Division.
Inside, they heard soldiers laughing and chanting “Maliki liar!” – mocking a slogan some protesters had shouted. Mahdi said he was taken to a room alone, and soon, he was being beaten with sticks, boots and fists. They took his shoes off, wet his feet and administered electric shocks to them.
In between, the soldiers interrogated him, he said. They accused him of being a tool of outsiders wishing to topple Maliki’s government. He told them that he’d been a member of Maliki’s Dawa party until he recently became disillusioned.
“They said, ‘You’re Dawa?’ ” Hadi said. “Then I realized they were totally stupid.”
A soldier accused him of being a traitor and beat him some more. And then Hadi, who comes from a prominent family, was told he and his colleagues would be released, the result of friends who made some well-placed phone calls.
Just before they were freed, however, Hadi was held in a room where about 300 people sat on the floor. They had black hoods over their heads. Many were groaning, their shirts bloodied. An elderly man had passed out.
“This government is sending a message to us – to everybody,” Hadi said Saturday, his forehead bruised, his left leg swollen.
Gathered at a house in the afternoon, Hadi’s colleagues told similar stories. Many said that despite their treatment, they considered the protest successful.
“It’s put pressure,” said Raad Mushatat, a filmmaker who was not detained. “The government is scared. But they do not scare me anymore.”
Facts on the ground directly from Baghdad
February 26, 2011
Do it or Leave it
Confusion is the most suitable word by which I can describe my feelings about the situation in Iraq. It became so difficult to reach acceptable explanations for the simplest issues in Iraq. The Iraqi governments been spending billions of dollars for about seven years and yet, no real changes happened. We heard and read all the kind of excuses like the unstable security situation, Baathists and followers of the former regime, enemies of democracy and new Iraq and many other ones. These excuses are not acceptable anymore by Iraqis and they showed that clearly in Friday demonstration.
The main purpose of the demonstrations that took place in many Iraqi cities in Feb 25 was to give the Iraqi officials an idea about the bad reality that we live eight years after what was called liberation. After the collapse of the former regime in 2003, Iraqis were so optimistic about future. We thought that collapsing Saddam’s regime was the end of suffering, deprivation but it looks that Iraq moved from the dictatorship of one party to the dictatorship of a group of parties. Both Baath Party and the current Iraqi parties care only about their interests neglecting Iraqis completely. During Saddam’s regime, high positions were only for the regime’s supporters and now the same thing happen. If you are not a member of the ruling parties or a friend of one of the officials, you can forget about having a decent job even if you have the highest level of education. Professionalism is not the basic criterion in Iraq. It had been ignored more than three decades ago. The basic criterion now days is (which party are you from? )or sometimes (how much money you can pay to get the position?)
With the spread of anger in more than one Arabic country against their governments and the collapse of the strong Arabic regimes, the fragile Iraq government has no chance to stand one real big demonstration. It would be better for the government to resign if it doesn’t work hard to provide better life for Iraqis If the news about plans to misuse the demonstration worked this time, it will not be helpful the next one.