prowling Baghdad with a sidearm and a defective
By Mike Whitney
Clearing House" -- -- On Monday, an editorial is scheduled to
appear in the “Army Times” which will call for Donald Rumsfeld’s
resignation as Secretary of Defense. The article will run
simultaneously in the “Air Force Times”, “Navy Times” and
“Marine Corps Times” and will be available to every active
member in the United States Military.
The editorial “Time for Rumsfeld to go” provides a brief summary
of Rumsfeld’s role in engineering the greatest strategic defeat
in American history. It says that the “rosy reassurances” made
by the administration (like “Mission accomplished” and that the
insurgency “was in its last throes”) were in stark contrast to
the military’s “misgivings about the war’s planning, execution
and prospects for success”.
Note: The “Army Times” has traditionally been about as critical
of the government as their Soviet equivalent, Pravda. They have
never publicly bashed the civilian leadership even in the worst
days of the Vietnam War. This is entirely unprecedented. The
military has clearly lost its faith in Rumsfeld’s ability to
Rumsfeld’s inability to learn from his mistakes or follow the
advice of his subordinates has caused him to underestimate the
challenges of military occupation or “the problem of molding a
viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force
for national unity.”
Even at this late date, Rumsfeld has no plan for establishing
security and he never did. He always believed that he could bomb
the Iraqis into submission and bring the nation “to heel” with
America’s overwhelming firepower.
He failed and his model of military subjugation failed as well.
The editorial states:
“Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership,
with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His
strategy has failed, and his ability to lead has been
compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq
rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its
brunt….It’s time to face the hard bruising truth: Donald
Rumsfeld must go.”
Rumsfeld has reacted in typical fashion. He is reorganizing the
Pentagon’s public relations operations to create a “rapid
response unit” to address the mounting criticism of himself and
his war. His actions suggest that the personal attacks on him
and the conduct of the war are merely a matter of perception
management which can be corrected by a competent team of PR
But the war will not be won by simply revving up the
propaganda-machine. Nor will Rumsfeld’s image be restored by
recasting his blunders as the bold actions of a military genius.
Baghdad is surrounded. Hundreds of Iraqis are being tortured and
killed every day. The country is in a state of collapse. There’s
only so much that one can expect from public relations
makeovers. Even the best propaganda has its limits.
Surprisingly, there are signs that Rumsfeld and Co. finally
grasp the seriousness of the situation in Iraq and have begun
negotiations with the Sunni-backed resistance. Juan Cole
(Informed Comment) cites news from Amman newspaper al-Ra’y:
“Contacts between US Officials and Armed Factions…The Iraqi
government meets representatives of the Ba’ath Party and armed
Resistance and calls for reconsidering the decision to dissolve
the army and canceling the Deba’athification.” Iraqi elites,
including former members of the Saddam regime are negotiating
the terms for “reconciliation” which may include the reinstating
the Iraqi military and many of the members of the Ba’athist
Party to positions of political power. “Some of those who
attended the meetings are from the armed resistance moving under
political cover.” They are insisting that the Bush
administration “reconsider the dissolution of the army” and
“cancel the De’bathification Law”.
If secret negotiations are in fact going on, then that is
certainly a positive development. The present conflict won’t end
without communication between the warring parties and a
clearly-defined political solution.
Still, it seems manifestly hypocritical for President Bush to
continue blasting the Democrats as the “cut and run” party,
while he’s secretly working out the details for putting Saddam’s
henchmen back into power.
The reports of secret talks coincide with a glut of rumors from
Jordan which suggest that high-ranking American officials have
met with Iraqi Generals in Amman and are working out the details
to depose Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki through a coup
d’etat. In fact, Al-Ahram Weekly reported that “discussions of a
coup have been underway for some time between American and Iraqi
officers. One politician stated that several Iraqi leaders, who
have been working closely with the Americans…are also involved
in the discussions.” (“A Volte Face for Iraq, Salah Hemeid)
Is it true? Is the Bush administration so desperate that they
would abandon any pretense of “establishing a democracy in the
heart of the Middle East” and try to resurrect the Saddam
And, how does this new information square with Cheney’s claim
that, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists; we defeat them!” Was
it just more empty bravado and tough-talk like, “Bring ‘em on”?
The administration appears to be wearing-down from the deluge of
bad news coming out of Iraq. Last week, Bush held a live
interview with right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh where
“I am deeply concerned about a country, the United States,
leaving the Middle East. I am worried that rival forms of
extremists will battle for power, creating incredible damage
that will topple modern governments, and they will be in a
position to use oil as a tool to blackmail the West….If they
control oil resources, and pull oil off the market in order to
run the price up, and they do so unless we abandon Israel for
example, or unless we abandon our allies.”
Imagine the level of desperation that Bush must feel to finally
admit the real reason for our involvement in Iraq. All the
nonsense about WMD and “bringing democracy to the Iraqi people”
is brushed aside in one somber statement. Bush not only concedes
that the war was about oil but, also, that we may now be facing
a burgeoning resistance that could cross borders and engulf the
entire region in flames. Now that IS a threat to our national
The war has released the genie of mass-destruction and there’s a
strong probability that the fighting won’t be contained within
Iraq. Oddly enough, this has always been the dark-vision of the
neoconservatives who espoused “creative destruction” as the
organizing-principle of foreign policy. Now that their dream
appears to be materializing, they’re all in full-retreat trying
to distance themselves from the president.
Only Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are left to take the blame.
The editorial in the “Army Times” is just the beginning of a
long and agonizing slide toward the political ash-heap. Many
will undoubtedly say that it is inappropriate for active
military to speak out against the civilian leadership in a
democracy, but most will conclude that the article doesn’t go
far enough. There are some people who’d like to see a convoy of
tanks and armored-vehicles clanking down Pennsylvania Ave on
their way to removing the corporate-interlopers from the big
white house with the rot-iron gates. And there are others are
who’d like to see those same tanks take a spin through the House
of Representatives and the Supreme Court on their way to the
Time-Warner Building where they can send Wolf Blitzer and Paula
Zahn scuttling down 5th Ave with cake-makeup and mascara
dripping from the terrified faces.
And, there are even those who’d like to see the Decider-in-chief
packed-off to Crawford while a responsible adult like retired
General Zinni takes over and extracts the ship-o-state from the
But that’s too much to hope for, and besides, the problem we
face is much greater than Bush or Rumsfeld. The American
Corporatocracy cannot be beaten by removing a few small cogs in
the mighty wheel of state-power. We need a sea-change in our
political life; a complete system-makeover from top to bottom.
None of the people who started this war will ever be held
accountable. In fact, the cabal of militarists, think-tank
sycophants, and genocidal nutbars, who operate covertly behind
the scenes, are probably devising their next bloodbath already.
Unless we root them out, the cancer will persist.
The best solution would be to gather the lot-of-them together,
issue each one a sidearm and the standard defective
bulletproof-vest, and make them prowl the warrens of Baghdad in
an unarmored Humvee like our troops do everyday.
That oughta’ be fair enough.
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