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December 03, 2006

We've All Been McNamara'ed
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

I found it eerie when I heard a few weeks ago that Secretary Rumsfeld was staying on through the end of this year in order to get closer to Robert McNamara's record seven-year tenure in the job.

I find it even more eerie that Rumsfeld has taken another page out of the McNamara playbook, albeit retroactively.  In 1967, McNamara sent a memo to President Johnson opposing the commitment of additional troops to Vietnam; when Johnson declined to take his advice, McNamara resigned and/or was asked to resign.  (McNamara says he is "not sure" which, and it's too late to ask Johnson.)

It's not so much that I find what Rumsfeld wrote surprising -- pretty much all the obvious options that people have been batting around for two years now are in there.  Many of them, unfortunately, won't work as well as they would have when people outside the Administration proposed them.  (I deeply fear this is true of what we are going to get from the Iraq Study Group as well.  I'm no longer confident that we can have a workable "regional approach" when Iraqis already think they are at the center of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  but I digress.)

No, what is surprising is what I'll call the McNamara "thing" -- the idea that Rumsfeld can save his place in history by showing us that he really did "get it."  As I wrote the other day about the Hadley memo leak, an Administration that began with unprecedented staff loyalty is ending with some pretty nasty backstabbing.

for a little humor...

Here,a blogger I don't know wrote a funny "Bush Fires Rumsfeld, Hires McNamara" -- mind you, this was written five months ago...


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Will Rummy make a true confession like McNnamara did?

"We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation. We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why."

No, Rummy won't take any responsibility--he'll shift it to others.

On October 2d the DOD website published an interview Bob Woodward did with Rummy on July 6/7, 2006

MR. WOODWARD: The beginning is this question of what was the model for Iraq, because I think it was Bill Luti who was giving briefings here about kind of an occupation -- not necessarily MacArthur style, but it looked like that. And then other people were talking about a quick handover in one of these meetings. You say --

SEC. RUMSFELD: I tilted to the latter, to the quicker handover, and the president did.

MR. WOODWARD: -- that you were looking for Iraq's Karzai, is that correct?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't remember that. Clearly, you needed somebody who people could recognize as providing leadership in the country. And I always felt that foreign troops are an anomaly in a country, that eventually they're unnatural and not welcomed really. I think I used the characterization of a broken bone. If you don't set it, everything grows around the break and you end up with that abnormality. And I used the phrase of it's like teaching a youngster how to ride a bicycle. You run behind them with your hand in the seat. And at some point you've got to take some fingers off, and then you've got to let go, and they might fall. You help pick them up and put them back on it. But otherwise, if you don't take your hand off, you're going to end up with a 40-year-old who can't ride a bike. . . . There's also the concept of declining consent and the like. And there's the -- John Abizaid and I and the president talked on many occasions about this, and we used this construct that there is a natural tension between having too many and too few. Too few and the political and economic environment can't go forward. Too many and you have two risks: one, you feed the insurgency and create opposition, engender opposition; and second, you create a dependency. Our folks are so good at what they do, and if there's a ditch to be dug they're going to dig the ditch. And we can't allow that to happen. We've simply got to manage that, and it's an art not a science. And therefore, I tend to want to go, and so does the president, with the person on the ground -- in this case, General Casey -- and he's got to be the artist. You can't do it from 7,000 miles away.

MR. WOODWARD: In '03, though, if I go through the record, talk to people like Garner and go through records, talk to people in the White House, it seemed --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Garner had that model, too.


SEC. RUMSFELD: Jay Garner --

MR. WOODWARD: Yes, yes --

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- had that model, too.

NOTE: Lieutenant General Jay Garner (Ret), former US Army Assistant Vice Chief of Staff--Garner began Iraq reconstruction efforts in March 2003 with plans aiming for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. He was replaced in his role by Paul Bremer, the Managing Director of Kissinger and Associates, on May 11th, 2003.

MR. WOODWARD: Yes, exactly. Exactly. He was let's set up an interim governing council, let's, you know -- I mean, he briefed the president on we're going to use 200,000 to 300,000 Iraqi troops for border patrol and security and so forth.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Is that right? Well, I don't know that.


SEC. RUMSFELD: Do you want me every time you say something that I don't know to tell you?

MR. WOODWARD: Absolutely.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Okay. I don't know that.

MR. WOODWARD: My question really is -- what did you envision in the spring of '03 happening? Because, of course, Bremer comes in with a very different model.

SEC. RUMSFELD: He did? I was more in the Jay Garner mode. And Jerry Bremer, of course, is a presidential envoy and, as such, he reported to the president and to Condi at the NSC staff.

And then we have Rummy's pre-election CYA:

Nov. 6, 2006

SUBJECT: Iraq — Illustrative New Courses of Action

The situation in Iraq has been evolving, and U.S. forces have adjusted, over time, from major combat operations to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency, to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence. In my view it is time for a major adjustment. Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough. Following is a range of options: . . .

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