Rumsfeld’s Attitude of Denial

A great deal of attention has been paid to the July 10, 2001 briefing of then SoS Condi Rice on the probability of an imminent attack on the US by bin Laden and al Qaeda. Rice finally claimed that she had directed Tenet and Black to give the same briefing to then AG Ashcroft and our super glued to his SoD post, Rumsfeld. Ashcroft had already been on record for saying ‘Stop telling me about’ the terrorists.

Rumsfeld was later to tell his military commanders that the next one to suggest a post Iraq invasion plan would be fired. It was known that the State Department had for years developed what Richard Clarke referred to as Pol-Mil plans. The millitary plans had been developed for centuries with the level of detail and multiple options spelled out to the last letter and dime. What places to attack, what troops to deploy, how to support them, what to do given various outcomes, and cost estimates. During the 80’s, the Political plans had begun to be developed in the same way. Clinton’s classic response when he discovered those plans was that they were surely necessary: because if the military couldn’t take (whatever country) in very short order, “We’ve been wasting a lot of money at the Pentagon”. The point of the Pol-Mil plans was that the political action plans were developed to be carried out in synchrony with the military plans and their real world outcome.

In Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq , Stephen Kinzer describes the comprehensive and quality effort made at Secretary of State Colin Powell’s direction, and presented to Rummy.

A full year before the invasion of Iraq, the State Department had launched a ambitious project called “Future of Iraq,” which was aimed at finding ways to establish security and begin the transition to democracy after Sadam was gone. Large teams of experts, including more than 200 Iraqis representing almost every ethnic and political group in the country, produced thirteen volumes of recommendations about how to rebuild everything from the country’s oil industry to it’s criminal justice system. They brought their recommendations to the Pentagon, along with a list of seventy-five Arabic-speeaking specialists who were ready to go to Iraq as soon as Saddam was gone. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld summarily rejected them and their ideas. [:roll:]

This was the plan that retired U.S. Army general Jay Garner was sent to carry out, except he was almost immediately replaced with L. Paul Bremer III; whose botching of rebuilding Iraq is among the most incredible failures – if only the amount of wasted money is considered.

American leaders would have done well to reflect on the fate that befell the British when they tried to subdue Iraq after World War I. Iraqis launched a revolt against the colonial regime in 1920. The British sent troops to suppress it but soon found themselves caught in a spiral of horrific violence. Their occupation, which they expected would last for only a few months, dragged on for thirty-five years. When they finally withdrew in 1955, they left behind a weak, unrepresentative political system that ultimately produced Saddam Hussein.

“What happened in Iraq,” the British historian Niall Ferguson wrote in 2004, “so closely resembles the events of 1920 that only a historical ignoramus can be surprised.”

During that war, the British taught the young Saddam about spraying civilians from the air. They used early planes and sprayed leftover WWI nerve gas on the Kurds to keep them away from the oil fields.

Additionally, there is the Iraq-Iran war and the other events in the past 2 decades that add to the history that this country had multiple issues and loyalties that would fight for power.

Kinzer astutely observes:

Americans believe, perhaps more fervently than anyone else on earth, that everything is possible if one works hard enough to achieve it. That may be true when people confront challenges posed by nature, science, or even other people. Transforming long-established cultures, however, is a much more daunting task. Attempting to do so and failing can bring terrible consequences.


Military historians since Thucydides, who wrote that nations feel “an innate compulsion to rule when empowered,” have observed that no state ever acquires great military strength without using it. As a country becomes more powerful, it inevitably becomes greedy and succombs to the temptation to take what it wants. Time and again over the course of history, greed has led great nations to overreach and sow the seeds of their decline.

…the British statesman Edmund Burke presciently warned when his country was master of a vast empire. “I dread our being too much dreaded. It is ridiculous to say that we are not men, and that, as men, we shall never wish to aggrandize ourselves.”

Ahh, the Man of War [Power] knew better, he still does. He didn’t do anything wrong.

Well, sort of. He didn’t allow ANYTHING to be done politically. And that is WRONG.

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One Response to Rumsfeld’s Attitude of Denial

  1. battlebob says:

    A different view of Hizballah

    The question…
    Who are the terrorists?