diet coke for breakfast

Monday, May 10, 2004

Posted by Tanstaafl
Rich Galen speaks on Abu Ghraib

An interesting read. I generally like people who think in bullet points.

Now, onto other, neglected, ponderings:

I'm going to have to disagree with Jake and the Economist.

There are several things that might be reason enough to call for his resignation, but I don't think any of them here are valid.

In terms of the Abu Ghraib abuse, I don't believe it was his fault. I don't belive that he could have prevented it. I don't believe he tried to cover it up. He probably should have prioritized the investigation for his staff and gotten more frequent updates on it, but that also could have been construed as interferance in a military investigation, which would also have been frowned upon. That still leaves the question of whether he should resign to "take responsibilty". Although it might serve as a symbol of how seriously we take the incident, I disagree with the assumption that one takes responsibilty for something by quitting. My belief is that you take responsibility for something by owning up to mistakes and screw-ups and then fixing them yourself, not by leaving the mess for the next guy.

As for Post-war planning, obviously the administration's record here is far from spotless. But again, how much of that blame should fall on Rumsfeld? When the war commenced, everyone, including myself, expected months of door-to-door urban combat in order to take Baghdad. Remember the predictions of moat of burning oil around Baghdad? Well it didn't happen. Instead, the remnants of the Republican Guard slinked off into the night, only to return a year later and put up a fight. We shifted from an invader to an occupier in a matter of days, instead of an invader in a matter of days instead of months, and the enemies we expected to obliterate in open combat, survived to fight later. So yes, we were unprepared for the post-war, because the post-war came much sooner than anyone expected. Second, Paul Bremer (who I believe is doing the best he can with a bad situation) to my knowledge reports directly to the White House, not to the Defense Department. While the CPA works with the military and I'm sure in many instances dictates mission parameters, I don't think that it is part of the military.

So we're back to symbolism. What signal could Rumsfeld's resignation send, and more importantly to whom? If it's merely a signal to the American people (aka the voters) then shame on all of those who would try to score political points with such a move (both Dems and Reps). Too often we see cynical and wrong-headed actions simply to appease pollsters, pundits, and their kind. If it's to send a signal to Iraqis, then I think the effort is misguided. I find it hard to believe that the average Iraqi (or other Arabs for that matter) will hate us any less if Rumsfeld resigns. As long as we have troops on their soil, right or wrong, they will hate us, and maybe even longer than that.

I won't try to deny that things are going badly in Iraq, or at least that they're on the knife's edge. But I believe that Donald Rumsfeld is one of the most intelligent, articulate, and capable leaders in the Bush administration. A good manager will reprimand, redirect, or will remotivate their teams in order to change the course of events, but as long as they have confidence in their subordinates' abilities, they don't replace them. I believe that Rumsfeld is still the best man for the job of Secretary of Defense and I think that any future calls for his resignation should come with a suggestion of who would do the job better.


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