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Donald Rumsfeld’s dirty laundry
Donald Rumsfeld’s dirty laundry
New revelations about the former US defence secretary show him to be an even bigger disaster than you thought
It’s unknowable whether the September 11 attacks could have been averted, but a more responsible administration certainly would have paid closer attention to the warnings about al-Qaida coming from people like Richard Clarke – who the Bush administration demoted.
Friday, May 22,2009 18:45
by Matthew Duss Guardian Weekly

For those who"ve been paying attention to the Iraq war, the managerial incompetence of Donald Rumsfeld is no secret. In his memoir of his year in Iraq, former US proconsul Paul Bremer reports numerous maddening incidences of Rumsfeld"s mercurial intransigence and micromanaging as he oversaw Iraq"s descent into insurgency in the early days of the US occupation.

Stanford scholar and US occupation adviser Larry Diamond, whose book Squandered Victory documents numerous missteps in the US attempt to reconstruct the shattered Iraqi state, told Foreign Policy magazine in 2006: "I think history will skewer Donald Rumsfeld," calling him "on balance one of the most disastrous secretaries of defense since the position was created after World War II."

An astonishing new GQ piece by Robert Draper, also the author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W Bush, goes even further into Rumsfeld"s bad habits. Among the article"s revelations: Rumsfeld held up deploying US troops to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans for five days after the hurricane hit. Rumsfeld had a, shall we say, rather old-fashioned attitude toward his female colleagues. And a number of the Pentagon"s Worldwide Intelligence Updates, often delivered by Rumsfeld by hand to the president, featured inspirational Bible verses – apparently to appeal to the president"s own devout Christianity, which Rumsfeld himself apparently does not share.

It says a heck of a lot, of course, that so many of Rumsfeld"s former colleagues were willing to air so much dirty laundry. Lamely trying to defend Rumsfeld in a Green Room interview after ABC"s This Week, Liz Cheney – whose father Dick Cheney was Rumsfeld"s protégé in the Ford administration, and later his key ally in Bush"s – lamented the "piling on of secretary Rumsfeld that we"ve seen in the liberal media". Co-panelist James Carville reminded her that Draper had been given unprecedented access to the Bush White House, certainly not something that the notoriously secretive administration was likely to do for some leftwing hack.

Rumsfeld, like Cheney, was good primarily at one thing: political and bureaucratic warfare. He knew how to work the system, to play competing factions off each other in order to get his way. In those instances where he didn"t get his way, he knew how to gum up the works for those who did – as when Rumsfeld was able to delay for five years the creation of military commissions for terror detainees.

Had his tenure not occurred during some of the most consequential events in recent American history, Rumsfeld may have just been able to muddle through – something that is also true of the administration he served. But then, it was partly because of choices he and his bosses made that made these years so devastatingly consequential.

In reading and rehearsing once again the follies of Donald Rumsfeld, there"s a danger of pinning too large a share of the blame him that appropriately belongs to the men who hired, empowered and defended him: George Bush and Dick Cheney.

It"s unknowable whether the September 11 attacks could have been averted, but a more responsible administration certainly would have paid closer attention to the warnings about al-Qaida coming from people like Richard Clarke – who the Bush administration demoted.

A more responsible administration probably would not have declared war on a few thousand Islamic extremists – thereby confirming their status as a global revolutionary vanguard. A more responsible administration probably would not have invaded and then abandoned Afghanistan. A more responsible administration almost certainly would not have invaded Iraq.

It was America"s bad luck that they happened to be on the job.

The Source


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