All the secrets fit to print: The blabbermouths at the NYTimes got a hold of a classified memo from Don Rumsfeld exploring Iraq war options and splashed it all over its front page for all the world and America’s enemies to read.
Andy McCarthy, as always, has a succinct and incisive reaction to both the Times’ publication of the memo and of the memo’s substance:
Another day, another explosive classified leak published in the New York Times.
This time, it’s a November memo from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to the White House, urging a complete rethinking of military strategy in Iraq. The Times today publishes the classified memo in conjunction with its page-one story.
The memo itself is extraordinarily interesting, even to us non-military types, especially given (a) how little regard Sec’y Rumsfeld seems to have for a lot of the strategy either currently being employed or likely to be proposed by the Iraq Study Group; and (b) how Rumsfeld seems a lot more interested in quick strike capability against al Qaeda and Iran elements than having U.S. forces enmeshed in Iraq’s sectarian infighting…
…My strictly non-military observation, based on many years in government, is: We appear to be in for two years of increasing dysfunction.
If high officials — in wartime, no less — figure they better not give their best, most candid advice on sensitive, publicly-charged issues because opposing policy factions are going to leak each other’s memos to the press, the initiative and creativity of the smart people we want in government is stifled. And the leaks will be used to portray the administration as disintegrating into rancorous chaos, which avalanche feeds on itself.
Like watching a train-wreck in slow motion.
Ed Morrissey suspects the leak came from Rumsfeld’s camp and wonders if the rabid Rumsfeld-bashers will lighten up now:
[I]t will be interesting after this memo to see how the press and the Democrats approach Rumsfeld. They have made him the Devil incarnate for the last three years for his prosecution of the war. Now that he has endorsed a lighter approach to Iraq, similar to what the media and the opposition have demanded, will they rehabilitate Rumsfeld as a “wise man” on the war? I suspect they will if the Bush administration continues to remain unwilling to adopt whatever recommendations the ISG provides in their report this week. We will see Rumsfeld interviewed on major talk shows in a much more respectful manner, asked to expand on the thoughts in this memo and his evaluation of why we need a “major adjustment”.
Jules Crittenden, not a Rumsfeld fan, offers his deconstruction.
Mark Levin: “I think in time Donald Rumsfeld will be seen as an extraordinary force for good, including at the Pentagon.”
Robert Spencer reacts to Rumsfeld’s assessment that things are not working well in Iraq: “We’ve been trying to tell him this for years. But none of the options involve adopting an effective defensive posture against jihad activity.”
You can read up on much more reaction from both sides over at Memeorandum.
More: Dan Riehl…
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What I sensed in reading the actual memo was just how much Rumsfeld was opposed to nation building in Iraq. Left with that impression, I wonder if it wasn’t the final straw for Bush in deciding to let Rumsfeld go. The Bush policy, which I continue to support, by the way, is to establish democracy in the Middle East as a means of combating radical Islam with a long term solution that will actually work.
In Rumsfeld’s defense, he went to the Pentagon to reshape the American military into a technical-communications advanced, more compact fast strike force suited to what is anticipated to be the conflicts in our short-term future. But Bush had to go to war with the SecDef he had, just as Rumsfeld had to go to war with the military he had.
What troubled me about the memo is that it was long on options but absent any real advice, or solid proposal for a way out of Iraq. If I want a menu from someone I can visit a restaurant. I would imagine like many managers Bush wanted at least the proposal of an actual solution, something the memo failed to give. Maybe that stems from Rumsfeld’s distaste for the whole affair.
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