Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rummy Redux

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the news again -- this time for a shockingly glib and unserious response to a soldier's questioning of the lack of armor for Army vehicles in Iraq. As recounted by Fred Kaplan in Slate:

At a cavernous hangar in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, the secretary of defense appeared before 2,300 soldiers to boost their morale before they headed off to Iraq. During a question-and-answer period, Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, a unit that consists mainly of reservists from the Tennessee Army National Guard, spoke up to complain about their inadequate supply of armor.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" Wilson asked, setting off what the Associated Press described as "a big cheer" from his comrades in arms.

Rumsfeld paused, asked Wilson to repeat the question, then finally replied, "You go to war with the army you have." Besides, he added, "You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can be blown up."

Such a leader of men.

As Kaplan points out, the planning for the Iraq incursion began in earnest soon after 9/11. It wasn't a case of going to war with the army you have. The U.S. went to war with the Army its leadership wanted -- for the war it declared over on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.

The core issue, though, is what Kaplan points out here:

Last month, the day after Bush won re-election, I wrote that he now faced a test. He could rouse himself out of his campaign mode, take a serious look at the world, face up to mistakes he might have made, and do something to correct them—or he could stay mired in fantasy. One sign of which way he was headed would be whether he fired Rumsfeld and his neocon entourage or let them stay. He has now taken that test, and we all see the grim results.

"Mired in fantasy" seems to be the recurring theme of the entire Bush term of office. Don't expect that to change in the next four years.


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