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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Homespun Symposium VI

I have decided to participate in this week's Homespun Symposium by asking the following question to the Homespun Bloggers community:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld now finds himself in the midst of the bitter and often cruel politics which have become a hallmark of the D.C. political landscape. In the past few weeks Rumsfeld has weathered criticism over his handling of the ambush-like question planted by a reporter during a question and answer session with the troops, the defense secretary has received harsh indictments from the likes of John McCain and Trent Lott, and Rumsfeld has endured embarrassing exposés fueled by Pentagon leaks.

Is all the controversy surrounding Rumsfeld justified? In your opinion, are these attacks on the defense secretary fair? And finally - borrowing a slightly modified line from The Clash - should he (Rumsfeld) stay or should he go now?
Now, before I begin with my own response I would like to apologize to the readers of Esoteric * Diatribe for my sparse blogging as of late. My work schedule has made a night and day reversal in the past few weeks leaving me precious little time. That being said...

My recent spat about liberal Republican loud-mouth John McCain came only a day or two before McCain railed Defense Secretary Rumsfeld saying that he (McCain) had, "no confidence" in Rumsfeld.

A few weeks earlier McCain said of Rumsfeld
I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence.
It is no surprise to media watchers that a media-whore like McCain would say darn near anything that would make himself more popular with the press. My initial take on this story was that McCain was simply cashing in on the anti-Rumsfeld trend that seemed to take root following the ambush question at the Q&A Rumsfeld had with the soldiers a few weeks back. You may recall the question:
"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?"
In all fairness, the question was pretty ridiculous. Not only was this question NOT crafted by one of the soldiers (the question was planted by an embedded news reporter trying to make his bones) but this would be tantamount to a WWII soldier asking why his jeep or truck didn't have the same basic armor as a tank.

The Humvee is basically the modern military's version of the jeep. Alhough Humvees can be equipped with additional armor, it is not intended as an heavily armored vehicle... the Humvee is nothing more than truck intended to get soldiers quickly from point A to point B OR to add support to a convoy. The Humvee wasn't designed to be a tank capable of withstanding an all-out assault. The Humvee is just a truck with a 50 cal mounted to the top. But enough about why I think the question was stupid...

The point is that this question got the ball rolling in the media and lit a fire under the libs to start attacking our Secretary of Defense (our Secretary of War, really) Donald Rumsfeld. The press didn't fairly report Rumsfeld's response to the question. Read the following if you think otherwise:
The first thing the Defense Secretary said was: "I talked to the general coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I'm told that they are being - the Army is - I think it's something like 400 a month are being done. And it's essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it."

It was only then that Mr. Rumsfeld made what was taken by the troops – who subsequently gave him a standing ovation - as an unexceptionable observation: "As you know, you go to war with the army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." While the soundbite typically began and ended with those two sentences, Rummy added a further assurance: "Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate they believe - it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously - but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment." He went on in this deliberate, responsible vein for several minutes more.

Imagine the Secretary’s surprise when, after these remarks were selectively quoted and repeatedly broadcast in the most unflattering light, the manufacturer of armored Humvees announced he could actually increase production further. More public castigation of Rumsfeld followed.

Never mind that Secretary Rumsfeld had been given contrary information as recently as when he was enroute to his townhall meeting with the troops. It is a cheap shot to denounce Rummy for answering as he did when, to the best of his knowledge, the Army was doing everything humanly possible to meet the current needs. Upon discovering otherwise, full production was ordered.
I think this is as good a refutation as any of the misrepresentation being done in the media as to what was said by Rumsfeld in response to the planted question. The only thing I'd heard from the mainstream media outlets was the quick soundbite:
As you know, you go to war with the army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time
Without the internet, the masses wouldn't even have the opportunity to hear the truth because the press is so agenda driven... there is no way that one could come to an accurate assessment that the media was being fair to Rumsfeld. Take for instance, Ignorance fuels Rumsfeld attack.

Nevertheless, the ball kept rolling and the attacks and angry voices calling for Rumsfeld to resign continue...
Lott Joins Anti-Rumsfeld Chorus: "I would like to see a change..."
Bayh: Rumsfeld Should Resign: "I have lost confidence in him."
Coleman steps up criticism of Rumsfeld "what you are hearing is that legitimate concerns have been raised, that they need to be addressed, that has caused some undermining of confidence in the secretary of defense. And I would hope that the president would take a close look at that, perhaps at a more appropriate point in time."
Criticism Mounts on Recent Rumsfeld Remarks
Calls Get Louder For Rumsfeld's Resignation
Poll: Rumsfeld losing public's support
Majority of Americans want Rumsfeld out
Congress Criticizes Rumsfeld Over Letters
This list could go on ad naseum.

So I return to my question: Is all the controversy surrounding Rumsfeld justified? In a word, no.

There are basically two types of Rumsfeld haters, the libs who hate him because he is doing a good job and they have always hated him anyway, and the old-school hawks who think the Powell Doctrine, slow Goliath, overly bloated military divisions working alone to win the war approach is the ONLY approach to armed combat. Apparently those guys think working in concert means 4 star generals bickering back and forth in the Pentagon about how the money should be divvied up and why their branch is the only branch capable of winning the war.

The old-school hawks want a larger army, a larger presence in Iraq, more weapons spending, etc etc ect. Because Rumsfeld used what was available: a smaller but more effective military that is fast-moving, muti-divisional, and less dependent on massive troop build-ups, the old school hawks want him out. The libs just never wanted him in the first place.

I think Steve Yuhas, who wrote Rumsfeld should stay: John McCain should Resign has it right in pointing out, "As far back as early 2002 liberals in this country (and even more who live in Europe) have been calling on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign." Steve is right, this isn't something new. In fact, this has been going on for quite some time. Steve basically says everythign I am thinking about the recent Rumsfeld situation right down to:
As to the latter criticism by family members who are not getting an autograph in their condolence letter, the Secretary of Defense will now sign all of the condolence notes personally; what a great victory for people who lost a loved one in war.
I echo the call on Senator McCain to resign.

My second question, 'are these attacks on the defense secretary fair', depends on how you look at it. I do not think it is fair for Senators, who write the laws that fund the war, to criticize the Secretary of defense - who has no control over defense appropriations - regarding issues for which the Congress is responsible. I do think it is important for people to question whether we are doing enough for our troops; but I don't think these agenda driven attacks on Rumsfeld have anything at all to do with concern over the safety and well being of our troops.

Lastly, "Should he stay or should he go?" Rummy better stay. America needs the Donald Rumsfeld's of the world. America is lucky to have him. I would vote for Rumsfeld for president in a heartbeat and I would campaign for him 24-7 if he ever decided to run. I am that confident in Donald Rumsfeld.

The senators who have chastized him ought to be ashamed. The media who misreported on the recent controversy, opting for a juicy soundbite instead of the truth, ought to be replaced. The President, who stood by his Defense Secretary in the latest hyped-up snafu, ought to be commended.

Others who blogged about this topic

Little Red Blog
Being Thomas Luongo
The Redhunter
Major Dad 1984
Ogre's Politics and Views
The Commons at Paulie World

Web Esoteric * Diatribe
Great Americans
Ronald Reagan
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Frederick Douglas
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