GREGORY SCOBLETE on Rumsfeld, Gates, and the war:
In the rush to heap opprobrium on an unpopular figure, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that on several fundamental issues of how America exercises its military power, Rumsfeld was right and his critics are wrong.
Rumsfeld’s vision of transformation has always been far too parsimonious for neoconservatives, who championed an American Empire and waxed nostalgic for the British Colonial Office. To the military’s traditional role of defeating and deterring conventional nation states, Rumsfeld labored to add the ability to quickly locate, target and destroy terrorist cells and facilities around the globe and to accomplish these tasks remotely, minimizing U.S. casualties. Such a vision demanded a lean, agile and networked force. It was not, however, the neocolonial occupation army demanded by his critics.
Rumsfeld was clearly the odd man out in an administration that jettisoned its realist sensibilities in the aftermath of 9/11 in favor of a more ambitious use of American power. His preference to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis quickly stood in stark contrast to the administration’s professed aims of constructing a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. His desire for a rapid exit undoubtedly hastened Iraq’s sectarian fragmentation, but such a fragmentation was inevitable. The U.S simply did not possess enough manpower to accomplish what Rumsfeld’s critics wanted to in Iraq.
I think that’s right. An extra 20 or 30 thousand troops isn’t enough to make a qualitative difference in our approach; that would take a half million or more, and we don’t have that many to send. And even that wouldn’t be enough, so long as Iran and Syria had — as they have — a virtually free hand to stir up trouble.
UPDATE: Hmm: “Exit Rumsfeld, Smiling.”