Rummy's Gotta Go: But Will Bush Hit Delete?
Rummy's Gotta Go -- But Will Bush Hit the Delete Button?
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers
Bush says he won't rid his administration of Donald Rumsfeld, which tells us all we need to know about what the next four years will be like -- IF the election challenges in Ohio and elsewhere don't explode in Dubya's face and he actually is sworn in a month from now for a second term.
Bush and Rumsfeld are happy to use U.S. troops and National Guard and Reserves, but they do not take care of them on the ground, or when they are no longer useful to the war effort. To Bush&Co., it appears, soldiers are merely the cannon fodder necessary in order to fulfill their political goals. Spin, fold, mutilate the troops, but don't provide them with the protection and services they need.
Bush has never, not once, attended a funeral service for a soldier killed in the line of duty in Iraq. Rumsfeld didn't even have the sensitivity to sign the letters of condolence personally to the families of those killed in the war. Prior to being outed on this issue, Rumsfeld used an automatic signature machine to sign his letters. (But he, and apparently ## Bush as well, [ http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=17216&c=206 ] did sign the orders authorizing "harsh" methods of interrogation -- read: torture.)
When a soldier recently complained to Rumsfeld in public about the lack of proper armoring of vehicles in the Iraq theater, Rumsfeld hemmed and hawed and went all defensive, seeking to make the issue the "physics" of supply rather than how outrageous the situation was and vowing to get the required armor on the humvees and trucks on an emergency basis. The manufacturer of such armor admitted that they could produce 22% more of the hard stuff if requested to do so, but Rumsfeld's Pentagon had never made such a request -- even though it had been alerted to the armoring problem a year earlier.
EAT YOUR HOSPITAL FOOD AND LEAVE A BIG TIP
So don't tell me about how well Bush&Co. look out for our soldiers. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent, and another $100 billion about to be requested, to fight the war in Iraq -- much of that money winding up in the coffers of giant corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton -- and the Pentagon was, for a time, charging wounded soldiers for their food in military hospitals.
If this is compassionate conservatism, what does mean-spirited care look like?
Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney refuse to admit that they're capable of mistakes; in this case, that they went into the Iraq Occupation several hundred thousand troops short of what was required, and couldn't even police the huge arms dumps all over Iraq, which were and are providing the insurgents with explosives and weapons that kill and maim U.S. troops.
The result of such incompetence and mismanagement, and fantasy-based war strategy -- including the belief that the Iraqi defense forces will fight valiantly on the U.S. side -- is that the small U.S. military force in Iraq is stretched way too thin; they can't even adequately defend the oil they were sent there to grab. Thus, as in Afghanistan, the U.S. military is incapable of effective nation-building.
Further, the U.S. military is constantly fighting reactive battles using the same few recycled troops. Join the National Guard and Reserves and wind up in Iraq, and be forced back to that country, again and again and again; try to leave Iraq after fulfilling your tour of duty and you're "stop-lossed" back into the front lines. And that's not even mentioning the likelihood of being sent to war elsewhere -- maybe Syria or Iran -- as the neo-cons ratchet up the war rhetoric for more "shock&awe" campaigns.
DESERTION/ENLISTMENT RATES NO SURPRISE
No wonder the U.S. desertion rate is so high, why the re-enlistment numbers are way down, why it's so difficult to get new recruits to sign up, and why a soldier would get a friend to shoot him in the leg rather than to have to return to Iraq. These young men and women are not dumb; they know they're being sent down a rathole where they are vulnerable to being killed and maimed because of the bungling war policies of a civilian leadership that made sure they never had to fight in a war.
Those troops also realize that all the justifications for being in Iraq in the first place are phony or non-existent: there were no stockpiles of WMDs, no connection between Saddam and 9/11, no meaningful relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq. So, U.S. soldiers ask themselves: Why are we still here, and what are we fighting for, really?
If they've tried to figure it out, they might well have come to the conclusion that Iraq was of no danger to the U.S. or its neighbors, was contained by U.N. sanctions, had no major weaponry and no means (or desire) to attack the U.S. -- but it did possess the second-largest oil reserve in the world, and the neoconservatives in charge of U.S. foreign/military policy did/do want to use Iraq as a demonstration model for altering the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East.
The Bush Administration, not content with its policy of "pre-emptive" war -- that is, attacking countries to prevent them from someday confronting the U.S. -- has come up with plans for ##"pre-emptive" pre-emption: ( http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=26122 ) moving to intervene in countries long before there is any real future threat.
In other words, U.S. troops are being used for neo-imperialistic purposes that have little to do with the reasons for war provided them or the American public.
And, as in another such war forty years ago, in Vietnam, the U.S. is in a country it does not understand, fighting a shadowy nationalist enemy that wants to kick out its Occupiers, and whose citizens are enraged by how the U.S. forces treat the local inhabitants: destroying villages in order to "save" them, torturing and sexually assaulting prisoners in their care (with only the grunts being placed on trial), shooting first and asking questions later, giant corporations robbing the country blind, bombing from the air, 100,000 civilians dead, etc.
HERE'S YOUR HAT, WHAT'S YOUR HURRY?
As a result of such a botched Occupation, if fair and honest elections are actually held in Iraq, the result is likely to be a theocratic Islamic government that demands the U.S. leave ASAP. But the U.S. has other plans; it has built the largest embassy in the Middle East, established 14 military bases in Iraq, and wants to use its presence there to force other Arab rulers in the area to bend to its will. What then?
And so, despite the fact that everyone realizes Rumsfeld has made, and is continuing to make, a thorough disaster of the war in Iraq, he likely will remain as Secretary of Defense. Even GOP heavies are calling for him to resign, but in the name of party unity, they most likely will do nothing more overt to make that happen. He will stay because of what he represents to Bush&Co.
Bush certainly has no intention of bowing to such removal-pressure from within his own party or from partisan Democrats. To get rid of Rumsfeld would be to tacitly admit that the Bush policies with regard to Iraq -- from how he lied and misled the country into the war to how it's being waged -- were a big mistake, and that someone might have to be held accountable for the FUBAR that is the Iraq war. And the Bush administration does not do accountability. (Which helps explain why Bush recently gave out Medals of Freedom to George Tenet, Paul Bremer and Tommy Franks, three key architects of the Iraq debacle. It's called spin and CYA -- and keep your lips zipped, boys.)
So, if Rumsfeld is permitted to stay on, the American citizenry is going to have to gird itself for hundreds and thousands more American dead and maimed, for tens of thousands more Iraqi civilian casualties, for hundreds of billions more tax dollars being flushed down that rathole (while important social services go underfunded at home), for more isolation and hatred abroad and more terrorist attacks coming our way, for an economy that likely will start to decompose even more in the next several years, for more central governmental intrusion into our private lives, for a worsening quality of air and water, for more deterioration of our infrastructure of bridges and roads and schools, and on and on.
But, presumably, the Red states that may have given George Bush a second term won't mind, because men and women who love each other will have been publicy chastized by the voters. Apparently, that's the only issue that really counts in our society. Bash gays, and don't sweat the other stuff. Glad the voters got their priorities straight.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government/international relations at various universities, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle for 19 years, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers ( www.crisispapers.org).