Rumsfeld Faces A Question
posted Dec 26, 2004 at 02:34PM
Ideologues like Rumsfeld are usually careful to avoid uncontrolled environments. They do not want to face questions that deal with the actual results of their policies. Instead they want to concentrate on the glowing success that the ideology will deliver at some undetermined point in the future.
The promise? That Iraq will be turned into a Western style liberal democracy whose example will force the rest the Middle East to give up its most extreme expressions of religious fundamentalism and join the community of nations.
The reality is that Iraq is a chaotic lawless state whose future holds either a civil war, or the election of a right wing religious theocracy. This latter would have more in common with Iran, who appears to be next on the US hit list, than a country like say, France..
In early December, 2004, Rumsfeld was speaking to soldiers in a staging area in Kuwait prior to deployment north to Iran. In other words we had a theoretician talking to the other end of the spectrum: your basic private who has his head totally wrapped around the practical realities of trying to implement those policies.
It was not just the question - a simple one of why the troops did not have armored HumVees; it was also the tone..one of defiance, challenge, of rebuke. You could tell Rumsfeld was rattled and got knocked off his game. At first he pretended to not understand the question; a tactical error in itself . Usually ideologues, when faced with a question where no good answer exists, use the gambit of simply answering a different question to which they do have a suitable answer.
Of course the soldier did re-ask the question. Like an adult speaking to a child and with a resounding background of hoots and chortles from fellow soldiers. From a masculine point of view Rumsfeld was being systematically disrobed. His initial reaction? An abject plea for mercy:
"Now settle down, settle down. Hell, I'm an old man, and it's early in the morning. I'm just gathering my thoughts here,"
Of course this begs the question that if a man is incapable of handling a simple question on logistics from a soldier, what is he doing running the entire US military?
Rumsfeld, from ideological perspective soon regained his footing. Rumsfeld commenced his counterattack, which had two objectives. First, to show that the question itself was irrelevant. The other was to show that anyone who would even ask such a question was not up to facing the harsh realities of war - that they were weak, naive..indeed cowardly.
"If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank, and a tank can still be blown up"
One is almost overwhelmed by the incongruity of the situation. The whole concept of a civilian telling soldiers that they might be killed, no matter what, has to go down as one of the greatest motherhood bromides of all time.
Every soldier going into combat is well aware that he might get killed. They know that even the most highly trained professional soldier can get his head blown by an errant bullet fired by a 12 year old high on mushrooms.
And at the same time every soldier, from experience, from history, from sheer common sense understands that an army with highly trained soldiers, will do better than an army composed of poorly trained soldiers.
In the context of Rumsfeld's comments everyone also knows that a armored Hum-Vee is more survivable than a unarmored Hum-Vee, that a Bradley is better than any Hum-Vee and an Abrams tank is even better.
Just ask those Iraqi soldiers that were going mano a mano against M-1's with their pick-up trucks.
You have to wonder why the Americans are even diddling around with trying to upgrade what are essentially jeeps...It is not like they don't have enough armored vehicles in stock. And yet Rumsfeld, again posing as the bearer of uncomfortable truths goes on to say,
"As you know, you go to war with army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time"
Again as a piece of linear logic the statement appears as unassailable universal truth. The only problem is that it does not apply to the situation in Iraq..
After all the army that Rumsfeld "has", is only the most powerful army ever to exist in planetary history.. Rumsfeld has a defense budget that exceeds the defense budgets of the next fifteen countries combined. .It is an army that has received delivery of over 8000 tanks and 6500 Bradley fighting vehicles. It is an army, that on being tasked with the invasion of Iraq, was ready, willing and able to commit in excess of 460,000 troops.
So it's not like Rumsfeld was dealt a bum set of cards here.
Added surrealism comes from the fact that the army Rumsfeld has in Iraq is exactly the army that he wanted. Rumsfeld came into the Pentagon with the thesis that heavy armored forces were passe, and the US military would have to change to face new realities. He wanted a force structure more reliant on special forces, and light, easily transportable forces all leveraged with US air power
Of course in selling the Iraq invasion, Rumsfeld and the remainder of the neocon brain trust insisted that it would be easy. Linear logic told them resistance would be non-existent and that the populace would be very supportive.
The Iraq conflict shows how misplaced this notion has been. Even in the initial "invasion" phase of the war, the Abrams proved to be the key deciding factor. When ever Marines got bogged down, it was due to a lack of tanks, and things did not get unbogged until more tanks was brought up to the front. The planned advance from the North was a complete non-starter despite the presence of special forces and airborne troops backed by air-power. Things did not get moving until the US finally air lifted four Abrams onto the scene, and only then was forward progress made.
That the war is going badly should be no surprise. Rumsfeld and his fellow neo conservatives are creatures of ideology and linear logic. The need to militarily control the Middle East was conceived by linear logic in right wing think tanks. Linear logic shaped the events of 9-11 as a a suitable pretext. Linear logic shaped, and when necessary, manufactured intelligence, to produce a threat sufficient to gravely damage the USA and justify pre-emptive action. At the same time, in order to sell the invasion, linear logic dictated that resistance would be non-extant, that the populace would be supportive and that Iraqi oil would pay for the entire exercies. Linear logic then proceeded to plan and execute the war accordingly
All along the way linear logic justified the silencing and demonization of any views that questioned this entire process.
Vietnam was also a war run on linear logic. There you had the self-proclaimed "best and brightest", headed by MacNamara, who thought that you could run an army, and a war, with the same methodology used to punch out inanimate objects on an assembly line.
The results were a losing war, a military in tatters, economic stagflation and a loss of stature in the world's eyes that was not fully recovered until the late 90's.
The results this time will not only be the same - they will be worse.
The above is written for educational/entertainment purposes only. Under no circumstances should it be mistaken for professional investment advice. The commentary simply reflects the opinion of the authour on the current status of the market. It is prone to error and to change with no notice which itself is again prone to error.