Juan Cole On Rummy’s Departing Shot

This is the only coherent analysis we have seen of Rumsfeld’s last (secret) memo before being summarily dismissed from the office of Defense Secretary.

Rumsfeld’s Shocking Memo; Over 100 Dead in Sectarian Violence

1. Rumsfeld doesn’t understand the magnitude of the crisis or the tightrope the US is walking in the Gulf. His attitude is almost lackadaisical. Doing an all right job, but it isn’t working fast enough or well enough. So maybe make some changes — apparently any old changes will do because there are infinite lives to play with and infinite monies to spend.

2. Rumsfeld spends more time plotting out how to manipulate the American public than how to win the war. Everything is about spin, about giving the image of progress even in the face of a rapid downward spiral into the abyss. Consider these phrases:

‘Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi Government and the U.S. — political, economic and security goals — to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made) . . .

Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis. This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not “lose.”

Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist. . . ‘

It is about how we talk, how we are perceived to set goals, what is made to look like progress. It isn’t actually about getting progress. The point of going minimalist is to reduce expectations among the American public. If you tell them you can only move the ball a yard, you get a lot of points for moving it two yards.

Read the rest here.

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