"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Soldiers in Kuwait peppered Rumsfeld with queries about the standard of equipment they would be using and about the Pentagon's "stop-loss" policy, which prevents troops from leaving the military service, even if they are eligible to retire or quit.
One soldier, identified by The Associated Press as Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, asked Rumsfeld why more military combat vehicles were not reinforced for battle conditions.
"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" he asked, prompting cheers from other soldiers attending the event....
"As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want," Rumsfeld said.
He added, "You can have all the armor in the world on a tank, and it can [still] be blown up."
Now that's supporting the troops!
Aside from Rumsfeld's generally cavalier attitude here - "Even if we gave you armor you'd just go get yourself blown up anyway, so why bother?" - I am struck by his odd use of the phrase "you have to go to war with the Army you have." Actually, no, you don't; not in this case, anyway. This was a war of choice from the very beginning. Iraq presented no threat to America or to American interests, and Rumsfeld knows that.
The war against Iraq was conceived years before 911 by a cabal of neocon theorists just itching for an excuse. In 1998, members of the Project for the New American Century sent a letter to then President Bill Clinton urging military action against the Hussein regime; among the signatories of this letter was a certain Mr. Rumsfeld. Then, when the towers fell on that terrible September morning, these same fanatics saw the opportunity they had been craving. Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (not coincidentally, another signatory of the 1998 letter) has admitted that plans to invade Iraq were formulated within two days of the attack, based on a "gut feeling" that Hussein might have been involved.
Whether or not you believe (as I do) that the Iraq war was a profoundly bad idea all along, there is no question but that (a) the timing of the invasion was completely flexible, and (b) planning for the invasion began at a very early date. There is absolutely no reason why the Army could not have been adequately equipped prior to deployment. If more time was needed to assure that proper equipment was in place, the invasion could easily have been delayed without cost.
Rumsfeld's petulant response to Spc. Wilson (I hope he wasn't counting on a promotion any time soon) is shameful. It is also dishonest and condescending. Rumsfeld is an embarassment, an utter failure who should be out of government service entirely, "spending more time with his family," as they say. Instead, he's in Kuwait, insulting the very men and women he is supposed to be leading.
He's a disgrace, and so is the Empty Flight Suit who keeps him on the payroll.