"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Rummy Rumsfeld, criticizing the media’s peculiar habit of focusing on the negative: “To be responsible, one needs to stop defining success in Iraq as the absence of terrorist attacks.” That’s one of the best Rummyisms yet.
But then, how hard is it to catch Our Bagman in Baghdad saying something stupid? After all, he's been on a roll lately:
If U.S. forces leave too soon, Iraq will become a haven for terrorists and the base of a spreading Islamic superstate that would threaten the rest of the world, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday.
Speaking at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Rumsfeld warned that al-Qaida leaders such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden would seize power in the wake of an American withdrawal and turn Iraq into the kind of terrorist safe haven that Afghanistan was before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks....
The Bush administration has been warning of the dangers of a new caliphate - an Islamic superstate based on Islamic laws with religious and political authority over much of the Muslim world - to bolster waning support for its policy in Iraq.
The message is similar to the domino theory that U.S. officials used 40 years ago to muster support for the Vietnam War by arguing that abandoning South Vietnam would allow the communists to conquer neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Much as the original domino theory overlooked the tensions between the Soviet Union and China, the power of nationalism and the appeal of prosperity, Rumsfeld's remarks neglected the deep animosity between Sunni Muslim extremists such as bin Laden and Iraq's Shiite majority. It also discounts the differences among predominately Muslim countries from Morocco to Indonesia.
A Sunni-dominated caliphate is unlikely in Iraq, where Shiites make up 60 percent of the population, said Akbar Ahmed, the chair of Islamic Studies at American University, and a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom. While fundamentalists on both sides say they like the idea of clerical government, Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting one another.
In fairness, of course, Rummy is half-right. There is a serious danger of an Islamic fundamentalist regime taking over Iraq, but it won't be led by Sunni extremists like bin Laden - instead, it will be allied with the Shi'ite government of Iran. And for that we can thank Rummy himself, along with his sidekick and favorite Iranian agent, Ahmad Chalabi.
But the nice thing about being Rummy is that when you get caught saying something stupid, you can always monkey around with reality until it matches your delusions. Consider:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has ordered military commanders to come up with clear rules for how U.S. troops around the world should respond if they witness mistreatment of detainees by other forces outside the United States, a senior defense official said yesterday.
The move follows evident confusion last week between Rumsfeld and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, over what rules currently apply in Iraq. Rumsfeld had stated at a Pentagon news conference that U.S. forces were obligated simply to report mistreatment of Iraqis by Iraqi forces, only to be contradicted by Pace, who insisted U.S. forces were further required to try to stop the abuse.
The exchange prompted Rumsfeld to seek a more detailed explanation of the rules in Iraq, according to an aide, and it appears Pace may have overstated the policy. An initial review by senior Pentagon officials indicated that the rules, while requiring troops to take action if they witness Iraqi mistreatment, do not seem to make clear how far U.S. troops should go.
By the way, good luck to Gen. Pace - I hope you enjoy your retirement, and say "hi" to Gen. Shinseki for us!