Rumsey on his way out the door?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ARogueTrader, Oct 22, 2003.

  1. After grim Rumsfeld memo, White House supports him

    By Dave Moniz and Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY

    WASHINGTON — The United States has no yardstick for measuring progress in the war on terrorism, has not "yet made truly bold moves" in fighting al-Qaeda and other terror groups, and is in for a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a memo that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent to top-ranking Defense officials last week.

    Rumsfeld discussed various topics including the situation in Iraq and troop morale during a news conference at the Pentagon Thursday.

    Three members of Congress who met with Rumsfeld Wednesday morning said the defense secretary gave them copies of the memo and discussed it with them.

    "He's asking the tough questions we all need to be asking," said Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas.

    Despite upbeat statements by the Bush administration, the memo to Rumsfeld's top staff reveals significant doubts about progress in the struggle against terrorists. Rumsfeld says that "it is not possible" to transform the Pentagon quickly enough to effectively fight the anti-terror war and that a "new institution" might be necessary to do that. (Related item: Rumsfeld's memo)

    White House press secretary Scott McClellan, traveling with President Bush in Australia, reacted by voicing support for Rumsfeld. "That's exactly what a strong and capable secretary of defense like Secretary Rumsfeld should be doing," said McClellan.

    "The president has always said it will require thinking differently. It's a different type of war," McClellan said.

    The memo, which diverges sharply from Rumsfeld's mostly positive public comments, offers one of the most candid and sobering assessments to date of how top administration officials view the 2-year-old war on terrorism. It suggests that significant work remains and raises a number of probing questions but few detailed proposals.

    "Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?" Rumsfeld asks in the Oct. 16 memo, which goes on to cite "mixed results" against al-Qaeda, "reasonable progress" tracking down top Iraqis and "somewhat slower progress" in apprehending Taliban leaders. "Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get'? " he wrote.

    Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita declined to comment specifically on the memo, but he said Rumsfeld's style is to "ask penetrating questions" to provoke candid discussion. "He's trying to keep a sense of urgency alive."

    Among Rumsfeld's observations in the two-page memo:

    • The United States is "just getting started" in fighting the Iraq-based terror group Ansar Al-Islam.

    • The war is hugely expensive. "The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' cost of millions."

    • Postwar stabilization efforts are very difficult. "It is pretty clear the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog."

    The memo was sent to Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Douglas Feith, undersecretary of Defense for policy.

    Rumsfeld asks whether the Defense Department is moving fast enough to adapt to fighting terrorists and whether the United States should create a private foundation to entice radical Islamic schools to a "more moderate course." Rumsfeld says the schools, known as madrassas, may be churning out new terrorists faster than the United States can kill or capture them.

    The memo is not a policy statement, but a tool for shaping internal discussion. It highlights a Rumsfeld trait that supporters say is one of his greatest strengths: a willingness to challenge subordinates to constantly reassess problems. The memo prods Rumsfeld's most senior advisers to think in new ways about the war on terrorism at a time when many are preoccupied with the 7-month-old war in Iraq.

    In public, the Bush administration has been upbeat in describing the war on terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft has noted that two-thirds of al-Qaeda's leadership has been captured or killed.
  2. msfe


    2/3 of Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar ... with the remaining 1/3 still at large ?
  3. IMO, Rumsfeld's openly voiced concerns are <b>far more comforting</b> than the usual 'everything is just peachy, nothing to worry about' rhetoric of the Bush administration.

    Give me the harsh truth over rosy lies any day.
  4. This war on terrorism reminds me of the war on drugs. We spend gargantuan sums, infringe on law abiding citizens' civil liberties, vastly expand the size of government and fill prisons with minor violators, yet achieve little in the way of sustainable results. In both "wars", our enemies obtain substantial assistance from countries that are supposedly our friends and allies, eg Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan.

    The major difference is the stakes are vastly higher in the war on terrorism. Even after 9/11 and after the hundreds of billions of dollars spent, I sense that people really don't accept that we are in a life or death struggle. For many groups, maintaining political correctness appears more important than security. Others are not prepared to put lucrative commercial ventures at risk in the name of security. It is a given that the public will not accept military casualties above a very low level.

    There are two ways to defeat terrorism. Method one is to create Fortress America. Thsi would require us to basically end all immigration and visa issuance from troublesome areas. Islamic immigration would be barred. We would probably have to break off diplomatic relations with most of the middle east and major Islamic countries like Indonesia. US citizens who originated in these areas would be subject to intense scrutiny. Our borders would have to be monitored closely with large military forces. Incoming flights and shipping would require high levels of security and inspection.

    As unpleasant as that sounds, life within the country would become more normal. No more security hassles at the airport, no more code orange etc.

    Method two requires nothing less than the overthrow and submission of all states involved in supporting or hosting terrorism. The list is obviously a lengthy one. As a practical matter, the US cannot do this on its own, unless it is prepared to launch preemptive nuclear strikes at countries all over the globe. As we have seen in Iraq, even after subduing a hostile state it is no simple matter to turn it into a law abiding country that can be trusted.