The New York Times obtained a leaked memo Rumsfeld wrote about possible 'new' directions in Iraq; the memo was written two days before Rummy resigned. Here is NYT analysis of the memo. Here is Washington Post analysis. Finally, here's Juan Cole's interesting analysis.
Here are some thoughts of mine: Rumsfeld, the brilliant beureaucratic manager, former CEO of major drug companies, presumably a fellow who knows how to make strategic plans and determine methods to judge whether those plans are producing desired results, is apparently endorsing, after 3 years and 9 months of an unimaginably expensive war, some ideas that others have been calling for since nearly the beginning of the war:
1) "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)."
It's taken this brilliant manager 3 years and 9 months to recommend the setting of benchmarks with which to judge whether we are succeeding or not!! Joe Biden and Richard Lugar were calling for those years ago.
2) Put "one or more Iraqi soldiers with every U.S. and possibly Coalition squad, to improve our units’ language capabilities and cultural awareness."
Frankly, I am simply appalled. How in the world could it possibly take nearly 4 years to suggest that our troops need to be able to have Arabic speakers with them and be more culturally aware of Iraqi beliefs and customs. This is so amazing I am left speechless; how do you explain this monumental blindness?
3) "Initiate an approach where U.S. forces provide security only for those provinces or cities that openly request U.S. help."
As I've pointed out in several previous posts, this seems like a fairly obvious idea when you are being seen as an occupier and want to change that and be seen as an invited helper. Brzezinski has been suggesting something like this for at least a year.
4) "Withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions — cities, patrolling, etc. — and move U.S. forces to a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be available when Iraqi security forces need assistance."
Hmmmmm. John Murtha? Who's John Murtha?
5) "Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start “taking our hand off the bicycle seat”), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country."
Aren't Republicans the ones who are always FIRST to tell us that placing responsibility upon those who benefit most from action is the golden path to fostering "individual initiative"? Aren't they the FIRST to warn of 'moral hazard' and 'perverse incentives' when people are provided too easily with aid? (See Jacob Hacker's marvelous new book, "The Great Risk Shift", for more on these topics.)
I've thought a good deal about how a smart guy like Rumsfeld could make so many stupid mistakes and, so far, the main cause I've been able to come up with is arrogance. This guy is perhaps one of the most arrogant of a notably arrogant group: politicians. He seemed to feel his judgment was close to infallible and thus if he thought it up it must be great; there was no real reason to respect anyone else's opinion. And, surrounded as he was by true believers like Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, Wurmser, Rove, et al., there certainly was no stimulus to press him to come up with alternative ideas.