Rummy Vs. Powell?


An interesting tactical question Michael Young has been following: To what degree are we seeing the final stage of the argument between the Powell Doctrine and the familiar but never formally announced Rumsfeld Doctrine? That is, the theory of overwhelming force for specific goals against the theory of a future-oriented, flexible military that applies selective pressure and works with local proxies to make the enemy collapse without ever fully committing your force. That would explain the seemingly premature "decapitation strikes" on Wednesday—as an attempt to deflate the Iraqi leadership and spark a chain reaction of defections, in the manner of Afghanistan. If so, the apparent escalation since then, and General Abizaid's strong indication that the plan is being reconsidered, would indicate Powell's school is resurgent (not that it's going to help Powell, who will almost certainly take the fall for the prewar diplomatic fiasco).

NEXT: The Devil Made Me Do It

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  1. Powell’s a military guy; was, is and will be. His somewhat black and white diplomacy-or-bust mode may be at odds with Rumsfeld’s geo-political far-sightedness, but Powell isn’t set for a fall. He insisted on the right diplomatic course–failed though it was [damn Chirac]–and won’t suffer any sour reproach. Rummy is just too smart to lose. Rummy’s longview is correct; but Powell will be regarded with honor for his patience as well.

  2. They are both right, and both approaches can (and will, to varying degrees) “peacefully co-exist.” The diplomacy train being driven by Powell was allowed to run too long, in this case, and literally sabotaged by France.

  3. The Powell doctorine solidified as a ‘lessons learened’ from Vietnamn. And it served us well when was adheared to. When he was a General it was his duty to deffer to the civilan athority and carry out their orders. However, as Secratary of state I feel he has gone too far in towing the line for this administration. I really expected him to resign. I never expected him to spin the case for war at the UN like he did. I’ll never forgive him for selling out (what I thought were) his principals.

  4. oops – posted before running it through the spell checker. My apologies.

  5. Tuning Spork,

    Chirac did not torpedo the US/UK plan. Heck, Putin said he was veto it two days before Chirac did. Furthermore, Bush, etc. continually misqoute Chirac. He never said that he would veto “any” call for military action, only a call which came before the option of inspections was exhausted. Now, some may be incredulous regarding the distinction that is made, but the distinction is real and should have quite frankly been explored by the US/UK.

    Also, Germany’s opposition was sterner far before the French was. France is a convenient scapegoat, IMHO, for the failures of American diplomacy. It is unfortunate that Howard Baker is not the Secretary of State under W.

  6. Gary,

    I can agree that there was a failure of US diplomacy, but I’d pinpoint it at the moment we accepted the vague language in 1441 of “severe consequences” should the inspections reveal that Iraq had not disarmed. That language was chosen to placate the French, et al–at Powell’s insistence. Bush, Cheney, Rice et cetra wanted the plain language of “military response” in no uncertain terms. Curiously, even after the watered-down version was adopted, the Administration still took the language to effectively mean “military action”, but the French and Russians etc never did. So, the failure to get a “2nd resolution” earlier this month was pretty inevitable.

  7. Ya can’t help but wonder what these guys really think of each other. (The animosity between Rummy and Norman Schwarzkopf is well documented.)

  8. I think we’re about to see a pure test of the Rumsfeld doctrine in Northern Iraq. We’ll see what can be made to happen with just a handful of US troops and the Kurds plus US air strikes.

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