Progress Report

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Last week a prominent analyst of military affairs attempted to add up America's successes and failures in the war on terror. His conclusions:

* We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them—nonetheless, a great many remain at large.

* USG [the United States government] has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis.

* USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban—Omar, Hekmatyar, etc.

* With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started.

The writer feels that "the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another," but notes that "it will be a long, hard slog." The Defense Department, meanwhile, "has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere—one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem."

"Today," he adds, "we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"

You've probably already heard—I'm blogging this a few hours late—but the analyst in question is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in a memo to other U.S. officials. It's not a gloomy report, but it's a lot more sour than his public fa?ade. The full text is here.

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  1. Explain to me why so many people hate this guy. People may not like his style, but he is a seriously smart dude.

  2. notes that “it will be a long, hard slog.”

    Such short memories people have. We were warned from the very start that this would be a protracted effort.

    we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror.

    We lack the metrics to know if we’re going to still have available fossil fuel in 100 years. The science of measuring progress is not important. The “global war on terror” is a propaganda device; we all know that there is no accurate metric, it’s just something for the simple-minded old farts in Congress to argue about for the next ten years. The real global war on terror is fought with philosophy, specifically, bringing to bear a secularized and democratic philosophy right between SA, Syria, and Iran. As the Middle East is drawn away from the Invisible-Man-In-The-Sky-Told-Me-To-Blow-Up-The-Jews bit, we can endlessly drop coke, mcdonald’s, and pro wrestling on their heads. The terrorists won’t really go anywhere, but the people will likely see them less as heroes and more as idiots who committed suicide for no good reason.

  3. It’s good to see that Rumsfeld knows what’s really going on. That way he’s in a position to fix it.

  4. Todd, I disagree:

    I’d be much more secure if we had Les Aspin or Bill Cohen in there at this point. Also, Albright’s current comments make it clear she’d be much better than Powell. Condi Rice? Pshaw!! We could have a giant like Sandy Berger at the NSA.

  5. I can’t tell whether Concerned Citizen is extremely confused, or just really sarcastic.

    Anyway, I’m glad to see that the right insiders have a solid understanding of the work we have ahead of us. The sunny public facade is good, but it’s also good that there is a realistic attitude behind it.

  6. I don’t hate Rummy, but if he were really smart he would know gummint is not the appropriate mode of transportation for a long hard slog.

  7. “It’s not a gloomy report,” Right, because it’s not a report. This is a memo setting up a meeting agenda. These are questions, not answers. Personally, I’m glad we have an official at this level who is willing to continually question himself and his department, rather than stick to a position required by ideology or Emerson’s “foolish consistency” (R. McNamara ring a bell here?)

  8. “It’s not a gloomy report,” Right, because it’s not a report. This is a memo setting up a meeting agenda.

    Oh, come on. You know what I mean.

  9. Macnamera’s ghost haunts the halls of the Pentagon.

    It looks like the Sec. Def. is trying to distinguish himself from the rest of the administration by providing a realistic assessment of Iraq. This is a direct challenge to the other p.r. move on Iraq, the approach of the White House, which is to point out the “good news” by going around “the filter”.

  10. trainwreck, our extremely-sorry-for-Vietnam ex-president of Ford Motor and “whiz kid” former SecDef isn’t dead yet! Perhaps it’s his legacy that haunts.

    Rumsfeld is not trying to distance himself from the admin…this memo was leaked by someone to the Dana Milbanks of the media, i.e., all non-FOX employees, who are eager to twist any morsel to jack up doubt in the administration & Iraq effort…the price you pay for a free press, one would guess.

  11. Jesse:
    My comment was oriented as much, if not more, to USA Today’s spinning than your post. Your phraseology gave me a perfect jumping off point. That being said, you are a professional writer, using rigorous diction, avoiding any possible misunderstandings, eschewing obfuscation, right?:)

  12. Is Concerned Citizen’s goal to dribble some sand into a finely tuned discourse?
    Or do he not see de forests fo de twees?

  13. I wouldn’t hire Albright to watch my house while I go on vacation. Instead of stopping the thieves she would want to get inside their heads to find out just why it is they want to break into my house. What did I do to make them want to rob me. Then she would go to the neighbors to find out if they think she ought to do something about it…

  14. “Explain to me why so many people hate this guy. People may not like his style, but he is a seriously smart dude.”

    For his sanguinary interference with foreign policy. I always though he was a very capable SecDef, with a good handle on transformation. But I wish he’d stop pushing PNAC’s foreign policy fantasies, get back in the Pentagon, and sign some purchase orders.

  15. concerned you are correct and incorrect. I should have said his legacy.

    Ummm, if you read the USNEWS article I read, it said the Secretary of Defense gave this memo to some congress peoples and discussed it with them

    So he leaked it. That’s how I developed my interpretation. Anybody with a brain would want to distance themselves from a propoganda scheme. Most people can spot propoganda when they see it, they resent it.

  16. “Explain to me why so many people hate this guy. People may not like his style, but he is a seriously smart dude.”

    Because he’s an evil comic-book villain psycho, willing (eager?) to sacrifice the lives of thousands in his quest for world domination.

  17. Let me expand a bit. A few weeks ago it was announced that the responsibility for Iraq was shifting to the White House, the NSC. It was also reported that this was a yank on Rummy’s chain from the White House. The next thing we hear coming from the White House is a campaign to show the real truth about Iraq, because the media distorts everything with a liberal bias.

    Now I suppose this kind of information campaign will impress the people who think there’s nothing wrong with American soldiers being occupied by painting schools and guarding pipelines. Many people have probably never thought about the appropriate role for the military.

    I think this is a move by the Secretary to distance himself from the politicization of the Iraq conflict, which is really what the White House is trying to do. He must remain credible with the military first and foremost. For him to sign on to a politically motivated feel good propoganda campaign would risk losing the respect of the Pentagon, which is notoriously self examining, introspective, and honest in it’s self appraisal. That’s one reason why theyr’e good at what they do.

    So I see this as a way for the Sec. Def. to say to the two million plus Pentagon employees: “Look, I know the reality, and I’m not afraid to confront it.”

    But hey, I could be wrong.

  18. Do you think Rummy sinks or swims to Iraq, or is his fate tied to the Stryker concept?

    It is problematic, the Stryker. No question we need to be more readily deployable and have units that have a much, much smaller logistical footprint than the M1A1. The price of mobility is weight, which means that armor will not mean what it once did, and soldiers doing everything right will still get killed. That unfortunate side effect may wind up clinging to Rummys career.

  19. Most people can spot propoganda when they see it, they resent it.

    If the propaganda alarm bell isn’t going off every 45 seconds then you’re not seeing it. 🙂

    Because he’s an evil comic-book villain psycho, willing (eager?) to sacrifice the lives of thousands in his quest for world domination.

    I get the impression that’s what most people think Republicans are. It’s distressing that people really think they’re lurking behind heavy oak church doors, rubbing their hands together and plotting the downfall of the civilized world.

  20. Damn!! Foiled again by rst!!!

    We’ll have to find other places to meet other than behind heavy oaken church doors!! But, rest assured, we will meet again!

    BWAHAHAHHAHA!!! (rubs hands together)

  21. Oh, I’m so sorry Monsieur, I’ll allow you to conduct this finely tuned discourse like the Pierre Monteaux of rhetoric that you clearly are.

    A thousand pardons…

  22. Comic book villians are motivated more by existential evil. Rumsfeld’s more like a tragic hero, whose carries out his bloody deeds because of a perverse, but still sympathetic, distortion of a virtue.

  23. Control was passed to the NSC not as a slap to Donald “Get of my lawn you damn kids!” Rumsfeld, but rather, it was because the NSC’s chairman Condi Rice, is exempt from being questioned by Congress. So we will see billions disappear down a deep hole in the sand and no way of finding out why or how.

    Perhaps I am being overly cynical or prone to see conspiracy, but this Administration doesn’t take a shit without some political manuever angle.

  24. Jason, I agree, Stryker is a problem, I don’t think he can land that plane, he hasn’t gotten over the raid on Macho Grande…looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue…wait a minute, I’m on reason’s message boards…Glue for everyone!!!

  25. “Surely you’re not serious?”

    “Yes, and don’t call me Shirley.”

    🙂

  26. Warren, please tell me that comic-book remark was sarcastic. It was, wasn’t it?

  27. Stryker is a piece of crap, and everyone knows it. It is too light to stop serious anti-armor weapons, such as the ubiquitous RPG-7 that is giving us fits in Iraq. It is too heavy to be readily air-portable. It isn’t really survivable against large mortars, tanks, artillery, or larger improvised explosive devices (IEDs – not to be confused with IUDs).

    It was Shinseki’s baby all along, and the new brigade test bed for them is… wait for it… in Hawaii, where Shinseki (whose mentor is Sen. Hayakawa) intends to run for Senate. Can you say “pork with a helping of gravy”? I knew you could.

    The thing to do is not to put our heavy forces on a diet, per se. Instead, we need to think about force mixture – what we need in the way of heavy and light, air land and sea forces, combat arms and combat support units, nation-building v. combat forces, and logistical base (strategic and tactical lift capability). Yeah, we brought down the Taliban with donkeys, special forces guys, some air strikes, and some determined local light infantry. But what took down Baghdad City was a five hour gunfight between 50 M-1 tanks, and 5,000 Iraqis / foreign fighters. The Army is a slow moving, ponderous heavyweight – but a tank battalion can do in a couple hours what air strikes and a light infantry division would need a week for. It’s nice to have capable lightweights and middleweights in the stable, but you need to have heavyweight sluggers too. Stryker is a nice idea for ferrying around light infantry to the start point of a forced march to a guerilla hideout or to use en masse to control an unarmed crowd – that’s what the South Africans used similar vehicles for, and what the Brits used their armored “pig” for in North Ireland. Lightly armored, moderately gunned wheeled vehicles are a poor substitute, however, for heavy armor, tracks, and large bore direct fire guns.

  28. Rumsfeld’s more like a tragic hero, whose carries out his bloody deeds because of a perverse, but still sympathetic, distortion of a virtue.

    Ok, but were talking some major distortion here.

  29. I used to be considered pretty smart. Getting my masters in math at the local state school.

    then I got caught getting shopping carts at the local k-mart (worked my way thru school).

    haven’t had a real job since!

  30. Hizbollah? Hamas? IJ?

    Off-limits, Off-limits, and off-limits. Nations like Syria and Jordan are so concerned with the plight of the Palestinians that they turn away and outright expel Palestinian refugees. Those nations would not tolerate the U.S. physically going after those groups, because they represent the oft-unspoken goal of the conflict in the Middle East in the first place: not that they want to live in peace with the Jews but that they, just like the Jews, want to kill their “infidel” enemy for living on their “holy land”. To the Arabs, the Muslims belong in Jerusalem and the Jews do not. Vice versa with the Jews. There will be no satisfaction for the Arabs until the Jews are gone. The nations that surround the area of interest would rather see fewer living Palestinians controlling Jerusalem than more living Palestinians not controlling Jerusalem.

  31. What puzzles me is why can’t Rummy moderate his public tone in this way? The memo is a much more thoughtful assessment than his public posture, which often seems stupidly pollyanna-ish. Honest ambivalence is often more attractive than ignorant bravado.

  32. Stephen sez: “Lightly armored, moderately gunned wheeled vehicles are a poor substitute, however, for heavy armor, tracks, and large bore direct fire guns.”

    Strykers and Light Armored Brigades aren’t designed as a replacement for Abramses and armoured regiments, but as an alternative.

  33. We we’re involved in an expensive, messy global operation against terrorist who would try to kill us. Number one target is identified as Al Qaeda. Good start.

    But if I were to come up with no.s 2-4, they would not be Iraqi government members, the remains of the Taliban, and a Shiite resistance group in northern Iraq. Where’s Hizbollah? Hamas? IJ?

  34. carries out his bloody deeds because of a perverse, but still sympathetic, distortion of a virtue.

    Yes, because only the left has the market cornered on virtue. 😐

  35. Don Rumsfeld takes his marching order from Amman and Damascus. Gotcha.

  36. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://photo.online-photo-print.com
    DATE: 01/20/2004 12:24:30
    Suits and religions rupture if you force them on.

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