kolmapäev, mai 12, 2004

The Rumfeld Wire

I've added the DCCC's Rumsfeld Wire to my sidebar. Not because I necessarily agree with it, but because I can do it and I think it looks cool.

My feeling on Rumsfeld is that he shouldn't be held personally responsible for the Iraqi prisoner abuse. Unless somebody finds some evidence that he ordered it, which is unlikely. That said, I also think it's unfair to dismiss calls for his resignation as partisan sniping. I have no doubt that Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, the NYT ed board, and Thomas Friedman truly believe Rumsfeld should resign. If you look at the situation from the perspective of those who opposed the war or were displeased with the direction the reconstruction has taken, this is just the latest in a long line of percieved failures on Rumsfeld's part. There's matters of war planning, making some very inaccurate statements before the war ("We know where the WMD are..." etc.), dismissing State Department advice on reconstruction, not protecting the infrastructure well enough, refusing to send in more troops, and other decisions Rumsfeld has made that many Democrats and some conservatives have disagreed with.

These are all complaints based in facts and they are opinions that are held genuinely. I agree with most of them. And personally, I think the poor planning for the reconstruction alone is a reason Rumsfeld should consider resigning or at least not returning for a second term. Taken together with his apparent dismissal of Amnesty International and Red Cross warnings about prisoner mistreatment and his general botching of the public response to the story breaking, it's not unreasonable to think he's a failure. It's not overly partisan to recognize that he has lost whatever credibility he had with the Arab world. Fair or unfair, he's the public face of the military. Removing him would go a long way toward cooling the anger over both the abuse and the war itself in the Middle East and Europe.

The fact that Democrats have made an issue of this, though, practically guarantees Bush will keep Rumsfeld. If he fires him or lets him resign now, he's bowing to political pressure and that's bad for his completely undeserved reputation as a steady leader. However, that the main reason he wouldn't have him resign might be because of political considerations. Bush can't go through a confirmation fight for a replacement right now. Over the last three years, Rumsfeld has made enough mistakes to justify replacing him, but that would require a national debate over those mistakes that would reflect badly on Bush. Also, I don't think anyone on either side is comfortable with the prospect of fighting these wars with no Secretary of Defense while the confirmation is debated. So overall, I don't think Rumsfeld will resign, nor do I think he should solely on the basis of the prison scandal. But those who do have an entirely reasonable case and it's sad that Republicans immediately resort to questioning their motives.

That said, I still think the Rumsfeld Wire is pretty cool.


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