“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rumsfeld Has a Friend and Defender in Douglas Feith

It is hell being in American Politics. I do not understand why anyone in their right mind does it. It is predictable that you will be revered and vilified. The proportion depends on many things. Rumsfeld has the jackals all over him. I confess to being a jackal. I was for Nixon before I was against Nixon and after some time saw some redeeming qualities. Flaws for sure but there were qualities as well. I believe Rumsfeld, as head of defense, lost his ability to be affective. That was enough reason for him to be replaced. Popularity was not the issue. Simply stated, he was perceived as having lost his ability to control events. That is enough.

Time may be kind to Rumsfeld. It never was to Robert McNamara, Defense Secretary, Under Kennedy and Johnson. He has a friend in Douglas Feith.

Much of what you know about Donald Rumsfeld is wrong.

"I worked intimately with Rumsfeld for four years, from the summer of 2001 until I left the Pentagon in August 2005. Through countless meetings and private conversations, I came to learn his traits, frame of mind and principles -- characteristics wholly at odds with the standard public depiction of Rumsfeld, particularly now that he has stepped down after a long, turbulent tenure as defense secretary, a casualty of our toxic political climate...

Rumsfeld is a bundle of paradoxes, like a fascinating character in a work of epic literature. And as my high school teachers drummed into my head, the best literature reveals that humans are complex. They are not the all-good or all-bad, all-brilliant or all-dumb figures that inhabit trashy novels and news stories. Fine literature teaches us the difference between appearance and reality...

...Rumsfeld had to resign, I suppose, because the bitter political debate of recent years has turned him into a symbol. His effectiveness was damaged. For many in Congress and the public, the Rumsfeld caricature dominated their view of the Iraq war and the administration's ability to prosecute it successfully. Even if nominee Robert Gates pursues essentially the same strategy, he may command more public confidence.

What Rumsfeld believed, said and did differs from the caricature. The public picture of him today is drawn from news accounts reflecting the views of people who disapproved of his policies or disliked him. Rumsfeld, after all, can be brutally demanding and tough. But I believe history will be more appreciative of him than the first draft has been. What will last is serious history, which, like serious literature, can distinguish appearance from reality."

This is worthy of an entire read.
Washington Post Painting "The Exile" -Frank Galluzzo


  1. Deuce,

    re: I do not understand why anyone in their right mind does it.

    The question may contain the answer. Consider,

    Goverment Oversight Will Have Many Targets, Rep. Waxman Tells Audience

    Representative Waxman was doing this when he was removed from his chairmanship twelve years ago. Why does anyone in his right mind do it?

  2. Mr Rumsfeld managed the Presidents' Policy at the Pentagon.
    He was retained because he was following orders, competently.

    Mr Rumdfeld did not write Combat Doctrine for the Military, he did not write the RoE, nor allocate the number of video camaras that were distributed to the Combat Units.

    He realized the US was behind the information curve, but could not bring US up to speed.
    He realized our allies in Iraq were in fact not allies at all.
    Of all his quotes, many I referenced of the years, the money quote was, "If we left now, it'd be worse than Saddam".

    Which he said after the final Iraqi Election, when the winners became known.

  3. Why do Republicans assign negative connotations to a co-equal branch of the government performing their oversight duties? The 109th Congress would not do it, and now that the 110th Congress promises to do it, it's a bad thing.

  4. Coulda, shoulda, woulda...

    Mr Bush decided on Nation building, he decided upon the accelerated Democracy Project.

    I was not in the room so where each player stood is known but to them. But the President decided.

    The question now, the one that perks my interet, is that as the new Policy becomes clear, as the pullout begins, will the "faithful" declare Victory along with Mr Baker, or will they finally see the light, what I consider the "realist reality".

    From the first day of Mr Malikis' swearing in, he called for the transfer of authority by November '07. He's gonna get his wish, for better or worse.

  5. rufus said:

    Westhawk makes the point that Rumsfeld never did want to "Nationbuild."

    Of course not. But somewhere along the way he deputized the troops and defined victory as ending all felony assaults in Iraq.

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  8. Too bad these "Republicans in name only" did not think about the consequences of their vainglorious conduct to themselves and the country, while they were at the tiller. They and their chief decider have decidedly unleashed hell.

  9. A whole bunch in China and India, a few in Europe.

    Now project that scenario on Mexico or Canada, then there'd be a different outcome.

    But as I've been saying a lot recently, in Mexico the Enemy will not require a nuke.
    Just semtec and AKs, both of which are readily available.

  10. Well, Mr Clay Shaw, on of the losing GOP Congressmen from FL does not blame librarians for his defeat.

    No, he has the skinny, seeing how much more actively involved Mr Shaw was than any of us.
    Heare at RCP they quote his interview in the Miami Herald.

    "... But the loss came as a shock to the campaign veteran who said internal polling consistently showed him ahead of Klein.

    ''My guess is it was . . . the tide rolling across the whole country and we got caught up in it,'' a reflective -- and at times bitter -- Shaw said Friday during an hourlong interview in his Fort Lauderdale congressional office, his wife, Emilie, at his side. Shaw noted Republicans were dealing with sex and corruption scandals and a military death toll in Iraq that topped 100 in October. 'I think that was laying heavily in voters' minds.''

    Shaw said he shared his belief about Rumsfeld's departure with Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist -- who called Shaw on Friday and told him ``the race he was most concerned about was mine, and that he felt very badly about losing me.''

    Rove told him that Rumsfeld wasn't let go until after the election because the president ''didn't want our soldiers to come off with the impression that he was doing that for political purposes, just to get a leg up on this election,'' Shaw said.

    Better the Presidents' Party lose the Election, rather than "politicize" the troops.
    What rubbish.

    Read Mr Bevan's piece, he thinks the Dems played Mr Bush like a fiddle.

  11. Exactly, rufus.
    Sieze the Mexican fields and let the Canucks get a chance to decide to join US.

    Once the nukes go off, rufus, the Market Economy, complete with "Global Trade" will go by the side of the road.

    The US can survive without ME oil, the Chinese and Indians cannot.

    It'll be a brave new World.

  12. The real question, rufus, is what happens when 3 or 4 nukes go off in Israel.

    Not affecting the Oil infrastructure at all.

    Will the Israel counter nuke the Arab oil fields?

  13. Rufus, it seems to me the best and safest long term alternate energy play is GE.

  14. Mr Bush and the Republicans seemingly do not share your enthused attitude, rufus.

    So there you go. If the Federals are all important to development, oil is still the future.
    Alternate Energy has historicly been a Democrat promotion, the Sauds killed it last time a farmer tried to promote Alt Eng, we'll see where Mr Kissingers' clients try to drive the oil martkets this time.

  15. whit, contrarian to Mr Barnes, perhaps.
    I concur that Mr Rumsfeld played his part in Mr Bush's band of brothers quite well.
    He is the last man standing, in fact. Now though the 41 Team has come to town, with another Loyalist replacing Mr Rumsfeld.
    A new course to be charted, a new helmsman on watch.

  16. I updated the Vet's day post with Buddy's contribution. Good one.

  17. re: Iraq Democracy Project

    "Something that isn't worth doing at all isn't worth doing well"
    ___Bill Barker at Motley Fool

  18. rufus,

    re: Would your Children be drafted to fight in the Russo/Chinese/India/European World War for Oil?

    You have made the case for staying in Iraq and maintaining a stranglehold on the flow of petroleum through the Strait. Without firing a shot, the US could scare the hell out of rest of an uncooperative world by beginning an inspection regime of all traffic at that point.

  19. maintaining the illusion that it is NOT about the oil is necessary if one wants to get elected in good ole america.

  20. Ash, old pal, congrats on the election. Oil is *one* of the things it "was all about'. Just one of the things. Have you been reading rufus' post upstream, tho? I hope you don't think he's wild-eyed spouting.

    (2164, thanks for that post-up. Those 8th AAF kids in Stalag Luft 1 would never have imagined such a salute!)

  21. Maybe you shpould stop thinking of it as "oil", Ash, and think of it as "our way of life" or "our prosperity".

    Know how much oil is involved in stocking your grocery store shelves with affordable foodstuffs?

  22. It becomes 'survival" easily enough. Let one continent have it at a fraction of another continent's cost, and continent #1 has, in time, a decisive military/industrial advantage.

    That's why the universal allocation thru an open auction market is the very best chance the old globe has of avoiding another world war.

  23. And *that* is why it's so damn silly to sneer at "oil" as a factor in our efforts in the ME.

    And *that* is why it's so damn dangerous to elect people who either refuse to glom onto all this, or are just too invested in their short-term concerns to much care.

  24. Best thing an ordinary joe can do, for his heirs and the country, is to put your retirement $ into some carefully-selected alternative-energy organizations. GE is deep into it, so it ain't a bad idea--except it is also a play on the global economy, so one must take care.

  25. all solid holdings, rufus--I hold two of the three, and will look at Wate Mgmnt on your say. Pacific Ethanol, Evergreen Solar, two other best-of-breeds.

    Short term, domestic drillers on land, ought to pick up some from water drillers, as the green caucus is back in the saddle.

  26. "Wate Mgmnt"--I must be looking ahead to the turkey.

  27. good tips--Dupont is levered to the natgas, tho. I'd say, small position justified--as a hedge (natgas could fall, hey?).

    I have some Newmont and Anglogold, which have done very well this past week, tho they have a ways to get back to May levels.

    I hate to buy gold--a weenie disaster play--but, hell, got dependants.

  28. I still like the guy and respect him....

  29. Pork, there's some good comments about Rummy over on Roger Simon's site. That's a good site for Israel-defenders to check in on, too. As the war heats back up in the Holy Land, Roger will cover it, and he has plenty of commenters from Israel.

  30. rufus,

    re: A Nuclear Iran is a "World-Changer."

    That sounds like the beginning of a plan for some future administration.

  31. buddy larsen,

    re: Meanwhile, tell your congressfolk you want the military budget to go back to the 50s-60s era, when we had a better margin-for-error in regards to the stuff to fight with.
    ___at the BC

    This should give the new majority party a golden opportunity to keep its campaign promises. Perchance, the Democrats can help the President keep his. That would be a win-win, much to the military's delight.

    How long will it take Mr. Rangel to reintroduce his oft rejected conscription bill?

  32. Buddy,

    Acknowledging and accepting the fact that the primary reason we are fighting in Iraq is important toward helping us decide of future courses of actions. All this WMD, ties to al Qaeda, and freedom crap just diverts the conversation.

    Most people in the US are basically good and the thought of going to war for oil offends their sensibilities, hence all that crap spewed as noted above.

    One problem with your notion of 'fairness' in determining oil distribution through him who pays most gets it is that it tilts the playing field to those who are rich, i.e. the US, and the rich just keep getting richer. As we've discussed before there are 'property rights'. Those who own stuff are under no obligation to sell it to the hightest bidder.

    Water is the next 'commodity' that could spark further imperial action by the US. Unless desalination becomes widespread Canada should be careful, no/

  33. welp, they should get it happening 'cause the midwest is parched and could shore use a bunch.

  34. Ash, you make a good point. I could mention that USA is an importer, which leaves us out of your 'piggy' calculus, but then you would just mention that our rate of oil-to-GDP conversion is the world's most efficient, so we should pay more than say Italy.


    But I would like for you to imagine me a fairer system, given the nature of reality, and one that might prove as likely to prevent international trusts, keiretsu, combines, hoarding, and other war-making gaming, as the long-trusted, highly efficient, transparent, open-auction system we have now.

    Wealth exists where it exists because of the "best practices" in the systems. Except of course for the Bedouin exporters, who just have to own the desert.

    Do you want them to discount for peter and not paul?

    Then you would have loved Bush I's "New World Order", because that was precisely his intention for the third world, to bump-start them while oil was still cheap. It was the "end-of-the-Cold-War" new world order project--aimed primarily at black Africa.

    But, it was the centerpiece of a second term he did not win.

  35. Clausewitz concluded that moderation in warfare or conflict is absurd. I'm old fashioned.

    Moderation in war leads to defeat in the field.

    Moderation in politics leads to defeat at the polls.

  36. ceteras paribus, who wins a war between Sun Tzu and Von Clausewitz?

  37. buddy,

    re: The Thrilla in Manila

    Both were consummate bullsh**ers.
    Both were satisfied with an efficacious show of force.
    Both were fully committed to victory on the battlefield.
    Both were wry, quintessential warriors.

    They would have been at ease, each with the other.

    Sun Tzu would have been envious of Clausewitz’s technological advantage, while also excitedly adaptable.

    On this, I might defer to Teresita, assuming she is willing to do more than a drive-by.

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  39. If it was 'all about oil' [it isn't] and the public realized it, the reaction would be:

    "Cheaper, please."

    Not, "oh we're so awful we're trying to fund progress, hold up the world economy, and stop people from freezing and starving to death in Africa, Asia, and South America."

    "Reduce the price of gasoline." Yeah, that's something the average person is going to be aghast at. By average, I mean those of us who haven't been brainwashed by the local "humanities" department.

    Back on target:

    IMO Rumsfeld's biggest flaw was his faith in technology as the solution to near everything. It led to his insistence that the Army get smaller, no matter the circumstances. He was so focused on "future warfare" that he forget the present (this shouldn't just be laid at his feet, however, the Bush administration as a whole went along with it). Unfortunately, Iraq wasn't a fight that came off well while fought lightly in manpower and money.

    The emphasis on change goes to one of the reasons that he was so controversial. Like McNamara he followed military service with a long stretch in civilian life. He wasn't one of the guys that came up out of the system. He had strong ideas, some of which were good, some of which were bad, but few that the intertia-driven brass believed in - hence the ongoing spat.

    Like McNamara, I can see him becoming the lightning rod for historical criticism and a general fall guy. Some criticism is deserved, but there's a lot to go around. Many responsible are going to avoid it by putting it on Rumsfeld.