Two months ago in this space, I asked why anyone of sound mind would care about anything uttered by former Vice President Dick Cheney. Now, as if on cue, his partner-in-crime, the reprehensible Donald Rumsfeld, has unburdened himself to the Fox Business Network (who else but Fox would give this man free airtime?) in a great, noxious cloud of indignation.
What could be troubling this man so enamored of his own self-image that he helped to con his feckless boss into a terrible war under false pretenses, developed no plans for a post-war occupation, and, when things got really ugly, said it wasn’t his job anyway, it was the State Department’s? Get this: Rumsfeld is unhappy that President Obama has not made a convincing case for military action against Syria, whose regime appears to have unleashed a poison gas attack against its own citizens.
Are we to believe that a new, contrite Rumsfeld was so eager to prevent the U.S. from making another terrible error based on faulty intelligence that he made his pronouncement before the UN inspectors had even returned from their mission to Syria, before the President briefed Congressional leaders, and before the release of declassified evidence pointing to the Syrian government’s guilt?
Actually, no. Rumsfeld’s beef is that, when it comes to foreign policy, Obama and recently departed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been “in a withdrawal mode, an apology mode.” Imagine that. What on earth would the U.S. have to apologize about, Rummy?
Let’s try to sort through this: Rumsfeld, who prided himself on his ability to apply business solutions to our national defense, was at the helm of the most misguided, mismanaged adventure since our Vietnam calamity. And, as any CEO would do, when the blood began to flow he assigned blame to everyone but himself. Fast-forward to the crisis in Syria, where the evidence seems to point to a war crime, and Rumsfeld lashes out at the Obama administration for being reluctant to engage, while at the same time accusing Obama of moving too hastily. If you can make sense of this, drop me a postcard.
Of course, the truth is this makes no sense at all. But that’s never been an impediment for the likes of Rumsfeld and his camp followers over at Fox. In order to appreciate just how loathsome this man is, consider this quote from his interview: “There really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation.” Yes, go ahead and read that again. With 100,000 Syrians already dead in this gruesome civil war, and with the apparent deployment of a weapon of mass destruction, Rumsfeld has the gall to ask this president where our national interest lies.
Had that question been honestly posed to George Bush about Iraq, some 4,500 of our servicemen and women would not have lost their lives. And there is no telling how many of our veterans would have been spared the torments of PTSD and lifelong disabilities. For Donald Rumsfeld to ponder our national interest, in the privacy of his own thoughts much less on national television, is an insult to every soldier who served in Iraq and to the countless thousands of dead and maimed Iraqis.
As I write this, I am not entirely convinced that our country should embark on yet another Middle East venture whose aims are cloudy and whose outcome is uncertain. The Syria situation is so tangled that it is impossible to even articulate what a satisfactory outcome might be. If the government of Bashar al-Assad survives, its ally Iran is emboldened at a time when new leadership there is showing some signs of opening a negotiating window just a crack. If the rebels prevail, who are they and what will they be? Will we have helped to create a climate for democracy, or will we have simply allowed Islamist extremists to gain a very solid foothold in that volatile part of the world?
As he prepares to present his case to Congress, Obama will have to contend with those questions. Of course, the knee-jerks on the right can be counted on to oppose Obama’s call to action because they oppose anything he advocates. But there will also be healthy skepticism of yet another administration brandishing intelligence reports. The difference this time around is that Obama appears to be a very reluctant warrior. I, for one, much prefer a president who admits to being “war-weary,” to one who giddily dons a jumpsuit as though it were a Halloween costume, for a carrier landing beneath a banner fraudulently declaring “Mission Accomplished.”
And what of the suddenly voluble Donald Rumsfeld? This is his legacy: The lies that were told to justify the war in Iraq, coupled with Rumsfeld’s utter incompetence in managing the nightmare that ensued, have made the world so distrustful of the U.S. and our stated goals that no one will join with us in confronting a government that has committed a war crime against its own people. Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush have set the stage for a long period in which our best efforts to achieve peace will be viewed only with suspicion, and our worst effort, the fiasco in Iraq, will continue to define us in the eyes of the world.
Steve Robinson moved to Flagler County after a 30-year career in New York and Atlanta in print, TV and the Web. Reach him by email here.
Dave Shampine says
WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMEN, WRITE YOUR SENATORS, Stop this madness!!!
Enough war, enough economic suicide, enough dead sons and daughters!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jim R. says
Who would like to get the US involved in this civil war Assad or the rebels ?
Lets see the evidence, and saying it’s classified only makes it appear as if they have something to hide and I’m sure they do.
Our aim in the middle east is to destabilize any country that doesn’t go along with what the US wants, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are all examples of what happens to any countries that resist us, death, destruction and no functional government and Syria is next on the list. So who benefits from chemical attacks, the rebels obviously and we don’t care who they are as long as they bring down Assad.
Lies, Lies and more Lies all to give a dying Empire a few more conquests before it takes it’s last breath.
Not to engage in an ideological diatribe, which makes this piece at best a entertaining soliloquy, but what leadership change in Iran? Unless the mullahs have turned to putting each other in jail as they do their political and religious opponents, there is simply a new figurehead in place.
There is a difference in “war-weariness,” and a haphazard, disoriented course of action. When the president makes an emergency Saturday speech, in the middle of a three-day weekend, the day after the secretary of state made most of the same statements, to say that he will be going to ask for congressional approval for use of force … when congress returns … in 10 days? I don’t know what that is, it isn’t weariness, and it sure isn’t strong leadership on a matter of national security and international relations.
Like Prime Minister Cameron, President Obama is talking before he listens, deciding before he knows, and pulling the trigger before he understands. That isn’t charting a course for stability and order, it’s jumping into a war without a plan for winning, which is the only acceptable outcome to such a proposal. Not some so called “punishment,” for using chemical weapons, if the international community sees fit to intervene, some one-off penalty of cruise missile attacks achieves what? A stroking of Obama’s ego? Who is the cowboy now?
Or perhaps he (and Cheney) are STILL pissed that Obama managed to get rid of Bin Laden and are afraid of losing their delusional dream of “history proving them right”, when everything they did was so stupendously wrong. Every time Obama manages to avoid screwing up as badly as they did, it makes them look worse. How better to try to deflect from their colossal incompetence by stacking the deck and proclaiming that any path Obama might choose to take has to be wrong–All so they can proclaim, “Look Ma, I WON!!” He and Cheney just look like a couple of bad losers who can’t even pretend to wish for their country to do better and accomplish more than they managed to do.
Rumsfeld is just a typical war monger to satisfy profits for the war machinery suppliers and the never satisfied, oil barons. We can’t afford another war and every time we got into one with the baseless, illusionary promise of just and “in and out” (Iraq and Afghanistan) or “no boots in the ground mild intervention” not only they fail us while crucifying our troops and civilians into decades of bloody mess the real liability is that we helped, the take over in those intervened countries by rabid anti USA fanatics and extended new internal civil wars aka Iran, Libya, Egypt, etc. We loose some of those hard liners Pro USA governing those complicated spots in the world, via intervention promoting a forever chaos generated by those new radical extreme rebel groups into power!. Can someone tell me where we promoted peace and democracy in the last 30 years in those countries that went to war for..?
Johnny Taxpayer says
The “knee jerking”, is from Obama, not Congress. He’s the one who set a red line in the sand in an off the cuff statement and now needs a war to show he’s serious.
Since when is a war crime that has nothing to do with the US, in our national security interest? There was concrete US national interest in Iraq. Syria has not attempted to assassinate a US president, has not made it a habit of taking pot shots at US aircraft enforcing a UN mandated no fly zone, and has not failed to live up to UN resolutions implemented as part of a seize fire from a previous war. They also haven’t made it a national past time of threatening the US.
Iraq had Congressional Authorization (supported by many democrats), had UN mandate (1441 & some 14 previous resolutions) , had a Coalition of 10 nations, Syria has none of this. And now this Author, because his guy is in the white house, wants us to go to war (make no mistake about it, bombing another country, even “limited” is war), because Assad is alleged to have committed a war crime. Are we the world’s police? Are we the sole judge, jury, and executor when it comes to ensuring dictators are punished for committing war crimes? The “Bush did it, so I can too” argument is not a justification for war.
I challenge the author to specifically address what it is that “Rummy”, Bush, and Chaney “Lied” about to get us into Iraq. You can say they failed to plan, you can say they screwed up royally, you can say they misunderestimated, but you cannot say they lied, because they simply did not. A lie is an untrue statement made, where the person making the statement knows it to be untrue at the time he makes it. It’s not a mistake, it’s not a bad guess, it’s not a statement that later turns out to be untrue, it’s an untrue statement the person knows to be untrue at the time he makes it.
Johnny Taxpayer, thanks for your comments. A couple of things: First, as I said in the piece, “I am not entirely convinced that our country should embark on yet another Middle East venture whose aims are cloudy and whose outcome is uncertain.” You are correct that Obama’s advisers were surprised when he tossed out the “red line” comment in a news conference.
But I must disagree with you on the Iraq issue. There is no dispute that, within days if not hours of the attacks on 9/11 Rumsfeld was pushing Bush to attack Iraq. As it became clear that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the desperate search was on for some justification to attack Iraq. In spite of the fact that Iraq barely posed a threat to its immediate neighbors, much less a threat to the U.S., CIA chief George Tenet, knowing that his boss had made up his mind already, produced flawed evidence of WMD in Iraq which Colin Powell then delivered to the UN in one of our nation’s most shameful moments. Cheney was so determined to have the intelligence support a finding of WMDs in Iraq that he set up his own personal intelligence team to produce the results he wanted. Bush told author Bob Woodward that he didn’t consult with Powell very much because he knew that Powell was opposed to the Iraq plans. In other words, he was not interested in hearing information that did not support his preconceived plans. Lying is not just a willful misstatement of fact, it is the also the absence of truth and full disclosure.
The overall point about Syria is that whatever Obama decides to do or not to do will be tainted by our country’s miserable failure of integrity, foresight, planning and execution as it pertains to the Iraq war–a war conceived by Cheney and Rumsfeld.
Johnny Taxpayer says
Thank you for the response. I certainly agree that Obama’s hands are tied because of Iraq, no dispute there. But I think you’re cherry picking quotes to support your “they lied” theory. There is no question Chaney and Rumsfeld wanted to go after Iraq after 9/11, they both essentially admit such in their respective books. But they certainly didn’t have exclusivity on that plan. Our own Sec of State, who apparently was so taken by Assad that he met and had dinner with him on 5 different occasions, was right there with them. A mere 3 months post 9/11 Mr. Kerry said (paraphasing) “this doesn’t end with Afghanistan, it’s absolutely vital we continue against Saddam Hussein” I’m guessing he, and his fellow former Sec of State Hillary Clinton were both negligent in their duties as Senators when they voted for the Iraq war. Surely you’re not saying that two leaders of Kerry and Clinton’s stature simply lapped up the intelligence Chaney spoon fed them, are you?
What about the other intelligence services throughout the world that all thought Iraq had WMD? What about President Clinton, when he pushed through the “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998”, I suppose that was based on the intelligence spoon fed to him and all 100 senators by Chaney and Rummy?
@ Steve: What do you propose we do about those nuclear weapons they are developing in Iraq? They are not conjecture.
According to every international inspector, Israels Mossad and our own CIA’s intelligence findings, they are not conjecture, they are fantasy. The Iranians are not capable today or working towards building a nuclear weapon in the future. Here: http://intelnews.org/2012/03/19/01-950/
Our government lies. Every day. and the media repeats it, every day. Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has it on their letterhead. “By deception we shall wage war”. Wake up and don’t swallow everything you are spoon-fed.
@Johnny Taxpayer–So, your defense of Cheney, Rumsfield and Bush is that they were stupidly and eagerly misled, rather than outright liars? I’ll say one thing for Cheney–He managed through all of that to be a good corporate champion for Haliburton.
Why isn’t Flaglerlive concerning itself with the lises, deception and prevarication of obamma and Kerry TODAY?
We have a potus who is insistant on dragging this country into yet another war. obamma’s misguided impotent attempt to ‘punish’ Syria is a trigger for major warfare in the Middle East. obamma has ZERO military experience and is quite frankly, naive and ignorant in matters of international politics. He is the last person to initiate bombings and wars becasue he is ignorant of the ramifications, implications and unintended consequences of his murderous military actions.
…And here come all the Tea Baggers, who will criticize any course of action that Obama decides to take before they even know what it is. If he holds back, he will be a coward who let innocents die. If he takes action, he will be called a war-monger. The world is sceptical of our intelligence because of the debacle created by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield during their administration. For any of them to crtiicize Obama at this point and play armchair warriors, given their previous record, is the height of blind arrogance.
If you were to tell me that I would be agreeing with Charlie Rangel and Allen Grayson in the same week on something, I would bet my life’s savings your wrong. I would have lost the bet.
Look at Libya and Iraq. Nothing has changed there. Remember who you are dealing with!!!!!
When you are in command, command. This present yoyo can’t do it.
Forest G says
History repeats itself. Genocide is happening in our face. Gas, bombs, and bullets. North Korea is doing it quietly, and other world dictators are doing it slowly and quietly. Assad is another in our face Dictator and we have Bombs just rusting in a box why not use them on him. The world is watching the USA and they expect something anything to bring sanity to this crumbling world of immorality. It’s time to shine Adolf Hitler took so many lives while the world pulled straws to see who would take action. Let us unleash punishment it’s time.
At this time of year, I am reminded of the Yom Kippur War on Israel by it’s Arab neighbors. It is scary to think of where all this might lead.
Those WMD’s that couldn’t be found in Iraq have just turned up in Syria.
Liana G says
This president was elected on an anti war campaign platform. Now he is following in the footsteps of the war mongering administration of Bush/Cheney. I say go for it! This will ensure no democrat gets elected in the 2014 mid terms and definitely no presidential hopeful in 2016, even if Elizabeth Warren gets on the ballot. Hooray for Rand Paul! Yep! Liberal hypocrisy! It was only a matter of time!
Btw, the international media has been reporting that the use of chemical weapons was carried out by the CIA and Saudi back trained rebels, not Assad. It’s a shame that I trust foreign news more than I trust our corporate and government controlled news promoting a questionable agenda…