Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fire Him. Now.

From the AP:
More than 2 years into the Iraq war, Donald H. Rumsfeld has decided the enemy are not insurgents.

"This is a group of people who don't merit the word 'insurgency,' I think," Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a Pentagon news conference. He said the thought had come to him suddenly over the Thanksgiving weekend.

"It was an epiphany."

Rumsfeld's comments drew chuckles but had a serious side.

"I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe," he said. "These people don't have a legitimate gripe." Still, he acknowledged that his point may not be supported by the standard definition of 'insurgent.' He promised to look it up.

Webster's New World College Dictionary defines the term "insurgent" as "rising up against established authority."

Even Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stood beside Rumsfeld at the news conference, found it impossible to describe the fighting in Iraq without twice using the term 'insurgent.'

After the word slipped out the first time, Pace looked sheepishly at Rumsfeld and quipped apologetically, "I have to use the word 'insurgent' because I can't think of a better word right now."

Without missing a beat, Rumsfeld replied with a wide grin: "Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government. How's that?"
For months, I've pointed out the word games the White House and Pentagon have been playing with this war. It's simply gone too far. This is not semantics, folks. You can't win unless you know who you're fighting, and you can't fight unless you have civilian support at home. That support is a function of honesty, not a well-worn Thesaurus. These Kremlin circa-1958 word games, mantras and bromides sap public support and contribute to the same doubt about the mission that our leaders decry as "not supporting the troops." This is in addition to the fact that Rumsfeld's simply wrong, both substantively (all you have to do is read the results of this poll to get a quick sense of that) and on the literal definition of "insurgency" which has nothing to do with "legitimate gripes" (as if an invader/occupier's judgment about legitimacy would be in any way valid). For Rumsfeld to try to wish away an overwhelmingly indigenous resistance as if it were no more than a stray neighborhood dog is not only the height of hubris, it's utterly reckless. It also indicates that Rumsfeld lives in the same sort of dangerous bubble as Bush.

For the last year or more, Rumsfeld's obviously had his share of critics, many of whom have called for his resignation. I've been on the fence about that, but no longer. It would be so easy for Bush to generate some much-needed good will for himself by cleaning house and bringing in some new people. If he refuses to do so, then he deserves nothing more than the continued scorn of the nation. If he somehow wakes up from his interminable and inexplicable slumber, the first thing he should do is have an "epiphany" of his own and fire Rumsfeld. Right now, that would be the best way to support the troops.

49 Comments:

Anonymous howard said...

of course, the only people that bush fires are the ones who tell the truth, so there's not much chance of rumsfeld turning to his memoirs anytime soon.

but just to demonstrate that this kind of muddled thinking and essential dishonesty isn't limited to the bush administration (much as i wish it were), joe lieberman thinks that we have 27M happy, unified iraqis and 10,000 "terrorists."

which could explain why he's the rpeublican's favorite democrat....

11/29/2005 6:48 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

amen.

11/29/2005 6:53 PM  
Blogger Spider said...

Bush firing Rumsfield? Or anyone for that matter? Ha! You'd have better odds saying that the Cubs will win a World Series anytime soon!

11/29/2005 7:41 PM  
Anonymous howard said...

spider, with the red sox and the white sox having won the last two world series, i'd say the odds are not only better that the cubs will win a series before bush fires someone for incompetency, they are massively better!

11/29/2005 7:52 PM  
Anonymous semper fubar said...

I don't think that Bush deserves to generate any "good will" no matter how he goes about ginning it up. A rise in Bush's poll numbers would be a destructive thing for this country, because it would encourage the Republicans and Liebercrats to continue to support his policies.

We need to rid our government of these people.

Let all these people -- Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Bolton, Rice, Hadley, Feith, Rove et al -- be an anchor around his neck, so as to all the much sooner sink this stinking mess.

11/29/2005 8:50 PM  
Anonymous LarryInNYC said...

You suggest that Bush fire Rumsfeld, but this kind of "happy" thinking in the face of reality seems almost calculated to raise Bush's opinion of his Defense Secretary rather than lower it. He's probably thinking of giving Rumsfeld a raise -- to Executive Secrectary of Defense, or something like that.

11/29/2005 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, no more calls for Bush to fire anyone because of their incompetence. Competence doesn't matter to Bush. Loyalty does. Loyalty to Bush is more important than service to country. L'etat, c'est moi.

And I don't understand people who are disillusioned with Bush. Wasn't it apparent in the 2000 race what kind of president he would be? The alcoholism, the lack of accomplishment until he was in his 40s, the string of failed businesses, his daddy's friends bailing him out again and again. This guy had everything handed to him: grandson of a Senator, son of a President, prep school, Yale, Harvard and he's a wash up until he hits his 40s and hooks up with Rove? Why would anyone have expected effective government from this clown?

11/29/2005 10:05 PM  
Anonymous grass root said...

I like that - Executive Secretary of Defense. How about Grand Poobah of Epiphanous Thoughts Regarding Wars and Stuff. He could wear a special hat.
My cat thinks about Irag more than he does.

11/29/2005 10:07 PM  
Blogger socratic_me said...

There is at least one more quote from the same interview that is equally disturbing, if not more so. From the SF Gate (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2005/11/29/national/w130539S09.DTL)

"At another point in their news conference, Rumsfeld and Pace had an unusual exchange in which Rumsfeld corrected his senior military adviser, only to have Pace gently insist that it was the defense secretary who was wrong.

A reporter asked Pace what U.S. commanders in Iraq are supposed to do if they find Iraqi forces abusing prisoners. Pace replied that if inhumane treatment is observed it is a service member's duty to stop it.

"I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it — it's to report it," Rumsfeld said, turning to Pace.

Replied the general: "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it."

11/29/2005 10:18 PM  
Blogger 277fia said...

I read a week of Rumsfeld transcripts and today's press conference took the cake.

When asked about militias infiltrating the Iraqi police, Rumsfeld wandered off into the ozone with classic "You have a group that is not a group., You have unlikes together.."

Rumsfeld insistst that there are 212,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi security forces. But the number of bases turned over to the Iraqis jumped from 17 last week to 29 today without explanaton.

He pulled out "we're fighting them over there so we have don't have to fight them over here" and "quitting is not an exit strategy".

But Peter Pace wasn't much better. When asked about the use of IUDs, he answered that the enemy used IUDs as a weapon of last resort because "they have not yet, not once, won an engagement" with US and coaliton forces on a battlefield.

Insurgents do not fight on battlefields and IUDs are their only weapons.

Pace talked about US and Iraqi forces uncovering an IUD factory yesterday and said that 4,000 pounds of explosives and a dozen 500-pound bombs were found. I thought that sounded significant and checked the Centcom site. No press release about the IUD factory.

Every day in Iraq is the same as every day in Iraq was three years ago if you listen to Donald Rumsfeld. Every day, the Iraq government gets stronger and every day, more troops are trained. That's all the American public needs to know.

I thought Rumsfeld was nuts three years ago and since then, he's only gotten worse. But make no mistake, he's with us for the duration.

11/30/2005 12:43 AM  
Blogger 277fia said...

Actually, Rumsfeld was talking about divisions within the enemy when he babbled about groups that aren't groups and unlikes.

When asked about militias infiltrating the police, he responded that that the police live in that area they police. That apparently explains the problem for the secretary of defense.

11/30/2005 3:11 AM  
Blogger Ahistoricality said...

That's Orwellian. Humpty-Dumpty rules!

11/30/2005 5:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't have a legitimate gripe. Sigh. I seriously don't have a response to that that doesn't invove lots of arm waiving and a raised voice.

11/30/2005 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rummy - Decided to help you and went to the OED. And CR you are right - no mention of "legitimate gripes" thought there is a mention of a "constituted authority" which I suppose the US forces in Iraq qualify for.

INSURGENT
A. adj.
1. Rising in active revolt. Also fig.
2. Of the sea or a flood: Surging up or rushing in.

B. n. One who rises in revolt against constituted authority; a rebel who is not recognized as a belligerent.

INSURGENCY
The quality or state of being insurgent; the tendency to rise in revolt; = prec.

INSURGENCE
The action of rising against authority; a rising, revolt.

INSURGE (rare) v
1. intr. To arise, spring up. (= OF. ensourdre, s'insurgir). Obs.
2. intr. Of the sea: To surge or rush in upon.
3. intr. To rise in opposition or insurrection against; to make insurrection, revolt. Obs.
4. trans. To stir up; to raise in tumult, hostility, or insurrection. Obs. exc. as nonce-wd.

11/30/2005 8:48 AM  
Blogger actus said...

Can you imagine how much it would suck to be that general that has to sit there listening to this gas bag. And then basically get stuck having to give your talk without using the word 'insurgent,' lest you appear off message.

What an ass.

11/30/2005 9:11 AM  
Anonymous scott_api said...

Got this from Atrios, but since we are talking about language, it fits. Isn't IED an oxymoron? Improvised Explosive Device - If it is improvised, then I don't necessarily think it is created in a factory. If they indeed found a factory to produce these, then I think that qualifies them as actual munitions.

11/30/2005 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

The power of language to influence thought is very strong. Goebbels & Orwell both recognized this nearly 3/4 of a century ago, one as practitioner, the other as critic. And with the power of mass media at its disposal, this effect is magnified.

What I find interesting is why Rummy sees the need to twist the language around the word "Insurgent." I think his objection is less about the use of the word, than about the lack of the use of the Chosen Word: "Terrorist."

"Terrorist," rightly or not, is a visceral word; we react to it instantly, on a purely emotional level. It's always bad, it's always associated with violence. Insurgent, however, requires an intellectual examination. Some insurgents throughout history have been on the "Right Side." Our own Minutemen, for example.

I think if you look, you'll find that Administration-speak, as used by McClelland, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & Rice always chooses words and phrases that are not necessarily evocative of a negative . . . but that appeal directly to the emotions: Evil, Un-American, Terrorist, Warlord, with-us-or-with-the-terrorists, mission-accomplished, way-of-life.

Such words and phrases require no analysis. They *instantly* mean something, and they tend to mean the same thing to everyone. "Terrorist" always bad; "Mission Accomplished" always good.

No thought required. And that's exactly what they have in mind.

11/30/2005 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's the point? it's not like bush will fire rumsfeld and appoint somebody good. he would just appoint another hapless crony.

11/30/2005 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing inexplicable about Bush's "slumber" as you call it. His moral, intellectual and leadership deficiencies were FULLY in evidence in 1999 when he first gained significant national attention (well, there was the TIME cover story of 1998 which anointed him as next prez, too). I imagine that you insert a line about being mystified as an excuse for your past support of Bush.
Face it---there was no excuse to support him, except greed. None.
You done wrong, and you realize it now, but don't pretend that it wasn't obvious how bad a President Bush would be. It was.

11/30/2005 11:38 AM  
Anonymous scott-api said...

I think a lot of the support for Bush in 2000 came from the fact that the cabinet was seen as so strong. When their voices were silenced (Whitman at EPA, Powell at State, the Treasury guy) people started to see how bad it was, but by then, most of the country was enbroiled in the God, Guns and Gays debate, with a healthy dose of fear of a mushroom cloud mixed in. As I said in a previous post - This is your GOP, bought and paid for with the blood and treasure of our children. Not 'your' as in TCR, but 'your' as in any Bush voter/apologist.

11/30/2005 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Kilfarsnar said...

Rumsfeld is on record as saying he has submitted his resignation twice. But the President would not allow it. I think Rumsfeld is a kind of shield for Bush. He takes the criticism so that Bush or someone else, *cough* Cheney, does not have to. In addition, letting Rumsfeld go would be an admission that he was not doing a good job. These guys do not make admissions of that sort.

Oh, and by the way, 277fia, the weapon the insurgents use is an IED. An IUD is a contraceptive. An understandable mistake, but I still laughed my ass off reading your post! :-)

11/30/2005 1:49 PM  
Blogger 277fia said...

Thanks, kilarsnar. Glad I could make you laugh. My dream is that they all become Unexploded Explosive Devices!

11/30/2005 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeez, I though 277fia knew of some 'insurgent' strategy to fight the enemy by lowering their birthrate. Now that would take some improvisation.

11/30/2005 2:44 PM  
Blogger tregen said...

Fire him. Now.

11/30/2005 4:48 PM  
Blogger Ed M. said...

It's really quite remarkable.

I saw Mary Matalin this morning on the Today show firing off some poll stats "80% of Iraqis are hopeful for the future". Wow, like that means anything. The first thing that jumped to mind was that 80% of Iraqis want the U.S. out and I wondered if there was any correlation between the two and what they might be hopeful about.

12/01/2005 10:27 AM  
Anonymous kilfarsnar said...

Hear hear, 277fia! I'll reaise a glass to UED's!

12/02/2005 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post, I am on the same page re: Rummy.

12/03/2005 11:47 PM  
Blogger Red A said...

By the same token, we could fire MBA who talk about synergies or what not all the time. "We're not firing you, you were downsized."

Give Rummy a break. He has a lot on his plate.

Unless you wish to suggest a replacement that would do better...which is possible but I really wonder if all things would turn rosy by installing someone else.

12/06/2005 3:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wait a second, exactly what would be the downside if we "cut and run"? does anyone REALLY think it could be a more dismal,dangerous and godforlorn place if those happy go lucky yanks just packed up their crap and split?

12/10/2005 2:21 AM  
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