Monday, December 11, 2006

Rumsfeld says Goodbye

I happened to catch Rumsfeld's "Townhall" goodbye on C-Span yesterday and was mesmerized. Lt. Smash has a good description of actually being there at this historic meeting. After watching the entire forum - I was left with three related thoughts:

1. I have a friend who is a Lt-Col with the Air Force Reserves and he likes to describe Rumsfeld as "three for four." What he means by that is that Rumsfeld was successful in the battle plans for Iraq and Afghanistan as well as being successful in helping to transform the military from the static forces of the Cold War to the agile forces required to face the dangers of the 21st century. The one failure my friend considers to be Rumsfeld's is the failure of the occupation of Iraq. Of Rumsfeld's successes the most far reaching (according to my friend) is the transformation of the Pentagon.

2. The only time during the Townhall that Rumsfeld seemed upset was when describing how the military has done everything it could in rebuilding Iraq but that some of the social and economic changes that need to take place are beyond the purview of the military and that the State Department has been given a free pass on the matter. In particular he spoke about how the DoD had no budget for training police in Iraq but the responsibility for such training (in the very least in the public's mind) had become somehow the responsibility of the military. Rumsfeld said that such training was -years behind where it needed to be because people in Washington could not see outside their own "silos" (my word). I've thought on what Rumsfeld said about it and I think he was 100% right.

3. Historians will be very kind to Rumsfeld. Very kind.

Rumsfeld was a lightning rod because he was such a "do-er". He got things done. That's why I think him leaving now may turn out to be a good thing. Without Rumsfeld to be the point and to take the blame (Rumsfeld NEVER took the credit) - people from State and Treasury and others will have to step up to the plate and help out with areas that they should have been handling all along. Rumsfeld being Rumsfeld shielded them from scrutiny but with Rumsfeld gone their dawdling will face the light of day.

Why things like training police were left to the military is a good question that deserves to be answered. The ISG will help put the State Department more front and center and that is a good thing because it is time for them to start sharing the load or at least starting to carry their fair share.

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