Magazine article The American Conservative

Indefensible Secretary

Magazine article The American Conservative

Indefensible Secretary

Article excerpt

[WAR]

Fiasco, the title of Thomas Ricks's book about the Iraq War, is the perfect summation of Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as secretary of defense. The mismanagement of the war and Rumsfeld's resistance to changing course have now become Beltway conventional wisdom. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to The Weekly Standard to rows of retired generals was able to unite around the idea that Rumsfeld should be replaced.

But his culpability goes far beyond invading without enough troops or an adequate plan to secure order in Baghdad. Iraqis would have no more appreciated being invaded by half a million troops than by the smaller army we sent. The greater mistake-too tame a word -lay in the ways Rumsfeld's Pentagon pushed the president and the country into believing that invading Iraq was a plausible response to 9/11. It was Rumsfeld who staffed the Pentagon with officials who had been pining for an invasion of Iraq for years before 9/11. His staff poured into the Washington mix a steady stream of essentially false intelligence-cherry-picked factoids that made it seem that Saddam was in cahoots with al-Qaeda and possessed weapons of mass destruction. …

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