The Bush folks are incorrigible.
Instead of retreating into a monastery somewhere, Donald Rumsfeld has the gall to release his memoir, a shamelessly self-serving heap of tripe.
Rumsfeld had the dubious distinction of disastrously helming an illegal war. But this doesn't seem to have deterred him from stepping back into the spotlight. He uses the opportunity to engage in score-settling, pinning blame on others for the biggest foreign policy debacle in decades.
"In his worldview, the news media and authors who recounted Bush's term in office have distorted almost everything -- including the timing of the decision to go to war in Iraq after the 9/11 attacks; the responsibility for holding, interrogating and prosecuting detainees in Guantanamo Bay; and even the handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," Gwen Ifill writes in the Washington Post.
But it is Rumsfeld who got it all wrong -- from downplaying the Al Qaeda threat to searching for a nonexistent Saddam Hussein connection with the 9/11 attacks. Andrew Cockburn reveals in "Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy" that Rumsfeld's reaction to a July 20, 2001, CIA memo warning of a Osama bin Laden-directed attack on the United States was to accuse it of being duped by "vast doses of Al Qaeda misinformation." And on the very same afternoon of the September 11, he directed General Richard Myers to "find the best info fast ... judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. @ same time." S.H. here is, of course, Saddam Hussein. Apparently, there weren't enough good targets in Afghanistan and lots of high-quality ones in Iraq, as Rumsfeld reportedly told top Bush Administration security expert Richard Clarke.
His Saddam fixation didn't prevent Rumsfeld from gross dereliction of duty while spearheading the Iraq War. His insistence on having a light, mobile presence in Iraq led him to disregard the advice of generals like Eric Shinseki, who urged a much larger force to secure the country. And his callous disregard for the Iraqi people can be seen by his famous remark in response to the lawlessness in post-invasion Iraq: "Stuff happens ... freedom's untidy."
There are very few regrets in the memoir. Rumsfeld still justifies the Iraq War, and says there was nothing wrong in the way the Afghanistan War was conducted. He takes potshots at many of his colleagues, especially Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. There's a special animus reserved for Bush Senior, lingering from the Nixon era. The only two major players to escape his wrath are his old buddy Dick Cheney and, to a certain extent, Dubya.
It would be expecting too much from a person like Rumsfeld to ask him to engage in some introspection. But he could have done us all a favor by continuing to sulk in the shadows.
If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of The Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "History is Being Made -- Without the U.S.."
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