Saturday, July 3, 2021

Good and dead: war criminal, liar, subverter of democracy, and mainstream Republican Donald Rumsfeld

The obituary page of
The Massachusetts Spy

By Luke Reschuss
Obituary Editor

There could be no more fitting sendoff to the evil incompetent Donald Rumsfeld than today's announcement that U.S. forces successfully slinked away from Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, almost two decades after Rumsfeld started and then lost a war that resulted in 18 painful unnecessary years of lost and broken American (and other) lives:

At least there were no photos of desperate evacuees grasping at helicopters as there were during a previous Republican war debacle in 1975.

But the shambles of Afghanistan can serve as a fitting memorial for the crafty little warmonger, whose intelligence and judgment were sadly outweighed by his propensity for self-serving finagling and lies.  

Or maybe a more fitting monument could be the even bigger but equally futile bloodbath in Iraq, for which he was largely responsible.  After 17 years of war in Iraq, here's what Rummy wrought in this ancient seat of civilization:

American airstrikes against two Iranian-backed militias on Monday were just the latest skirmish in a conflict between the United States and Iran that is playing out on Iraqi soil.

Iran has relied on the militias to attack American assets in Iraq, putting pressure on the United States while the two countries engage in indirect talks over their nuclear deal in Vienna. Monday’s airstrikes were the second time the Biden administration has responded militarily to the harassment.

But the conflict between its two powerful allies has put Iraq squarely in the middle. Unable to rein in the Iranian-backed forces or to stop the United States from retaliating, Iraq now faces the biggest threat to its stability since the Islamic State was marching toward Baghdad in 2014.

Consequential and controversial?
In other words, a failed state that represents a continuing black hole of war and instability in the Middle East and a vehicle for Iran (which Republicans and Likudniks tell us is the greatest threat to the world's peace and stability outside out of Critical Race Theory) to dominate a once-independent counterweight to its influence.

Of course, after a career filled with lies, war crimes, and defeat, Rumsfeld was given the sendoff he deserved, amirite?

Here's the lede of The Washington Post's panegyric:

Donald H. Rumsfeld, whose roles overseeing the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and efforts to transform the U.S. military made him one of history’s most consequential as well as controversial Pentagon leaders, died June 29 at his home in Taos, N.M.

Consequential and controversial?  Ffs.  

We recall that he conned the Post's credulous editorial page editor for life Generalissimo Freddie Hiatt '76 into supporting his half-assed war of choice in Iraq so maybe the Post was simply trying to cover up its own complicity.

Anyone else want to chime in? How about you, Phyllis Bennis of The Nation?

The human, environmental, economic, and social costs of Rumsfeld’s war in Iraq are staggering.

Rummy said he stood up all day
so what was the bfd?

In Afghanistan at least 47,245 civilians and 69,000 security forces have been killed in the war since 2001....Iraq Body Count has documented a total of 288,000 deaths from violence since Rumsfeld’s Iraq war began in 2003. Of those, from 186,000 to 209,000 deaths were of civilians. The numbers are all approximate. While Rumsfeld’s military made clear from the beginning that it would count every injury and certainly every death among US forces, tabulating Afghan civilians or Iraqi families killed in the wars was just not their thing. “We don’t do body counts,” he blithely acknowledged in 2002.

According to the National Priorities Project, Rumsfeld’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost $5.4 trillion and counting. If Rumsfeld and his Bush administration cohorts had decided to treat the 9/11 attacks for what they were, a horrific crime against humanity, rather than answering those acts with a global war, imagine what that money could have been used for instead....And all those hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis would still be alive.

Yeah that's more like it. 

We don't think we can improve on that verdict. As our contribution, we'd like to place Rumsfeld where he belongs: in the mainstream of the Republican Party over the past fifty years.

Rummy's first brush with infamy was as one of Tricky Dick Nixon's clean-cut henchmen.  In Don's case, after helping to rig the 1968 Republican Convention for Nixon, he was rewarded with an important Nixon initiative: f***king the poor to appease the white racists that Nixon brought into the Republican base, where they have raged ever since.

His brilliant success in quashing the hopes and dreams of America's immiserated led to a series of other high-level jobs in Republican Administrations, including two stints as Defense Secretary.  His lust to invade Iraq was stoked by the 9/11 attacks, in which (inconveniently for his warmongering) Iraq was not involved.  But Rumsfeld was never a man to let facts or morality interfere with his wet dream of imposing American hegemony on the cheap. 

Rumsfeld's vision of American warfare
Actual veteran and novelist Phil Klay explained Rummy's, um, vision slightly more sympathetically:

The defense secretary’s disastrous early decisions weren’t the result of stupidity so much as his unshakable adherence to a vision of American warfare that outlives him. That vision imagined a military that eschews the fetters of international institutions and nation-building, and instead conducts rapid strikes using technology and air power and small specialized units rather than large ground forces. 

If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s a good description of how we’ve been using our military in recent years. From 2018 to 2020, American forces have engaged in combat in eight nations (Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria and Yemen) and supervised forces in four other countries (Cameroon, Libya, Niger and Tunisia). . . .

And those turned out great!

The belief that America could impose its will on the world on the cheap has been a staple of white male Cold Warriors since it was first falsified at the Bay of Pigs.  It persists at a low level today, but at least for another generation the carnage and futility of Iraq and Afghanistan should prevent any mass deployment of American forces except at the Mexican border.

But it took a man of Rummy's adamantine cluelessness to adhere to it long after it was clear to even the meanest intelligence (in this case, President George W. Bush) that it didn't work.

His decision making in Iraq was a clusterf*** of arrogance, stupidity, and immorality that would make even Gen. Westmoreland blush.  He elbowed the State Department experts out of any role in planning for his war and occupation, and then claimed to be shocked that his decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi Army, turned out so disastrously.  

He showed contempt for the death and maiming of American troops caused by his lazy planning and offered a not a word of contrition for his failure to prepare properly for the war despite a year's lead time:

Rumsfeld happily sent ill-equipped
National Guardsmen to their doom

Specialist Thomas Wilson, a scout with a Tennessee National Guard unit scheduled to roll into Iraq this week, said soldiers had to scrounge through local landfills here for pieces of rusty scrap metal and bulletproof glass - what they called "hillbilly armor" - to bolt on to their trucks for protection against roadside bombs in Iraq.

"Why don't we have those resources readily available to us?" Specialist Wilson asked Mr. Rumsfeld, drawing cheers and applause from many of the 2,300 troops assembled in a cavernous hangar here to meet the secretary. ...

A few minutes later, a soldier from the Idaho National Guard's 116th Armor Cavalry Brigade asked Mr. Rumsfeld what he and the Army were doing "to address shortages and antiquated equipment" National Guard soldiers heading to Iraq were struggling with.

Mr. Rumsfeld seemed taken aback by the question and a murmur began spreading through the ranks before he silenced them. "Now settle down, settle down," he said. "Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning and I'm gathering my thoughts here." ...

Nonetheless, he warned that equipment shortages would probably continue to bedevil some American forces entering combat zones like Iraq. "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time," Mr. Rumsfeld said. ...

A senior officer in Specialist Wilson's unit, Col. John Zimmerman, said later that 95 percent of the unit's more than 300 trucks had insufficient armor.  

This icy indifference to the needless sacrifice of the finest of America's youth like these unfortunate under-trained and under-equipped National Guard units was memorialized in The Washington Post as just another example of “[h]is wit, directness and folksy language.” 

Yeah, he was a f**in' Mark Twain of massacre. 

And speaking of depravity, his enthusiastic support of torture and war crimes put him in a elite group of war criminals who beat the hangman because they were white and American.

But the point is not that Rummy was some gruesome anomaly.  He wasn't.  He was a lifelong, devoted, mainstream, loyal Republican.  He embodied the values of his party, then and now.

So when Republicans are shocked, shocked to see what has become of their beloved GOP, just remind them that lies, fraud, and depraved indifference to human life and decency didn't take over the Republican Party in 2017. It's been the Republican brand for over half a century. 

If you don't believe us, just ask Torture Gal Liz Cheney:

“Donald Rumsfeld was a great patriot. He was somebody whose career was unparalleled in terms of his service in the Navy, Congress, the Pentagon, the White House." 

Sadly it was paralleled by two generations of Republican grifters and liars, who remind us every day that you commit sedition with the party you have, not the party you might want.

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