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Victor Davis Hanson
Rumsfeld’s Rebuttal « Back to Story

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AN EXCELLENT REVIEW.I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Rumsfeld speak this week and was so impressed by his ability to handle all questions and his views on Pres. Bush. He signed books later and was gracious and warm in his greeting of the over 100 waiting to meet him and have there books signed. He is a gentleman and a scholar.
William Fankboner March 24, 2011 at 10:27 AM
What's the big mystery? You don't have to be a Clausewitz to know that to defeat an insurgency you need overwhelming force in its earliest stages. In the case of Iraq, at least three infantry divisions.
Donald Rumsfeld is a great american. I have admired him for forty years. Great book reflecting a great life.
In retrospect it may be seen that the "light footprint" was the right strategy at the time. If it were not for the Iraqi people getting sick of the sectarian violence over a period of 2 years the surge might have been a non-starter.
"By the time of increasing violence in late 2003, shouldn’t the defense secretary have overruled them?

It seems so clear-cut today."

Does it? Of the three principles of the surge (increased troops, freer rules of engagement and Iraqi civilian support, it is the civilian support that was most important. And the locals supported the Americans because they had seen what Islamic fascists would as they gained power. With no "light footprint" there would have been no moment of decision for the locals. Without local resolve, there would have been no success, not the way we saw it, anyway. With 20/20 hindsight, I don't see any clear improvements to The Rumsfeld strategy.
wonderful, insightful,analysis of the situations faced by the Secretary.
"He did it my way".
The truly guilty parties are Colin Powell and the State Department, neither of which were, and still are not equipped to deal with Radical Elements.
Rumsfeld's biggest failing was not recognizing the magnitude of the insurgency until far too late(remember the 'dead enders'?). In my opinion he got a lot of Americans killed that needn't have been.
Thanks for this review. Rumsfeld was an outstanding public servant and we were lucky to have him. His light force won the Iraq war, which otherwise would have been a tedious, high loss slog to Baghdad. The vapids that called him as "Rummy" will be noted as kindly as those who dismissed Lincoln as a "baboon," Grant as a drunk and Churchill as "finished."
Rumsfeld's idea for a lighter, swifter military is a great idea for quick, preemptive or defensive incursions, not for invading a country the size of California and then reconstructing its society. THAT was the reason for his justifiable and long-overdue downfall.
Rumsfeld stand in stark contrast to Colin Powell. Rumsfeld was plain-speaking, had a clear geopolitical view and was a man of genuine accomplishment both in and out of government. Powell was a smooth-talking opportunist whose greatest skill was in being a yes-man, covering his posterior with leaks and Hamlet-like indecision. We need more Rumsfelds. We already have a Commander in Chief who possesses Powell's skills.
Thanks for this.

"Predator drones came of age under Rumsfeld and were attacked by the Left as airborne terrorism, only to have their missions quadrupled under Obama."

Am enjoying Rumsfeld's book. He makes frank assessments of his contemporaries and their policies, and the "insider" narrative is illuminating and entertaining.

I believe Rumsfeld's speech writer Matt Latimer helped with the book, and whose own book "Speech-Less" gives a hilarious look at the petty politicking inside the Pentagon and White House where he worked as speech writer for Rumsfeld and Bush.
My two nephews spent multiple tours in Iraq, and Afghanistan, one in special forces. Both have nothing but good things to say about Rumsfeld, and both proudly display photographs of 'Rummy' with their units. It says alot about the man that those served under him in war admired him. And, when you come right down to it, who else was sticking up for the war effort other than Rumsfeld? Certainly not Rove or Bush - as Rove explained in his book, both he and Bush thought it wouldn't be "Presidential" to explain to the rest of us fools why they were doing what they were doing. During this awful time, when the media was in vicious attack mode, the only one in government doing any 'splaining' was Rumsfeld.

Neither I nor any other conservative (or probably any Republican) will ever forgive Bush or Rove for sitting back in their tower in Washington while we had to listen to the media attack their policies and conservatives 24/7 in 2005 and 2006 - and on to 2008. Their utter disregard for the rest of us on the right, as well as Bush and Rove's misguided and mistimed immigration policy proposals are the real cause of the utter failure of Bush's second term, and it led directly to the awful incompetent we have in office today.

During the early part of this terrible time only one person - Rumsfeld - was dishing out as much as he was taking. Conservatives, Republicans will never forgive Bush and Rove for their characterless, spineless dismissal of this man immediately after the 2006 elections. That Bush and Rove could blame Rumsfeld for the loss of Congress tells you all you would want to know about both men, who by 2006 were throughly disconnected from events.

Was Rummy perfect? Of course not. But at least he had the courage to defend his convictions, unlike those under whom he worked, who somehow thought that defending a war was beneath them.
This is not a beautifully written, elegant essay. It is an exercise in assisted self-excuse. Rumsfeld was an unrestrained egocentric with limited experience with warfare in complex
middle-eastern countries. He should never have been allowed to ride roughshod over every critic and to have allowed an unplanned and optimistic incompetence to screw up the occupation of Iraq - to the great and lasting impoverishment of that country and of the American economy.
Richard Burnett Carter February 28, 2011 at 3:38 AM
This is a beautifully written, elegant essay.
Thank you.
Have you written anything on Xenophon?
Be well,
Prof. Richard Burnett Carter (Ret.)
Gilbert W. Chapman February 28, 2011 at 1:39 AM
Several authors have contended that Jefferson had 'peaked' by the time he became president.

Perhaps it's is much the same case with Rumsfeld. Unlike the baseball legend Ted Williams, he probably should have 'quit the game' prior to 2001.
So how was Shinseki punished?