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Now Rummy Tells Us

On Dec. 2 the New York Times posted the text of a leaked memo  written by outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (see below). The memo was dated Nov. 6, one day before the congressional midterm elections in which the Republicans would lose majorities in the House and Senate and two days before President Bush would accept Rumsfeld’s resignation. Since Rumsfeld and President Bush both supposedly knew  Rumsfeld was leaving office when Rumsfeld wrote the memo, perhaps Rummy intended to help provide a ”fresh perspective for his designated successor, former CIA director Robert Gates. The defense secretary uses parentheses to clarify his comments in the memo and delineates his option preferences as “above the line” and “below the line (less attractive options).” Rumsfeld’s least-favored option is modeled on President Clinton’s nation-building diplomatic effort to end conflict in Bosnia: “Try a Dayton-like process.”

Rumsfeld has several ideas for altering the behavior of Iraqi security forces and the country’s provincial, political, and religious leaders. He compares the effort to ” ‘taking our hand off the bicycle seat’ so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country.” Mr. Rumsfeld seems to favor a carrot-and-stick approach, suggesting the United States provide “security only for those provinces or cities that … actively cooperate” and, in another option, that the U.S. “provide money to key political and religious leaders (as SaddamHussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period.” That parenthetical reference to Saddam Hussein is not some wisecrack interjected by Slate. It’s what Rumsfeld actually wrote himself. See “Rumsfeld’s Rules“:

Visit with your predecessors from previous administrations. They know the ropes and can help you see around some corners. Try to make original mistakes, rather than needlessly repeating theirs.

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