The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Fri. Apr 30, 2004

The Man With No Name

I stumbled across an absolutely infuriating article today, from Barbara Lerner. She claims that what we’re seeing in Iraq today is a result of “Rumsfeld’s War, Powell’s Occupation”: “The latest post-hoc conventional wisdom on Iraq is that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld won the war but lost the occupation. There are two problems with this analysis (which comes, most forcefully, from The Weekly Standard). First, it’s not Rumsfeld’s occupation; it’s Colin Powell’s and George Tenet’s. Second, although it’s painfully obvious that much is wrong with this occupation, it’s simple-minded to assume that more troops will fix it.

There is only one word that adequately speaks to the above: bullshit. So, this occupation belongs to Powell and Tenet? Since when? If we go back to May of 2003, the New York Times clearly states who was in charge from the beginning.

Mr. Bremer will take charge of a multibillion-dollar enterprise currently run by a retired lieutenant general, Jay Garner, who reports to Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the commander of allied forces in Iraq. Mr. Bremer will report directly to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, administration officials said.

Although Mr. Bremer will report to Mr. Rumsfeld, a senior State Department official said, “it’s a transition from a predominantly military structure to a more civilian structure. Rumsfeld chose him, checked it with Powell, we’re fine with it,” the official said. “We know Jerry well, and we can work with him.” (Mr. Bremer is known to his friends as Jerry.)

At the Pentagon, senior officials said Mr. Rumsfeld had long envisioned that Mr. Bremer would ultimately fill the role of overall civilian administrator for Iraq.

N.Y. Times: “President Picks a Special Envoy to Rebuild Iraq”

Funny, Powell and Tenet didn’t seem to be in the CPA’s “chain of command” from the very beginning. Six months later, the Washington Post reported “Rapport Between Bush, Bremer Grows”: “The two men are close enough now that Bremer can cut through the bureaucracy to speed up policy decisions. Although he technically reports to Washington through the Pentagon, Bremer also has a direct line to the White House – a power his predecessor, retired Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, notably lacked.

I guess he could call Colin Powell or George Tenet, too, if he wanted to. But it doesn’t appear to be a required part of the decision process, does it? In addition, when the Coalition Provisional Authority has a briefing, why can’t I find a transcript at a address? Why are they always found at a CENTCOM or Department of Defense web link?

Even when the “Iraq Stabilization Group” was created last October (and, boy, didn’t they do a lot of good?), White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, “Nothing changes in terms of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Department of Defense. This (Iraq) is still being led by the Pentagon, and the Coalition Provisional Authority is carrying out their exact same duties they have been, to help transfer responsibility to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible.

A cursory search will find dozens of opinions that the State Department should have run the rebuilding of Iraq, and that leaving that under the Department of Defense was one of the major mistakes made in the last year.

How Ms. Lerner can so blithely ignore all of the facts of the situation is beyond me. But let’s cut through the bullshit. She’s trying to pin the blame for the current mess in Iraq on Powell and/or Tenet. Others blame it on Rumsfeld and/or Cheney.

Who have we left out? Is it possible there is someone who is responsible for all of their actions?

Ms. Lerner’s article casts abundant blame, and mentions a host of names: Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, Ahmed Chalabi, Jalal Talabani, Massoud Barzani, Saddam Hussein, Jay Garner, Paul Bremer, Moqtada al Sadr, Kofi Annan, and Lakhdar Brahimi.

Nowhere does she mention our current President’s name. Not once. The buck doesn’t stop there for Ms. Lerner. These guys just spontaneously appeared in their jobs, some of them aren’t doing them very well, and they have no oversight whatsoever.

I hope Ms. Lerner’s next column will enlighten us on how we can remove Colin Powell and George Tenet from office, and elect Donald Rumsfeld.

Peanut Gallery

1  Stryker wrote:

What’s hilarious is that the whole thing’s basically an admission that post-war Iraq is screwed-up and the thing’s been seriously bungled.

They only blame Powell when they think the situation is bad.

2  Reid wrote:

I’ll tell you what’s hilarious. After her strident accusation in the opening paragraph, “it’s not Rumsfeld’s occupation; it’s Colin Powell’s and George Tenet’s,” she not only doesn’t offer up one bit of evidence that Powell/Tenet ran the occupation, she never mentions their names again.

And if, as you say, things have been “seriously bungled” ... or even half-bungled … the question isn’t which cabinet level appointee was the Biggest Bungler. The ultimate responsibility lies with the guy who made the appointments, no matter who the cabinet level bungler is.

Right now, there’s nothing that would make me respect Bush more than for him to say, “we’ve got some problems, need a new direction, and so some people have to go.” I’m also pretty sure we’re more likely to see him self amputate his pinkie on national TV.

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