Friday, November 10, 2006

From this article:
Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Full disclosure: he is indebted to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for TV notoriety on May 4, when McGovern’s impromptu questioning after a Rumsfeld speech in Atlanta elicited denials later shown to be false after fact-checks by the TV networks. McGovern’s acquaintance with Robert Gates, whom the president has picked to succeed Rumsfeld, goes back 36 years to when Gates was a journeyman analyst in the CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy branch led by McGovern.

As the Iraq war goes from bad to worse, President George W. Bush jettisoned “stay the course” in favor of “necessary adjustments.” Yesterday he showed how quickly he can adjust to the mid-term election results, when he jettisoned Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, barely a week after telling reporters Rumsfeld was doing a “fantastic job” and that he wanted him to stay on for the next two years.

It had been clear for weeks that the election would be a referendum on the war in Iraq and that Republican losses would be substantial. And Rumsfeld and Bush had every intention of avoiding the embarrassment likely to come of the grilling of Rumsfeld by congressional committees chaired by Democrats. Besides, who better to try to blame for the “long, hard slog” in Iraq than the fellow who coined the expression, and then implemented it with dubious distinction?

I have the sense that Rumsfeld offered himself as scapegoat for Iraq, not only to avoid another acrimonious tangle with Sen. Hillary Clinton , but also to help Bush project an image of flexibility and decisiveness to cope with the imminent sea change in Congress.

Neoconservatives Eat Their Own

Former allies are among those now denouncing him. The abandonment is enough to pin down even an old wrestler like Rumsfeld, but perhaps the most unkindest cut of all came from longstanding supporter “Cakewalk Ken” Adelman who, like other neoconservatives, have turned mercilessly on their old, now discredited friend. In an interview for David Rose’s “Neo Culpa” in Vanity Fair, Adelman came across as feeling jilted.

We’re losing in Iraq... I’ve worked with [Rumsfeld] three times in my life. I’ve been to each of his houses in Chicago, Taos, Santa Fe, Santo Domingo, and Las Vegas. I’m very, very fond of him, but I’m crushed by his performance. Did he change, or were we wrong in the past? Or is it that he was never really challenged before? I don’t know. He certainly fooled me.

As the saying goes, with friends like that, who needs Hillary? ...Or a pummeling by the Army-Navy-Air Force-Marine Corps Times?

I almost feel sorry for Donald Rumsfeld (and I’m not just saying that because, with the “Military Commissions Act” now signed into law, he can declare me—or anyone—an unlawful enemy combatant and “disappear” me into some black hole for the rest of my days). What betrayal. What disingenuousness. Et tu , Cakewalk Ken? The neoconservatives are attempting to push the blame onto Rumsfeld for the debacle they authored. Parallel attempts by administration officials to scapegoat Rumsfeld will be equally transparent and unconvincing.

The “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal ” may now be down to one. But there is every sign that Cheney will continue to be the dominant force in the White House, and he recently asserted:

You cannot make national security policy on the basis of [elections]. It may not be popular with the public. It doesn’t matter, in the sense that we have to continue the mission [in Iraq].

Granted, Cheney made those comments before the election. But it is virtually certain that Bush vetted with Cheney the nomination of Robert Gates to succeed Rumsfeld and, if past experience is precedent, it is a virtual certainty that Gates will continue to earn an A+ for “loyalty.” Look for a “Cheney-Gates cabal.”

Gates has been getting unduly positive press treatment since the announcement of his nomination. This is in part due to his participation in the realist-led Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel tasked with devising plans to stabilize Iraq. There’s hope that Gates will help push through the group’s recommendations.

It is always possible that Gates really will bring, in the president’s words, “a fresh perspective and new ideas on how America can achieve our goals in Iraq,” but to those of us who have watched Gates parrot and implement White House policies—not create new ones—this seems a long shot. And as noted yesterday by Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., who will probably chair the House International Affairs Committee:

You can’t unscramble the omelet and the tremendous mistakes that were made after major military operations; I don’t see any magical solutions.

It seems only fair at the outset to give Gates the benefit of the doubt. He can hardly match the disaster Rumsfeld wrought with his fancy language and fanciful ideas, but that is damning with faint praise. Unless Gates’ years outside the Beltway have wrought major behavioral change, Gates will bend to the wishes of Cheney and Bush and avoid taking stands on principle. While it is one thing to give him the benefit of the doubt; it is quite another to be oblivious to the considerable baggage he brings with him from past service.

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