History,  Iraq

You don’t say, Rummy

In his new memoir, former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld concedes that, “[i]n retrospect, there may have been times when more troops could have helped” in Iraq.

Care to add a few more qualifications– you know, just to make sure nobody actually holds you responsible?

Remember that before the 2003 invasion, Rumsfeld rebuked Army chief of staff General Eric Shinkseki for telling Congress that many more troops would be needed than were actually sent. Shinseki wisely noted:

I would say that what’s been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We’re talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that’s fairly significant with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems.

According to Time’s Michael Crowley:

Rumsfeld also makes clear, reasonably enough, that not everything was his fault. He pins much of the blame for what went wrong in Iraq on a dysfunctional White House planning process run by national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, at whom Rumsfeld’s camp has sniped before. But he goes a step further–somewhat surprisingly so, for a self-styled loyal soldier–and points a finger at George W. Bush as well. Rumsfeld, writes [The Washington] Post, “suggests the former president was at fault for not doing more to resolve disagreements among senior advisers.”

Again, that was pretty obvious at the time to anyone paying attention.

Crowley also notes the Rumsfeld now says he should have resigned as secretary of defense after the Abu Ghraib revelations–“not because he felt any personal responsibility (he doesn’t)–but because of ‘the continued drum-beat of “torture” maintained by partisan critics of the war,’ as The New York Times quotes him as writing.”

The Times reports:

Mr. Rumsfeld insists that the abuses were the actions of rogue soldiers and that they did not reflect any approved policies, but nevertheless he offered to step down.

But a 2005 report by US military investigators made clear that the techniques eventually used at Abu Ghraib were approved by Rumsfeld for interrogating a stubborn detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to The Washington Post:

The report’s findings are the strongest indication yet that the abusive practices seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers. The report shows that they were used on [Mohamed] Qahtani several months before the United States invaded Iraq.

The investigation also supports the idea that soldiers believed that placing hoods on detainees, forcing them to appear nude in front of women and sexually humiliating them were approved interrogation techniques for use on detainees.

Does Rumsfeld grasp– did he ever grasp– what a moral and strategic disaster Abu Ghraib was for the US?