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    GOP Leaders Join Chorus of Rumsfeld Detractors

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/n...1,151698.story



    GOP Leaders Join Chorus of Rumsfeld Detractors
    By Stephen J. Hedges
    The Chicago Tribune

    Saturday 18 December 2004

    Washington - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is accustomed to the barbs of public life. Any number of people, for the most part Democrats, have been complaining about him since 1969, when he joined the Nixon administration.

    But a different roster of A-list critics is now finding fault with Rumsfeld's management of the military and the war in Iraq. And the sharpest jabs are coming from noteworthy Republicans, including Sens. John McCain of Arizona; Trent Lott, the former Senate majority leader from Mississippi, and Susan Collins, the Maine senator who just helped shepherd intelligence reform through Congress.

    McCain said he has lost confidence in Rumsfeld, Lott said he should quit sometime in the next year and Collins wrote him a letter asking him about armor on vehicles in Iraq, or the lack of it.

    Outside government, William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, called for Rumsfeld to resign, writing that the soldiers "deserve a better defense secretary than the one we have."

    He was joined by Thomas Donnelly, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, who called Rumsfeld "an arrogant and isolated Beltway bigwig."

    Taken together, Rumsfeld's critics are voicing pent-up frustrations over the conduct and cost of the war in Iraq, its effect on an overtaxed military, and a series of Pentagon scandals and investigations that include the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, the use of prewar intelligence and ties to an Iraqi opposition group, and federal convictions linked to a no-bid contract for Air Force tanker planes.

    'Days are Numbered'

    "This is a trend," said analyst Loren Thompson, president of the Lexington Institute, a Washington-area defense think tank. "What's happening now is that, with the problems in Iraq appearing not to improve, all the reservations about Rumsfeld are becoming more acceptable to voice in public. It is so rare for senior senators from the secretary's own party to say they have no confidence in him. The fact of the matter is, his days are numbered now."

    Not so, says the White House. President Bush's aides have been buffeted for more than a week with questions about Rumsfeld's comments and his future in the Cabinet, and at every turn they've offered assurances that Rumsfeld is staying.

    "The president believes Secretary Rumsfeld is someone who is an important member of our team and someone who is helping us to move forward as we defeat the ideology of hatred that leads to terrorism," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Friday.

    Rumsfeld spokesman Bryan Whitman said, "There are comments from [Capitol] Hill criticizing him and comments supporting him. The secretary has nothing new to say about this."

    The impetus for the calls for Rumsfeld's resignation was the secretary's Dec. 8 meeting with troops in Kuwait, and his answer to a soldier's complaint about the lack of armored vehicles for duty in Iraq.

    Rumsfeld bluntly replied: "You go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

    The soldier's unit went safely into Iraq, the Army said later, with the final installation of armor on its vehicles completed within 24 hours of the complaint. Rumsfeld, on the other hand, returned to a free-fire zone in Washington, where his comments became a touchstone for the ill will that has been building in both parties.

    Some of the frustration within the GOP is motivated by complaints that members of Congress hear from constituents whose sons and daughters are driving in unarmored Humvees, or whose spouses have been held over in Iraq or are returning there for a second tour. For National Guard members, that means leaving behind careers and families and household finances.

    Few Answers

    Others are angry over lending support to the war based on the promising postconflict scenarios that Rumsfeld and his aides predicted. Now those same politicians need answers that will satisfy voters. And good answers are hard to find.

    "While Bush doesn't have to run again, these guys have to in 2006," said Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. "I think that Rumsfeld, and that infamous meeting [in Kuwait], became a metaphor for the American people about what's going wrong there."

    If so, that would help explain the visceral reaction that Rumsfeld's performance drew from Senate GOP leaders. Rumsfeld, despite his years of Washington experience and his service in the House during the 1960s, has not fared well on the Hill during the last four years. The reason, staff members say, is simple: Rumsfeld, a natural glad-hander, hasn't worked hard enough to satisfy those who would be his allies, or to disarm those who were his known enemies.

    With elections in Iraq scheduled for Jan. 30, few would expect a change at the top of the Pentagon before then. How those elections are conducted, and whether they push Iraq's nascent government forward and help reduce the daily cycle of violence, could influence Rumsfeld's prospects.

    But odds that the vote will go well are not good. U.S. military commanders in Iraq have predicted increased violence as the election approaches.

    "Right after the election Rumsfeld will probably resign," Korb predicted. "He'll say, 'I've done my job, I've seen the election through, produced a new defense budget.' Whatever else people may think about Bush, he's a good politician. ... He knows that if he forces Rumsfeld out, it's an admission that the war was wrong."

    Though a politician at heart, Rumsfeld was kept out of the 2004 presidential campaign, with Bush advisers recognizing how difficult the war issue might be on the campaign trail. During the next month, after time off for the holidays, the installation of a new Congress with bigger Republican majorities in both houses and Bush's second inauguration on Jan. 20, the boiling anger over Rumsfeld could be reduced to a simmer.

    But calls for his resignation could just as easily pick up again in late January, as the new Congress takes up defense spending issues and the Senate Armed Services Committee convenes hearings to examine the Pentagon's prewar planning.

    "There's no question that Rumsfeld is a man of courage and conviction," said analyst Thompson. "But the problem is he will stick with a position long after the rest of the world has concluded it's wrong. If you're going to be a man of conviction, you're going to have to live with the verdict of the marketplace."




    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Go to Original

    Neo-Cons on the Road to Damascus
    By Jim Lobe
    Inter Press Service

    Saturday 18 December 2004

    Washington - Just when it appeared that Syria was complying in earnest with U.S. demands to secure its border with Iraq, and even making unprecedented peace overtures to Israel, key neo-conservative opinion shapers are calling on President George W Bush to take stronger measures against Damascus, possibly including military action.

    The media campaign was launched last week when three analysts associated with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a neo-conservative group that generally backs positions of Israel's right-wing Likud Party, published an article in the Washington Times titled "Syria's murderous role: Assad aides [sic] Iraq's terrorist insurgency".

    Then William Kristol, the influential chairman of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard, devoted his lead editorial, "Getting serious about Syria", to the same subject, concluding that, despite the stresses on the U.S. military in Iraq, "real options exist" for dealing with Damascus.

    "We could bomb Syrian military facilities; we could go across the border in force to stop infiltration; we could occupy the town of Abu Kamal in eastern Syria, a few miles from the border, which seems to be the planning and organizing center for Syrian activities in Iraq; we could covertly help or overtly support the Syrian opposition ... "

    On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal followed up in its lead editorial - always a reliable indicator of neo-con opinion on the Middle East - charging, "Syria is providing material support to terrorist groups killing American soldiers in Iraq while openly calling on Iraqis to join the 'resistance'."

    The editorial, "Serious About Syria?" accused the Bush administration of responding to these provocations with "mixed political signals and weak gestures", and urged it to at least threaten military action, much as Turkey "mobilized for war against Syria" in 1998 over Damascus' support for Kurdish rebels.

    Within hours, President George W Bush himself was talking tough on Damascus. Asked during a White House photo-op with visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi about accusations by Iraq's defense minister of alleged Syrian and Iranian support for the Sunni insurgency, the president warned the two countries that "meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq is not in their interest".

    In some ways, the new campaign against Syria recalls a similar effort that began building in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Then, Washington was seen as an irresistible force in the region, and neo-conservatives and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld appeared to be spoiling for a fight with Syria, which, they charged, was harboring senior members of the formerly ruling Ba'ath Party and Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

    But, as the insurgency grew more potent in the fall of 2003, Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove, ordered the hawks to stand down, lest a new military adventure cost the president his re-election. Now that Bush has won a second term, they need not worry about the possible political consequences.

    But that fails to explain precisely why the hawks are making such a fuss over Syria at this moment, particularly given the prevailing Washington consensus - including among the hawks themselves - that Iran's nuclear program represents a much more important strategic challenge to the administration.

    In contrast to the charges that were made against Damascus 16 months ago, the new campaign appears to be based primarily on alleged statements by unidentified U.S. military and intelligence officials cited in the Washington Times op-ed and a subsequent Washington Post news article, to the effect that the Sunni insurgency in Iraq is being organized, funded and even managed by, as the Post put it, "a handful of Iraqi Ba'athists operating in Syria".

    One supposedly critical piece of evidence much cited by the hawks was the reported discovery of a global positioning signal receiver in a bomb factory in the Iraqi insurgents' stronghold of Fallujah, which "contained waypoints originating in western Syria".

    These mostly anonymous accounts were recently echoed by visiting King Abdullah of Jordan and Iraqi President Ghazi Yawar, who also charged, as has Washington, that Syria has trained and helped infiltrate its own and other "foreign fighters" into Iraq.

    The Post quoted one former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, who said, "There is an increasing view [in the intelligence community] that Syria is at the center of the problem."

    While Kristol and others have seized on these reports as proof of Syria's sinister role in Iraq, they have ignored other evidence of increased cooperation by Damascus, particularly in sealing its border.

    Indeed, on the same day that Kristol issued his call to arms against Damascus, the Journal's news reporters published an article that began: "Senior military officers and other U.S. officials say Syria has made a serious effort in recent weeks to stanch the flow of fighters moving across its border into and out of Iraq, and has arrested at least one former Iraqi Ba'athist accused by the U.S. of helping to finance and coordinate the insurgency."

    At the same time, a number of published accounts about the aftermath of the capture of Fallujah established that the number of Syrian and other "foreign fighters" involved in the insurgency there was far less than had been expected, putting paid to the theory that foreigners from Syria or elsewhere were a major factor in the uprising, as had long been claimed by the Pentagon and its neo-con backers.

    As Josh Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, suggested in his Internet log, or "blog", the hawks want a foreign scapegoat for an insurgency about which they still know remarkably little.

    "Post-Fallujah," according to Landis, "the analysts decided that if the resistance was not powered by Syrians, then it was led by Iraqis living in Syria; hence the spate of articles suggesting the defense department had adopted this view. It will be interesting to see if it has more staying power than the last theory."

    Moreover, added Landis, the U.S. administration has little to lose. "Washington isn't having much luck with other strategies for defeating the resistance and Syria has been quite cooperative in the past and will probably be so in the future. So why not mount yet another Syria-bashing campaign?"

    Bassam Haddad, who teaches Arab politics at St Joseph's University in Philadelphia, told IPS he sees the current campaign as an effort to intimidate Damascus, with two aims in sight.

    First, the hawks want to gain more cooperation from Damascus on tightening its borders with Iraq and arresting or expelling Ba'athist exiles in Syria who may indeed - according to both Landis and Haddad - be supporting the insurgency in various ways. Second, pressing Syria could further tilt the regional balance of power in Israel's favor, at a moment when prospects for renewed peace negotiations are brighter than they have been in a very long time.

    "There's very little happening in Iraq today that Syria is responsible for ... so, if there is some kind of strategy behind all of this, it is probably to apply pressure for concessions leading to eventual negotiations with the Israelis," particularly with respect to Syrian support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian groups operating in Damascus, said Haddad.

    The current campaign may also reflect a growing sense of urgency among the neo-cons, in particular, that "a window of opportunity" for pressuring Syria is closing as the situation in Iraq deteriorates. "I think these factions would like to see something done about Syria before it becomes hugely unpopular to take military action," he added.

    But both experts suggest a risk in applying too much pressure on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad which, according to Landis, will be extremely reluctant to enter into a major fight on Bush's behalf with many of the 500,000 Iraqis who have come to Syria in the past year, "not to mention with local Islamists and mosque leaders".

    "I fear, as do many in the State Department who know Syria," said Haddad, "that the current Syrian regime is far more preferable to both Syrians and Americans than possible alternatives ... the best organized of which are fundamentalist Sunni Muslims."

    -------
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    Does this surprise you Cock?
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    I admire John McCain as a former POW in Vietnam but he's one of the BIGGEST blowhard politicians around because he's always on TV pretending to be the holier than thou saint of politics & Trent Lott is just looking for publicity at the moment criticizing Rumsfeld so I don't take his comments too seriously.
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    Originally posted by Wayne L.
    I admire John McCain as a former POW in Vietnam but he's one of the BIGGEST blowhard politicians around because he's always on TV pretending to be the holier than thou saint of politics & Trent Lott is just looking for publicity at the moment criticizing Rumsfeld so I don't take his comments too seriously.
    Nobody takes Rumsfeld seriously anymore. His lack of foresight and incomptence becoming legendary! I'll take McCain's word over Scumsfeld's any day of the week.
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    As Josh Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, suggested in his Internet log, or "blog", the hawks want a foreign scapegoat for an insurgency about which they still know remarkably little.

    "Post-Fallujah," according to Landis, "the analysts decided that if the resistance was not powered by Syrians, then it was led by Iraqis living in Syria; hence the spate of articles suggesting the defense department had adopted this view. It will be interesting to see if it has more staying power than the last theory."
    'Bout says it all right there.

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    Wayne L.
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    I think more people outside of Washington & the mainstream media take Rumsfeld seriously which is why this is just another mindless controversy for politicians & the press with way too much time on their hands Nickdfresh.

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    Originally posted by Wayne L.
    I think more people outside of Washington & the mainstream media take Rumsfeld seriously which is why this is just another mindless controversy for politicians & the press with way too much time on their hands Nickdfresh.
    Dude, get a clue. Read a little on the subject. Actually, watch this program online from "Frontline" and then you'll know how much the senior Army officers hate Rumsfeld.


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    bush said he's ok, so I guess there's no problem here, right?


    Bush Comes to Rumsfeld's Defense


    "The president did not directly offer his opinion of Rumsfeld's practice, but said, "I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way. And he's a good, decent man. He's a caring fellow."

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...st_pe/rumsfeld

    Great, he's a good, decent, caring man. IS HE COMPETENT?
    Last edited by ODShowtime; 12-20-2004 at 01:47 PM.
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    I do think Rumsfeld needs to go myself. I don't think he ever was the right man for the job in the first place and said so four years ago BEFORE 9/11 and the war began. God help us, though, if that asshole Wolfowitz replaces him. Why couldn't that damn RPG have found its mark?

    As for McCain, I like the man. I voted for him in the Republican primaries in 2000.

    I don't consider myself a Republican or Democrat but an Independent. Labels are too confining. I do, however, choose my issues as I see fit. I am rather conservative in the foreign policy arena and a bit liberal in the social policy sector.

    There you have it...Triple B's political statement...in a nutshell.

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    Originally posted by BigBadBrian
    I do think Rumsfeld needs to go myself. I don't think he ever was the right man for the job in the first place and said so four years ago BEFORE 9/11 and the war began. God help us, though, if that asshole Wolfowitz replaces him. Why couldn't that damn RPG have found its mark?

    I don't consider myself a Republican or Democrat but an Independent. Labels are too confining. I do, however, choose my issues as I see fit. I am rather conservative in the foreign policy arena and a bit liberal in the social policy sector.

    There you have it...Triple B's political statement...in a nutshell.
    What are you drinking tonight BBB? Thanks for being honest about rummy. And God damn you are spot on about wolfo. The real question is who fired on his hotel room?

    Also, it's telling how many "conservatives" on this board admit to being libertarians. Dems too really. I'd jump in that boat before many others.
    Last edited by ODShowtime; 12-21-2004 at 09:54 AM.

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    If Wolfoshit was ever killed by "friendly fire" I would personally pin a medal on the man responsible.
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    Originally posted by Wayne L.
    I admire John McCain as a former POW in Vietnam but he's one of the BIGGEST blowhard politicians around because he's always on TV pretending to be the holier than thou saint of politics & Trent Lott is just looking for publicity at the moment criticizing Rumsfeld so I don't take his comments too seriously.
    Just imagine how seriously we take your comments, Gump.


    Your grasp of John McCain is mindblowing.



    Think, THEN type [ if you must]
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    Originally posted by BigBadBrian
    I do think Rumsfeld needs to go myself. I don't think he ever was the right man for the job in the first place and said so four years ago BEFORE 9/11 and the war began. God help us, though, if that asshole Wolfowitz replaces him. Why couldn't that damn RPG have found its mark?

    As for McCain, I like the man. I voted for him in the Republican primaries in 2000.

    I don't consider myself a Republican or Democrat but an Independent. Labels are too confining. I do, however, choose my issues as I see fit. I am rather conservative in the foreign policy arena and a bit liberal in the social policy sector.

    There you have it...Triple B's political statement...in a nutshell.
    B3,

    Steller!!!!!!!!!

    Couldnt have said it better myself.


    There's hope for you yet, you closet Lib.

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