Maureen Dowd: Say Uncle, Rummy

Say Uncle, Rummy
Published: April 29, 2006

Even some State Department officials thought it was like watching a cranky, eccentric uncle with an efficient, energetic niece.

Rummy was ordered to go to Iraq by the president, but he clearly has no stomach for nation-building, or letting Condi run the show. He seemed under the weather after a rough overnight ride on a C-17 transport plane from Washington into Baghdad. And Condi’s aides were rolling their eyes at the less than respectful way the DefSec treated the SecState as she tried to be enthusiastic, in her cheerful automaton way, about what she considers the latest last chance for Iraq.

A reporter in Baghdad asked Rummy about the kerfuffle when Condi talked of “thousands” of tactical errors in Iraq. Rummy later noted that “I don’t know what she was talking about, to be perfectly honest” and that anyone who said that had “a lack of understanding” about warfare. She’s just a silly girl, after all.

He could have taken the opportunity to be diplomatic about the diplomat, but he’s incapable of that, so he just added more fuel to the fire.

“She’s right here, and you can ask her,” he said, pointing to Condi, who said she had not meant errors “in the military sense.” She must have meant mismanagement in the civilians-mucking-up-the-military sense.

The former “Matinee Idol,” as W. liked to call him, is now a figure of absurdity, clinging to his job only because some retired generals turned him into a new front on the war on terror. On his rare, brief visit to Baghdad, he was afraid to go outside Fortress Green Zone, even though he yammers on conservative talk shows about how progress is being made, and how the press never reports good news out of Iraq.

If the news is so good, why wasn’t Rummy gallivanting at the local mall, walking around rather than hiding out in the U.S. base known as Camp Victory? (What are they going to call it, one reporter joked, Camp Defeat?)

In further evidence of their astute connection with the Iraqi culture, the cabinet secretaries showed up there without even knowing the correct name of their latest puppet. It turned out that Jawad al-Maliki, the new prime minister-designate, considered “Jawad” his exile name and had reverted to Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

On the cusp of the third anniversary of “Mission Accomplished,” Rummy was still in denial despite the civil war, with armed gangs of Shiites and Sunnis going out and killing each other and Balkanizing whole communities.

When a reporter asked him what the U.S. had to do to get the militias under control and stop the sectarian dueling, he answered bluntly: “I guess the first thing I have to say is we don’t, the Iraqis do. It’s their country. It’s a sovereign country. This is not a government that has an ‘interim’ in front of it or a ‘transition’ in front of it. It’s a government that’s in for a period of years and undoubtedly, unquestionably, will be addressing the question as to how they can best provide for the security of all of their people.”

Yeah, let’s leave it up to what’s-his-name. We broke it. What’s-his-name can fix it.

The assertions that Iraq is largely peaceful were belied yesterday by our own government. A State Department report on global terrorism counted 8,300 deaths of civilians in Iraq from insurgent attacks — more than half of all those killed by terrorists worldwide — and noted that violence is escalating. The elections have clearly not quelled the violence, and terrorists are said to be trying to turn Iraq’s Anbar province into a base for Al Qaeda and other militants. (And since it’s our State Department, you’ve got to figure they’re soft-peddling it.)

April was the most lethal month for U.S. soldiers this year; at least 67 died.

The Bush II hawks were determined to restore a Reaganesque muscular, “moral” foreign policy, as opposed to the realpolitik of Bush I. But with no solution in sight, Congress is pressing for some realpolitik. With W.’s blessing, lawmakers are sending his father’s old consigliere, James Baker, to Iraq to look for a way out.

As Iran vows to go ahead with its nuclear ambitions, the administration finds itself relying for help on the very people it steamrolled and undermined before the Iraq war: the U.N. and international arms inspectors.

“The Security Council is the primary and most important institution for the maintenance of peace and stability and security, and it cannot have its word and its will simply ignored by a member state,” Condi said after a NATO meeting on Thursday.

Rummy may get prickly with his office niece, but who else but the automaton could make that threat with a straight face?

The Discussion: 3 Comments

Dowd can be a total moron sometimes (actually, much more often than that). As if Rumsfeld cared about the gender of someone (Rice) he thought had accused him of thousands of tactical errors in Iraq. (And indeed, she probably had.)

Actually — no matter how much I happen to agree with Dowd these days that she is (as usual) tracking the feelings of U.S. citizens rather than making any effort to come up with her own ideas. She couldn’t come up with her own idea to save her life.
All she knows is how to attempt to be cute.

April 28, 2006 @ 10:27 pm | Comment

Dowd often nails the problem. Today she hits Bush with this hammer – Iraq has been lost and everybody knows it.

We are now in the time period called “A Decent Interval.” First coined by Sai Gon CIA Chief Frank Snepp, it is the period after we lost, to the period in which we actually leave. We lost in Viet Nam during the 1968 Mau Than Tet attacks – all deaths after that were wasted. We lost in Iraq during the April 2004 attack on Fallujah. After April 2004, everybody knows that the clock is ticking on our oily adventure in the desert.

April 29, 2006 @ 4:45 am | Comment

Yes, I agree, Maureen Dowd quite often nails the problem *exactly right*.

I have no memory of her ever having done this until *after* another columnist has made the same observation first.

April 29, 2006 @ 10:25 am | Comment

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