Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Now You Tell Us

Greg Djerejian (who has been on fire lately), links to this Donald Rumsfeld press conference in order to highlight some, shall we say, more callous thoughts from the Donald [emphasis Greg's]:

SEC. RUMSFELD: Let me go back to your question about sectarian violence. I may not have answered the last half of it as fully as I would like. Needless to say, any time there's violence, sectarian or otherwise, it's something that one has to be concerned about and oppose and attempt to do something about.

There has been sectarian violence in that part of the world for decades. And I think the important thing to do is for us to be concerned about it and for General Casey and his folks to work on it, and for the political process to go forward in a way that it would mute it and minimize it.

I think we also have to recognize that there's criminal elements at work here, and it's not trivial. It's fairly significant. And I would add that it ought to be put in context. Think back. There -- I don't know whether the number's for sure 100,000 or 200,000 or 300,000 dead Iraqi people, men, women and children, filling mass graves in that country.

And so it's -- to isolate out violence today and say, "Oh, my goodness, there's violence today; isn't that different" -- which you did not do, of course, but I'm stating it myself -- would be out of context, because in fact there's been incredible violence in that country for year after year after year. And that does not minimize what's taking place today, but at least it puts it in a broader context and -- one would think.

A couple of thoughts, other than to note the somewhat craven repudiation of the "pottery barn" rule and the utter lack of responsibility shown by Rumsfeld's "things were bad before, so no real harm now" line of reasoning. According to Rumsfeld, we might have broken it, but it wasn't working so well before, so, er, we're not paying for it. Otherwise, maybe someone in the Bush administration should have brought up the "decades" of "incredible" sectarian violence that have plagued Iraq's history before we decided to invade, and rightly question how this violent past and present might impact key decisions - including, most importantly, whether such conditions would make Iraq a reasonable candidate for the attempted imposition of democracy, top-down, by a western occupying force, post-shock and awe invasion.

Further, maybe someone should have informed the brilliant and well-learned Paul Wolfowitz of this history before he went and tut-tutted General Shinseki's projections on ideal troop numbers for the invasion/occupation. According to Wolfowitz, we didn't need to adhere to the Balkans formula for optimal troop to civilian ratios because there was no history of ethnic/communal strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo.

Which is true, if you ignore the "decades" of "incredible" sectarian/communal violence in Iraq. But hey, what's history to a visionary.

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