For once, I wholeheartedly agree with Bill Kristol: Donald Rumsfeld is a national embarrassment and his (mooted) departure can't come too soon. I am hoping that, as suggested, he is just hanging around long enough not to muck with the Iraq election (such as it is), and that he will then gracefully bow out. However, it is only a faint hope. After all, he's been loyal to Bush, and as it's painfully obvious that loyalty counts far more than competence in this administration, who's to say if Rummy will ever be held to account for his gross negligence?
"Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe -- it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment. I can assure you that General Schoomaker and the leadership in the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable for it to have, but that they're working at it at a good clip."
So the Army is in charge. "They" are working at it. Rumsfeld? He happens to hang out in the same building: "I've talked a great deal about this with a team of people who've been working on it hard at the Pentagon. . . . And that is what the Army has been working on." Not "that is what we have been working on." Rather, "that is what the Army has been working on." The buck stops with the Army.
At least the topic of those conversations in the Pentagon isn't boring. Indeed, Rumsfeld assured the troops who have been cobbling together their own armor, "It's interesting." In fact, "if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up." Good point. Why have armor at all? Incidentally, can you imagine if John Kerry had made such a statement a couple of months ago? It would have been (rightly) a topic of scorn and derision among my fellow conservatives, and not just among conservatives.
Kristol's not the only one angry at Rummy. In fact, someone who was once rather heavily involved in Iraq has weighed in. Stormin' Norman is not a happy man:
“I was very, very disappointed — no, let me put it stronger — I was angry by the words of the secretary of defense when he laid it all on the Army, as if he, as the secretary of defense, didn’t have anything to do with the Army and the Army was over there doing it themselves, screwing up,” Schwarzkopf said.
John McCain also has the knives out for him:
Asked about his confidence in the secretary’s leadership, McCain recalled fielding a similar question a couple weeks ago. “I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence,” McCain said.
He estimated that 80,000 more Army personnel and 20,000 to 30,000 more Marines would be needed to secure Iraq.
“I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops — linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc.,” McCain said. “There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue.”
By the way, If you want an on-the-ground perspective on the soldiers' view of armor on Humvees, check out this shouldn't-be-funny-but-is home video from Baghdad.