Monday, June 07, 2004

Rumsfeld identifies the problem, admits to ignoring it, concedes defeat, somehow keeps his job.
I know everyone is quoting and linking to stories about Rumsfeld's answer to a question in Singapore yesterday. I'll quote the whole Q and A and link to a DOD transcript of the whole event, if you're interested. It's encouraging that he seems to have such a handle on at least one aspect of the real problem here; it's discouraging that the administration would seem to have admitted having no ability whatsoever in addressing it, hence has made apparently no effort whatsoever to even really think about it. Bold is my frustrated emphasis.
"Question: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned in your presentation from the campaign against global terrorism the importance of preventing a new generation of recruits flowing to the terrorist cause. I wonder if you’re satisfied with the strategy to defeat the national terrorism, is it in fact sufficiently coherent and coordinated to win? In particular, are you satisfied that the coalition’s political warfare operations have gained sufficient traction to prevent new recruits from signing up to the terrorist cause?

Rumsfeld: I’m certain we have not been successful. As the Prime Minister, I forgot whether he mentioned it in his remarks or at the dinner table, but clearly, if the schools that are teaching young folks are teaching them terrorism and suicide bombing and hatred instead of mathematics or science or language or things that can help them become productive members of the society, we’ve got a problem. The world has a problem. And it’s quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this. I think it’s very difficult for people who are not part of that religion to provide the leadership because what you have is a civil war, a struggle in that religion where a small minority of people are trying to hijack it and to focus it in a way that is hostile to civil society. Not the majority, by any means, but we as free people have not developed the skills to counter that. We’re not focusing on it. We’re focusing on law enforcement, we’re focusing on terrorist networks, we’re focusing on trying to defend against terrorist attacks, but terrorism is simply a technique being used by extremists. It is not the problem in and of itself, it’s a weapon that’s being used.
I love how he flows right from our having no skills in this area, as if it's a direct result of being a "free people," a natural outcome that leaves us incapable, to an admission that we're "not focusing on it," an entirely willful act of priority.

When military experts, like Zinni, criticize the lack of strategic planning in this operation, I assume this is the kind of thing he means. It seems like the military leaders are the only ones that understand problem solving, strategic thinking, and seem the most willing to acknowledge that military force is often not the tool to use, given the problem. What I hear Rumsfeld saying is that we are doing what we know how to do, even though it really doesn't address the problem. I can only assume he keeps his job because that is the outlook of the whole Bush team...

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