SOUTH BEND, Ind. – This past week’s events marked one of the greatest breakups in American history. It’s been all over the papers and the Internet; there’s no way you could have missed it. W. called up Rummy and told him that it just wasn’t working out anymore, that something had to give and that their time together was over.
And just like that, Bush had dumped Rumsfeld like Britney dumped K-Fed. Just as K-Fed had cameras rolling as the news of his divorce was text messaged to him during the taping of a reality show, Bush broke the news during a press conference following a dramatic Democrats’ sweep of a number of mid-term elections to take power in the House and Senate. Both K-Fed and Rumsfeld were called out on getting by based on their unfounded facades of optimism for success (over a rap album and a war, respectively) and having spouses or friends in high places. I guess sometimes that’s just not enough to cover up blatant incompetence and inadequacy.
The main difference between the two cases is that there is no custody battle over Bush and Rumsfeld’s three-year old child, Quagmire (although it should be noted that some investigatory journalists attribute the paternity of Quagmire to Cheney, not Bush). Robert Gates, former CIA director under George H.W. Bush and 26-year intelligence veteran, has been nominated as the guardian-to-be of Quagmire. Is there a worse job in the administration right now than being the guy who is sent in to clean up the mess that this administration has crafted, executed and exacerbated for years? Gates’ extensive experience with the intelligence community will undoubtedly be a fresh change from Rumsfeld’s know-it-all micromanagement style, repeatedly rebuffing intelligence advisers whose analysis did not conveniently support his own assertions about what actions should be taken and why. However, regardless of Gates’ credentials, Iraq is a mess. Both sides of the aisle are finally in agreement on this. While there is still major disagreement over what needs to be done, I feel that by letting Rumsfeld out to pasture, the first big step has been taken towards reaching any kind of bipartisan agreement.
However, Gates is in for a rough two years. Let’s face it, there’s no way that a timetable that dictates redeployment/retreat/removal/pick-your-favorite-buzzword of U.S. troops will take any real heat off of the administration or the future administrations. The seeds for future terrorism have been sewn throughout Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, just to name a few, by this administration’s choices of action and inaction.
After all, it’s only a matter of time, on our present course, that U.S. embassies or personnel are hit outside of Iraq itself by a major Al Qaeda attack launched from their newly created division within Iraq. That day will reveal the ultimate tragic irony that we are currently marching towards. That will be the day that we realize that the United States had ignored history and common sense in its approach to “nation-building” and “pre-emptive war.”
I know my outlook on homeland security is downright cynical and fatalistic but it is marked with a growing tinge of optimism in new leadership. It’s not too late to change our present course and start drafting foreign policy that makes sense for the U.S. both now and in the future. Hopefully new leadership within the Congress, a resurgence of bipartisanship, and a shift of key figures within the administration (I don’t think that the pink slips are done being doled out in the White House) will remind the administration of the failure of Vietnam, the Iran-Contra scandal, the arming of militants in Afghanistan to overthrow the Soviets back in the day (which lead to the rise of Osama bin Laden as a leader) and the price of ignoring humanitarian conflicts such as the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan (Sudan being the failed state of choice for Osama to initially set up Al Qaeda operations back in 1991).
Rumsfeld and Bush have both identified “how they are seen in history” as their metric of choice for their success. They ignore present public opinion and popularity polls in favor of what will prove to be best in the long run. Ironically, it seems that they are the ones that clearly need the history lessons. If they aren’t paying attention to the lessons that past military interventions and campaigns have to teach, then history will likely not end up judging them any better than those responsible for crafting failed foreign policies in the past.
I only wonder if Bush went so far to use the infamous “it’s not you, it’s me” line when he broke it off with Rumsfeld. Somehow I doubt that truth will come out for a couple more years.