We’ve been trying to tell him this for years. But none of the options involve adopting an effective defensive posture against jihad activity. “Rumsfeld Memo on Iraq Proposed “˜Major” Change,” by Michael R. Gordon and David S. Cloud in the New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 “” Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.
“In my view it is time for a major adjustment,” wrote Mr. Rumsfeld, who has been a symbol of a dogged stay-the-course policy. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.”
Nor did Mr. Rumsfeld seem confident that the administration would readily develop an effective alternative. To limit the political fallout from shifting course, he suggested the administration consider a campaign to lower public expectations.
“Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis,” he wrote. “This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not “˜lose.” ”
“Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) “” go minimalist,” he added. The memo suggests frustration with the pace of turning over responsibility to the Iraqi authorities; in fact, the memo calls for examination of ideas that roughly parallel troop withdrawal proposals presented by some of the White House’s sharpest Democratic critics. (Text of the Memo)
The memo’s discussion of possible troop reduction options offers a counterpoint to Mr. Rumsfeld’s frequent public suggestions that discussions about force levels are driven by requests from American military commanders.
It also puts on the table several ideas for troop redeployments or withdrawals, even as there have been recent pronouncements from American commanders emphasizing the need to maintain troop levels for the time being.
The memorandum sometimes has a finger-wagging tone, as Mr. Rumsfeld says that the Iraqis must “pull up their socks,” and suggests that reconstruction aid should be withheld in violent areas to avoid rewarding “bad behavior.”
Other options called for shrinking the number of bases, establishing benchmarks that would mark the Iraqis” progress toward political, economic and security goals and conducting a “reverse embeds” program to attach Iraqi soldiers to American squads….
With Mr. Rumsfeld’s resignation, the options no longer have the same weight. In recent weeks, some have been discarded as the Bush administration tries to adjust its military and political strategy in Iraq. But others, like increasing the number of advisers attached to Iraqi forces, live on and have also been recommended by others….
Titled “Iraq “” Illustrative New Courses of Action,” the memo reflects mounting concern over a war that, as Mr. Rumsfeld put it, has evolved from “major combat operations to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency, to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence.”
The first section of the memo contains two pages of options that Mr. Rumsfeld describes as “above the line” ideas worthy of consideration. Some that Mr. Rumsfeld found intriguing appear to reflect his long-held view that the United States should use relatively modest force in intervening in foreign countries to avoid creating a dependency on American power. That approach, critics have charged, left the United States unprepared to deal with the chaos that followed the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Rumsfeld has frequently emphasized the difficulty of stabilizing Iraq and the need to turn over responsibility to Iraqi authorities as quickly as possible. But he has also been a forceful, even cantankerous, defender of American policy, often insisting his critics were unduly pessimistic. On Oct. 31, just a week before finishing the memo, Mr. Rumsfeld told a radio interviewer, “I feel that we are making good progress with the piece of it the Defense Department has.”
One option Mr. Rumsfeld offered calls for modest troop withdrawals “so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country.”
Another option calls for redeploying American troops from “vulnerable positions” in Baghdad and other cities to safer areas in Iraq or Kuwait, where they would act as a “quick reaction force.” That idea is similar to a plan suggested by Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, a plan that the White House has soundly rebuffed.
Still another option calls for consolidating the number of American bases in Iraq to 5 from 55 by July 2007, a considerable shrinking of the American footprint. At the same time, Mr. Rumsfeld all but dismisses the idea of setting a firm date for removing forces from Iraq, listing it as one of the less palatable ideas.
One of the more provocative options would punish provinces that failed to cooperate with the Americans by withdrawing economic assistance and security. “Stop rewarding bad behavior, as was done in Falluja when they pushed in reconstruction funds, and start rewarding good behavior,” the option reads. “No more reconstruction assistance in areas where there is violence.”
Some military officers have said that the idea of denying assistance in some areas ignores the fact that many Iraqis are afraid to cooperate with the Americans for fear of retaliation by insurgents.
Falluja has been the focus of reconstruction efforts following an offensive by Americans that crippled city services and damaged scores of buildings, leaving the United States few options beyond rebuilding or evacuating the city. Now, it is considered by the Marines to be one of the few relatively stable areas in the dangerous Anbar Province. Many of the other towns in the region have become even more hostile because the economic assistance has been minimal, leaving the residents feeling neglected by the authorities in Baghdad, military officers say.
Then, too, work on infrastructure that sprawls across the country, like the electrical grid and the oil pipelines, network, cannot be limited to nonviolent areas….