Thursday, November 9, 2006
By Tony Karon
(journalist from Cape Town, South Africa, resident in New York since 1993, currently a senior editor at TIME.com)
"But instead of admitting and reckoning with the fact that the war they advocated was a catastrophically bad idea, everyone from neocon hacks to flip-flopping Democrats, Bob Woodward (arch channeler of White House sources) and the self-styled “liberal hawks” of the chattering classes, like Peter Beinart and George Packer, have signed on to the notion that it was a good war, the right war, executed badly, because Rumsfeld adhered to some bizarre capital-intensive theory of warfare. In other words, if Rumsfeld had simply sent more troops, the outcome would have been different.
And that narrative, which the White House itself appears to have adopted in the wake of its midterm electoral drubbing, is a self-serving evasion. Indeed, the “blame Rumsfeld for Iraq” chorus reminds me of nothing as much as listening to Trotskyists trying to rescue Bolshevism by blaming its grotesque consequences on Stalin’s “implementation” rather than on its inner logic.
None of this absolves Rumsfeld, of course. I’ve always seen him as a kind of scary clown figure, light reflecting off his glasses as he muttered his trademark circular dissembling. Like a Dr. Strangelove character who might be played by Jack Nicholson… America is well rid of him. But it has not yet confronted the problem as long as Cheney, and Condi, and Bush himself are on the job, and the media is still taking seriously all the revisionist pundits who blame Rumsfeld for their own hubris."