April 14, 2006
rats leave the sinking ship — Why Rumsfeld should not resign
Well, here they come: the wannabe Rommels, the gaggle of generals, safely retired, to lay siege to Donald Rumsfeld. This week, six of them have called for the secretary of defense's resignation.
Well, according to my watch, they're about four years too late — and they still don't get it.
I know that most of my readers will be tickled pink that the bemedaled boys in crew cuts are finally ready to kick Rummy in the rump, in public. But to me, it just shows me that these boys still can't shoot straight.
It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who stood up in front of the UN and identified two mobile latrines as biological weapons labs, was it General Colin Powell.
It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who told us our next warning from Saddam could be a mushroom cloud, was it Condoleezza.
It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who declared that Al Qaeda and Saddam were going steady, was it, Mr. Cheney.
Yes, Rumsfeld is a swaggering bag of mendacious arrogance, a duplicitous chicken hawk, yellow-bellied bullyboy and Tinker-Toy Napoleon — but he didn't appoint himself secretary of defense.
Let me tell you a story about the secretary of defense you didn't read in the New York Times, related to me by General Jay Garner, the man our president placed in Baghdad as the US' first post-invasion viceroy.
Garner arrived in Kuwait City in March 2003 working under the mistaken notion that when George Bush called for democracy in Iraq, the president meant the Iraqis could choose their own government. Misunderstanding the president's true mission, Garner called for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. "It's their country," the general told me of the Iraqis. "And," he added, most ominously, "their oil." Let's not forget: It's all about the oil.
I showed Garner a 101-page plan for Iraq's economy drafted secretly by neo-cons at the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon, calling for "privatization" (i.e. the sale) of "all state assets ... especially in the oil and oil-supporting industries." The general knew of the plans and he intended to shove it where the Iraqi sun doesn’t shine. Garner planned what he called a "Big Tent" meeting of Iraqi tribal leaders to plan elections. By helping Iraqis establish their own multi-ethnic government — and this was back when Sunnis, Shias and Kurds were on talking terms — knew he could get the nation on its feet peacefully before a welcomed "liberation" turned into a hated "occupation."
But, Garner knew, a freely chosen coalition government would mean the death-knell for the neo-con oil-and-assets privatization grab.
On April 21, 2003, three years ago this month, the very night General Garner arrived in Baghdad, he got a call from Washington. It was Rumsfeld on the line. He told Garner, in so many words, "Don't unpack, Jack, you're fired."
Rummy replaced Garner, a man with years of on-the-ground experience in Iraq, with green-boots Paul Bremer, the managing director of Kissinger Associates. Bremer cancelled the Big Tent meeting of Iraqis and postponed elections for a year; then he issued 100 orders, like some tin-pot pasha, selling off Iraq's economy to U.S. and foreign operators, just as Rumsfeld's neo-con clique had desired.
Reading this, it sounds like I should applaud the six generals' call for Rumsfeld's ouster. Forget it.
For a bunch of military hotshots, they sure can't shoot straight. They're wasting all their bullets on the decoy. They've gunned down the puppet instead of the puppeteers.
There's no way that Rumsfeld could have yanked General Garner from Baghdad without the word from The Bunker. Nothing moves or breathes or spits in the Bush administration without Darth Cheney's growl of approval. And ultimately, it's the commander-in-chief who's chiefly in command.
Even the generals' complaint — that Rumsfeld didn't give them enough troops — was ultimately a decision of the cowboy from Crawford. (And by the way, the problem was not that we lacked troops — the problem was that we lacked moral authority to occupy this nation. A million troops would not be enough — the insurgents would just have more targets.)
President Bush is one lucky fella. I can imagine him today on the intercom with Cheney: "Well, pardner, looks like the game's up." And Cheney replies, "Hey, just hang the Rumsfeld dummy out the window until he's taken all their ammo."
When Bush and Cheney read about the call for Rumsfeld's resignation, I can just hear George saying to Dick, "Mission Accomplished."
Generals, let me give you a bit of advice about choosing a target: It's the President, stupid.
This commentary first appeared in The Guardian. Read more about the untold story of General Garner and the secret war plans in Armed Madhouse, by Greg Palast, to be released June 6 (US) and July 6 (UK). View Palast's interview with Garner for BBC Television at www.GregPalast.com.
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