Saturday, July 02, 2005

LA Times on Rumsfeld starring down the storms

LA Times wrote a commentary on Rumsfeld. Shows how focused the Bush Administration is on long term consequences and cares little for short-term political gain. It's what we want in leaders, but unsettling for politicians and voters alike when we have one.

I think the times call for visionary and consequential leadership. The risks of having plodders and dealers again in Washington outweigh the risks of takeing risks. Fasten your seat belt for the ride though.
Despite all of Rumsfeld's initiatives to transform the Pentagon, many agree that his ultimate legacy will hinge on two outcomes: whether Iraq can emerge from its crucible of violence before the American public pushes in earnest for a troop withdrawal, and whether a drawdown in Iraq can occur before the all-volunteer military buckles under the weight of its global demands.

"If things turn out well in Iraq, he will be the man known for reforming the military and this building," said a senior military officer at the Pentagon. "If Iraq goes south, fair or not, he will go down as the man who bullied the military into an unpopular war."

and a perfect example of how this Administration thinks long term and understands where in he Government to make long term impacts,
Rumsfeld's much-publicized battles with the generals over the pace of Pentagon reform have largely died down, in part because Rumsfeld's long tenure has allowed him to promote officers who accept his vision of a lighter, leaner military. Unlike many of his predecessors, Rumsfeld devotes much of his time to scrutinizing the candidacies of one- and two-star generals and admirals for lower posts — an influence over the Pentagon's "farm system" that ensures a legacy at the Pentagon years after he is gone.
Churchill --I think-- has a quote along the lines of to see the future one needs to look far into the past.
During the surprise May 2004 trip to Baghdad after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Rumsfeld told the assembled troops that he had stopped reading newspapers and that on the plane to Iraq he instead passed the time reading a book about the Civil War to put the current struggles in context.

During last week's contentious hearings on Capitol Hill, amid flagging public support for the U.S. mission in Iraq, Rumsfeld drew parallels between the Iraq war and the dark days of America's Revolutionary War. He also quoted Abraham Lincoln telling Union soldiers, "I beg of you, as citizens of this great Republic, not to let your minds be carried off from the great work we have before us."

"That was good advice," Rumsfeld said.
And it helps to have a sense of humor:
Rumsfeld's prickly, often-abrasive style has at times rankled longtime U.S. allies.

He has taken a more diplomatic tack in recent months, even remarking during a European trip this year that it was "Old Rumsfeld" who made the infamous comments about "Old Europe" concerning French and German criticism of U.S. preparations for the 2003 war in Iraq.

Yet, he has little hesitation about barreling down paths where diplomats often fear to tread.

One recent target of Rumsfeld's verbal barbs has been Russia. The Defense secretary has criticized the Russian government for its close financial ties with Syria and for selling 100,000 AK-47 rifles to President Hugo Chavez's government in Venezuela.

The issues were expected to come up when Rumsfeld met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov last month in Brussels.

As the two men shook hands amid popping flashbulbs, video cameras and boom microphones, the smiling Ivanov fired the first shot.

"Mr. Rumsfeld, where is your Kalashnikov?" Ivanov asked.

Rumsfeld pretended to look inside the jacket of his dark flannel suit, looked back up at Ivanov, and shot back.

"I must have given it to Venezuela," he said, grinning.

The two men turned, walked into a conference room and shut the door.

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