Rumsfeld\'s world

Rumsfeld decides which gripes are legitimate:

WASHINGTON -- Donald Rumsfeld said he will look it up, but for now, he disagrees with calling the enemy in Iraq part of an "insurgency."

The U.S. defense secretary made that point to reporters at a Pentagon news conference Tuesday. He said he suddenly decided the enemy aren't actually insurgents.

Rumsfeld said he came to that conclusion over the Thanksgiving weekend. He said the enemy doesn't merit the word insurgency because they don't have a legitimate gripe.

But Rumsfeld acknowledged his point might not be supported by the standard definition of "insurgent." Webster's New World College Dictionary defines the term as "rising up against established authority."

In the meantime, Rumsfeld is offering this suggestion: "Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government."

[Italics mine]

In other news, one of Rumsfeld's subordinates finally grew a pair:

The nation's top military man, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, said American troops in Iraq have a duty to intercede and stop abuse of prisoners by Iraqi security personnel.

When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld contradicted Pace, the general stood firm.

Rumsfeld told the general he believed Pace meant to say the U.S. soldiers had to report the abuse, not stop it.

Pace stuck to his original statement.

"If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it," Pace told his civilian boss.

Besides the feeling that Rumsfeld likes having Iraqis tortured, he offered this justification: "Obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of."

I'll let your imagination run down that line. I'll just point out what a joke it is to call the new Iraq sovereign.

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“Obviously, the United

“Obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of"

Hmmm...Sounds like he's saying we shouldn't be the world's policeman, enagaging in nation building and "regime change"....


Just for the sake of

Just for the sake of complete accuracy, here's the actual transcript:

SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure. Yeah. No, I don't know. I don't know why. I've thought about it, and over the weekend, I thought to myself, "You know, that gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit." Why do you -- why would you call Zarqawi and his people insurgents against a legitimate Iraqi government with their own constitution? It just -- do they have broad popular support in that country? No.

You think of an -- I think of an insurgency slightly different. Maybe I'm wrong. I'll have to go to the dictionary.

Q (Off mike) -- bring that dictionary --

SEC. RUMSFELD: What was the word I used -- a long hard slog, and you went to the dictionary on me. Isn't that right, Jamie?

Q Right. And I forgot to bring it today.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. Well, I'll go look it up. It just -- it was an epiphany.

Q We'd be interested in following your thoughts on that.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe. These people don't have a legitimate gripe. They've got a peaceful way to change that government through the constitution, through the elections. These people aren't trying to promote something other than disorder and to take over that country and turn it into a caliphate, and then spread it around the world. This is a group of people who don't merit the word "insurgency," I think. But I'll look it up. You look it up for me, too. I'm sure you will.

I think the quibbling over semantics is pretty pointless (I've just been calling them "terrorists" but I don't think it matters enough to fuss over), but I don't see what's objectionable about what he said here. Randall, are you saying that the people setting off carbombs in public areas do have legitimate gripes?


Q Sir, taking on Charlie's question a bit -- and I can give you actual examples from coalition forces who talked to me when I was over there -- about excesses of the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Defense, and that is in dealing with prisoners or in arresting people and how they're treated after they're arrested. What are the obligations and what are the rights of the U.S. military over there in dealing with that? Obviously, Iraq is a sovereign country now, but the United States is responsible for training and expects to turn over the security mission to them. So what is the U.S. obligation in addressing that, preventing that? And what can we do? And what are we doing?

SEC. RUMSFELD: That's a fair question. I'll start, and Pete, you may want to finish. But we are working very hard to train and equip the Iraqi security forces. So is NATO. So are some neighboring countries. There are a lot of people involved in this and dozens of countries trying to help train these Iraqi forces.

Any instance of inhumane behavior is obviously worrisome and harmful to them when that occurs. Iraq knows of certain knowledge that they need the support of the international community, and a good way to lose it is to make a practice of something that's inconsistent with the values of the international community. And I think they know that.

Now, you know, I can't go any farther in talking about it. Obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of; however, we do have a responsibility to say so and to make sure that the training is proper and to work with the sovereign officials so that they understand the damage that can be done to them in the event some of these allegations prove to be true.

Q And General Pace, what guidance do you have for your military commanders over there as to what to do if -- like when General Horst found this Interior Ministry jail?

GEN. PACE: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it. As an example of how to do it if you don't see it happening but you're told about it is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago. There's a report from an Iraqi to a U.S. commander that there was possibility of inhumane treatment in a particular facility. That U.S. commander got together with his Iraqi counterparts. They went together to the facility, found what they found, reported it to the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi government has taken ownership of that problem and is investigating it. So they did exactly what they should have done.

SEC. RUMSFELD: But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it.

GEN. PACE: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.

The "sovereignty" remark is indeed loaded with irony, and I would say that Pace surely has the right of the disagreement here. But again, I'm puzzled that you would consider this a mindset that's somehow peculiar to Rumsfeld, given that many opponents of the Iraq war advocated exactly his position on a much larger scale.

I sure wish the good

I sure wish the good secretary would quite making McNamara noises. I'm old enought that it makes me nervous.

Not interfering militarily

Not interfering militarily with sovereign countries is my position. But in this case, it's just outsourcing our tortures to another guy in the same room and pretending we can't interfere with their sovereignty. That's a mindset limited to Rumsfeld and hopefully very few others.

Maybe I'm misremembering,

Maybe I'm misremembering, but wasn't humanitarian intervention the reason that we finally settled on for having invaded Iraq? So we invade the whole country to kick out the Ba'athists for torturing and murdering people but have to turn the other way when our newly-installed regime does the exact same thing that we kicked the other guys out for doing? Anyone else think that maybe the humanitarian intervention argument isn't meant all that seriously?

Joe, I think looking for


I think looking for seriousness in any reason given by the WH is folly.

Randall, Then you're just as


Then you're just as inconsistent as Rumsfeld is. You can either believe in sovereignty, in which case you're forced to admit that Rumsfeld's limp justification is correct, or you can say Pace is right and throw sovereignty out the window. Personally I think you'd do better with the latter option, since state sovereingty is a collectivist concept anyway. (This isn't about Iraq; it's entirely possible to take a dim view of the enterprise on other grounds than "sovereignty.")