Ah, Rummy. We’ve missed him. Really, we have. Nobody else in the Bush administration has his way with words. Current Defense Secretary Robert Gates can toss out a quote, sure, but he’s just not capable of mindbenders of his predecessor’s “unknown unknowns” variety.
So we were excited to see that the Washington Post had swiped a sampling of Rumsfeld’s daily missives to staff (known as “snowflakes” because of their frequency) during his last four years running the Pentagon.
Unfortunately, these B-sides don’t quite live up to his greatest hits. But here are a few choice cuts.
In a 2004 memo on the deteriorating situation in Iraq, he suggested that the bad vibes were all in our heads. Rumsfeld concluded that challenges were “not unusual” and said pessimistic news reports — “our publics risk falling prey to the argument that all is lost” – simply result from the wrong standards being applied.
In May 2004, he considered rebranding the war America was fighting, weighing whether to redefine terrorism as a “worldwide insurgency.” The goal of the enemy, he wrote, is to “end the state system, using terrorism, to drive non-radicals from the world.” He then instructed his aides to “test what the results would be” if the war on terrorism were renamed. Apparently, those tests weren’t so positive.
In the same memo, he complained that oil wealth had at times detached Muslims “from the reality of work, effort and investment that leads to wealth for the rest of the world. Too often Muslims are against physical labor, so they bring in Koreans and Pakistanis while their young people remain unemployed,” he wrote. “An unemployed population is easy to recruit to radicalism.”
Under siege in April 2006, when a series of retired generals denounced him and called for his resignation in newspaper op-ed pieces, he talked about the need to keep people scared. “Talk about Somalia, the Philippines, etc. Make the American people realize they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists.”
Many of the memos are the howls of a wounded man, individual pleas for rebuttals to reporters who wrote articles slamming him in his final months on the job. There’s pathos in this, as well as an admirable work ethic. Despite being the oldest defense secretary in history (he was also the youngest, having held the job once before), he produced 20-60 of these snowflakes a day. (MORE)