Sunday, December 03, 2006

Go, Fighting Minimalists!

Anarchomuslim followed up on my previous post and found a picture of those Santas doing the Nazi salute (which I now know is called a Hitler-Gruß). I dunno, it could be a “Today the Arctic Circle, tomorrow the world” thing, or he could be warning of plummeting poop from a flying reindeer.

Still, there is a worse idea than a goose-stepping Santa, and it’s coming to Broadway: Tony Danza is Max Bialystock in The Producers.

Still, if there was worse casting, it was Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of War (he might make a good Max Bialystock, though)(Colin Powell as Leo Bloom, maybe?). Before he was fired, Rummy wrote a memo (unclear if this was an attempt to save his job, give advice to a successor, or burnish his reputation in some way) suggesting various possible changes to his failed Iraq policy. Benchmarks, increased training & embedding, send troops to the Iranian and Syrian borders, yadda yadda yadda. There’s an odd mix of tactics which involve the US acting like pouty children, taking our toys and going home: “Initiate an approach where U.S. forces provide security only for those provinces or cities that openly request U.S. help and that actively cooperate, with the stipulation being that unless they cooperate fully, U.S. forces would leave their province” and tactics which treat the Iraqis like pouty children: “Stop rewarding bad behavior, as was done in Fallujah when they pushed in reconstruction funds”, “Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start ‘taking our hand off the bicycle seat’), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks” (or use bicycle clips, those are also useful).

There’s that old perennial, bribery: “Provide money to key political and religious leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period.” Finally, someone’s trying to learn from the master.

Speaking of learning from the master, here’s one from the Clinton playbook: “Initiate a massive program for unemployed youth. It would have to be run by U.S. forces, since no other organization could do it.” Yes, midnight basketball.

Finally, Rummy focuses on the really important thing: making the US not look like big ol’ losers: “Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis. This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not ‘lose.’ ... Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist.” Rummy, just go.

Actually, the document doesn’t look like what Bush calls “a plan for victory.” It’s not a coherent whole. You could implement every one of his suggestions and it wouldn’t stop Baghdad being a living hell (he specifically argues against sending in more troops to “attempt to control” Baghdad), wouldn’t stop death squad activity, etc.

At last, an exit strategy: a coin toss.

Must-read London Sunday Times article, “Death Squads Roam Baghdad’s Hospitals.” “The life of a human being was worth $600 and there were many people willing to kill patients for money.”

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