Saturday, March 29, 2003

Has Seymour Hersh landed the big one? The veteran investigative reporter's recent New Yorker piece on Richard Perle began a chain of events that led to Perle's resignation as chairman of the Defense Policy Board. (Slate's Jack Shafer has a good summary, including Perle's sleazy labeling of Hersh as a "terrorist.")

Now Drudge is linking to a Reuters report that next week's New Yorker will include a Hersh bombshell: that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld consistently rejected requests for more troops in Iraq. One of Hersh's sources is quoted as saying, "They've got no resources. He [Rumsfeld] was so intent on proving his point -- that the Iraqis were going to fall apart."

Rumsfeld seems like so much a part of the post-9/11 landscape that it's easy to forget that, before the terrorist attacks, his demise was so widely assumed that Slate actually ran a regular feature called the "Rummy Death Watch." (Here's one from September 7, 2001, just before everything changed.)

As is clear from Bob Woodward's book, Bush at War, Rumsfeld has absolutely infuriated the generals with his insistence on smaller, lighter, and more flexible fighting forces -- something that sounds good in theory, but in practice has put our fighting men and women at unnecessary risk.

We shouldn't have gone in there in the first place -- not without the sort of real international support that would have come by setting disarmament milestones for Iraq that it would have had to meet. But having gone in, it is reprehensible to risk American lives unnecessarily.

Sometime after this war has been won, and everyone -- Americans, Brits, and Iraqis -- starts to recover from this misbegotten adventure, I'm sure we can look forward to Rumsfeld's finally deciding to spend more time with his family. And Paul Wolfowitz makes three.

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