A Baghdad Too Far
There wires and the talking heads are humming today with analysis of the Rumsfeld firing (I'm sorry, the "resignation") and what it means for Robert Gates to step in. I'm currently watching a CNN piece interviewing at least half a dozen former Generals who called for Rumsfeld's resignation, and the piece is so well-prepared it must have been wrapped by last night. For those of you who don't know Robert Gates, here's a short intro.
More than any other single individual at CIA, where he later became Director, Bob Gates was most responsible for missing the coming fall of the Soviet Union. He did everything he could, in fact, to make the Soviet Union look stronger than it was, and actively suppressed reports of its demise for domestic political purposes. (For winning votes and pumping up Defense funding. A look at the CIA's own World Fact Book through the early 80's will show a number of years of negative economic growth data for the USSR.)
Gates is a Bush Family Insider, with a history of politicizing intelligence. No really effective person would take the SecDef job at this point (say, Wes Clark) because of the thankless task it represents, so it went to a loyal insider. All you can expect from Bob Gates is continuing the Bull Shit with a bunch of lying, evasion, parsing, and writhing in front of Congress and cameras. Par for the course, but it could be worse.
The best thing about his appointment is this: it indicates Bush the Elder (who has long been Gates's benefactor) is bailing Dubya out of his biggest mess yet, and that Jim Baker's upcoming Iraq report will hit harder and have more immediate effect than almost everyone has thought it could. In practical terms, Syria and Turkey will have to be bought off with oil revenues and security. The Kurds will be supplied with US weapons and training to balance Iran and the Shiites in Iraq. And Iran will have to be put up with, embraced and kept close, so it can be undermined gradually. In terms of the Great Game, this means the US will follow a policy of stalemate and containment in the Mid-East versus Russia and China, and this is what should've been followed in the first place. The Cheney/Rumsfeld "Leapfrog and Oil Lock-Up" Plan was audacious, but had little chance of working because of reckless naivete. It was A Baghdad Too Far.
I would give a lot to be one of the flies buzzing around Dick Cheney today, because then I could confirm to what extent the Rumsfeld resignation is a flat-out palace coup. But I can't do that, and the above paragraph is just guesswork, and the opinions there are mine alone. I bet you won't see Dick Cheney in front of any cameras today, and that will tend to confirm the guesswork. And it's still not too late for him to take my advice about the shotgun.