Dada Rumsfeld: Absurd Words From Washington’s Highest-Profile Loser
Rumsfeld had plenty of warning.
On Feb. 25, 2003, Army Chief of Staff General Erik Shinseki told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “I would say that what’s been mobilized to this point—something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers—are probably, you know, a figure that would be required.”
“Several hundred thousand” meant somewhere around 400,000.
A Rand Corp. study came up with roughly the same number. Powell questioned the paucity of troops.
Shinseki was replaced and all those who questioned the strategy were contemptuously blown off by Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. Instead of the recommended 400,000 ground troops, the military was forced to make a dagger thrust to Baghdad on the cheap with one-third that number—a virtual skeleton force. “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators,” Vice President Cheney boasted to Tim Russert on “Meet the Press.”
Rather than fight, the Iraqi army melted into the countryside with their weapons and awaited developments. Within days of the allies taking Baghdad, widespread looting went unchecked. The skeleton coalition force was powerless to stop it, and the Iraqis immediately saw that the invaders were a paper tiger.
“Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things,” Rumsfeld told a press conference. “They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that’s what’s going to happen here.”
This error was exacerbated by the American decision to disband the Iraqi army and police that served under Saddam Hussein. These fierce, proud and highly trained men who had been in power were suddenly out of work and out on the street.
They became the insurgents—snipers, criminal assassins, kidnappers, death squads, murderers, demolition experts and members of private militias. They joined with al-Qaeda to welcome and train angry Muslim extremists pouring across the borders looking for martyrdom. So far 21,976 American servicemen and women have been killed and wounded. In addition, an average of 100 Iraqi civilians a week are being killed—innocent men, women and children from the tiniest babies to the most elderly.