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Howard A. Rodman Headshot

Hindenburg "not flying well enough or fast enough"

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The Rumsfeld memo hits with the force of revelation only if you were one of the three or four people who believed that the war was going well.

The New York Times says that the memo "acknowledges that the administration's strategy in Iraq was not working." Sadly, this acknowledgement is less an eruption of reality into the bubble than a means of reinforcing that bubble's walls.

Let's look at the way this "not going well enough or fast enough" meme has been trotted out:

"Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough." Donald Rumsfeld, November 6, 2006 memorandum.

"Iraq is not working well enough, fast enough." President George W. Bush, introducing Robert Gates, November 8, 2006.

"I will say this -- it is very clear that the major combat operations were an enormous success. It's clear that in Phase 2 of this, it has not been going well enough or fast enough." - Donald Rumsfeld, November 9, 2006, speech at Kansas State University.

"You know, nobody can be happy with the situation in Iraq right now. Everybody has been working hard. But what we have been doing has not worked well enough or fast enough.'' Joshua Bolten, to Wolf Blitzer, November 12, 2006.

"As the President said, things are not going well enough or fast enough." Stephen Hadley, aboard Air Force One, November 15, 2006.

Conditions in Iraq are "not getting better fast enough," but "the strategy for victory is working." Tony Snow, press briefing, December 1, 2006.

"[The President ] has said publicly what Rumsfeld said, that things are not proceeding well enough or fast enough in Iraq," Stephen Hadley, Face the Nation, December 3, 2006.

In light of the events of the past month, wouldn't Bush, Rumsfeld, Bolten, Hadley, Snow have been more accurate had they said that things in Iraq are going to hell, and in a handbasket, and going there with a great deal of speed?

The problem isn't that the US efforts have not worked well enough. They've succeeded wildly, if by success you mean taking a functioning society, bombing the shit out of it, decapitating its leadership, appropriating its natural resources, allowing its museums to be sacked, driving its professional classes into exile, fostering an almost unprecendented culture of corruption, launching large military operations against its cities, torturing its innocents, murdering its civilians, fanning the flames of ethnic and religious conflict, causing, directly or indirectly, the death of more than half a million people who otherwise would have been alive, and, in the process, reducing what had been a country to wild, Hobbesian anarchy.

The problem isn't that the US efforts have not worked fast enough. In a few short years those efforts have attained a level of savagery it might otherwise have taken a generation to achieve.

The occupation is the cause of the violence, not its antidote. At best, we are training armies to murder each other. At worst, we are ensuring that the cradle of civilization will neither cradle nor be civilized for decades to come

It is nice, one supposes, that the administration is now forced to admit that something is wrong. But it's not their progress that's at fault, but their aims. What Rumsfeld, Bolten, Hadley, Snow can't see, won't acknowledge, will never admit, is that if the war that our country is waging were going better, or faster, the Middle East entire would be engulfed in flames.

We may not have to wait all that long to find out.