October 22, 2003

Dear Sec. Rumsfeld, Regarding Your Memo on The War

The stork brought me your memo on the Global War on Terrorism this morning. I don't know why but it seems that everyone in America received a copy of it -- either from the stork or cranked out on some illegal mimeograph machine and stuffed into the morning paper with a note attached that read "Courtesy of Bill and Hill, 2004. Smooches and Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow."

I don't know why those working for you can't seem to zip it up when they get around a member of the press. I guess they've decided that if Loose Lips Sink Ships, that's the Navy's issue. Of course, when it comes to living in a free society, I'm proud that the media can play the role of shill for our enemies and the Democratic Party. After all, they're "just doing their job," right? Right.

At any rate, here are my thoughts on your stemwinder. I know your didn't ask me but, given the 'Let's Discuss' tone of your ruminations it is clear that you need some feedback. And, as always, I'm prepared to give it to you.

The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?
Don, Don, Don.... How many times do we have to go over this? You've got to get a name for this thing that doesn't echo Jimmy Carter promising a war on thermostats, Ronald Reagan promising a war on drugs, or Bill Clinton promising a war on Ken Starr. Cut the mush and give it a handle that means something more than America trying to Johnny Mop its way into Utopia.

If you are unsure about what a war looks like, take a tour of the Holocaust Museum over lunch and report back. If you can't do better than a phrase that was done to death in the 1980s, pick up the phone and speed dial Aaron Sorkin. He's currently between rehabs and may want to pitch in if you promise him an all-expense paid weekend in Bogota.

Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment?
Change? Fast? The DOD? Better put them all on that plane for that weekend in Bogota. That commissary coffee just isn't cutting it. Consider stocking it with cans of Starbucks's Double Shot.

Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?
No and no. Why? Screen "The Crying Game" and pay attention to the story at the beginning about the scorpion and the frog. Got it? Good.

DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces.
How many times must I remind you? Don't believe everything you read in the New York Times, no matter what services Maureen Dowd may have promised you in that Hamptons hot tub. Look where it got Howell Raines.

Hear us now or hear us later: The DOD "has been organized, trained, and equipped" to only fight wars that involve us in casualty rates that do not exceed single digits in one week. It believes to the marrow of its money-grubbing epaulettes that "the American Public will not tolerate significant losses in a war." This is because DOD believes everything it reads in the New York Times. So if you are looking for places to cut expenditures at DOD.... Well, we'll say no more.

It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.
Emphasis ours, but only to point out that you cannot keep running over to the Coast Guard's evidence vaults and stuffing Tommy Chong's Bongs with whatever bales of herbal remedies they fished out of the drink near Key West last week.

Remember, just because the entire population of the United States is one drink and one joint behind, that doesn't mean we want our Secretary of Defense

catching up. Okay?

Instead, why don't you get the President to sign about 20 "You're Fired Effective Yesterday" letters with the names left blank? Use five and let it be known that you've got 15 more. You don't need another Federal agency, you need the agencies you've got to fish, cut bait, or "Say hello to your little friend."

We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them — nonetheless, a great many remain at large.
Well, American liberals with nothing better to do are having mixed results with American cigarette smokers, but that doesn't stop them. If we can declare a beach in California off-limits to cigs and open an Indian casino on the moon, you can set up a live demo of a 5-Kiloton nuclear warhead out on Highway 61. Just put some bleachers out in the sun and invite the current despots of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and their pals. Haul in a Phil Ochs impersonator and finish the day with a rousing chorus of "There But For Fortune, Go You.... It's all about their limited attention spans, Don. Trust me on this one.

USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis.
It's not about the lesser 54, sir. It is all about The Ace of Spades and you know it. "Reasonable" doesn't enter into it. "Reasonable" is the word corporate lawyers use in front of "settlement," when they are about to screw you out of what you need the most. And The Ace of Spades is what you need the most, right now... unless you are holding him up your sleeve for October, 2004.

USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban — Omar, Hekmatyar, etc.
Slower? Slower? I think the word you are searching for here is "Glacial." The search for the Holy Grail is fairly zipping along compared to the hovel-to-hovel spoon counting expedition in Afghanistan. Better add a few Afghan warlords to that Live Demo of Small Nuke referenced above. They'll cough up Omar, his buddies and a large herd of gravid goats by noon the next day. Depend on it.

With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started.
Ahem, we can do without the smaller items on your Outlook To-Do list, thank you.

Have we fashioned the right mix of rewards, amnesty, protection and confidence in the US?
The "right mix" in that sentence would include "Fear," "Threat," "Invasion," "1st Airborne" and "Live Nuke Demo." We note for the record that when you "write for the record" (BTW, exactly who did leak this? Any thoughts?), you seem to leave out the military options that you ostensibly control. Time to check your job description.

Does DoD need to think through new ways to organize, train, equip and focus to deal with the global war on terror?
A reasonable member of the human race under the age of 35 would point you straight to the Homer Simpson D'oh Files when confronted with this item. But because we are more respectful and have also written dinosaur coprolites ourselves, we shall note you are "Begging the Question" and move on.
Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental? My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?
Your "impression" is correct, Professor. Bold is for Heroes and you are surrounded by satraps and mandarins from the shallow end of the warrior gene pool. More like that religious general from last week is probably a good staffing direction. If some General walks by your office and you notice he's wearing a pair of pearl-handled revolvers, you might want to take his business card and get back to him on the war.

You see, you've got Sensible and Logical at war with Fascist and Fanatical. This is not a plan for victory. It is a plan for a major CYA offensive for the CIA, FBI, DEA, and JCS. Those signed Presidential letters are your friend. Better run up a ream while you're at it.

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?
"Lack metrics?" "Lack METRICS?!" Sir, the country once got excited about metrics for two nanoseconds back in the 1970s, and then saw them for the Weasel Measures that they are. Stick with the inch, the foot, and don't spare the English rod. Please don't go French on us in our hour of need.

As to your question, the answers are, in order: No, non, nyet, nope. Next question.

Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?
Look at it this way, it is a slam-dunk certainty that the next generation of terrorists is fashioning a broad, integrated plan to stop the US... dead. I refer you to your own intelligence sources regarding Iran and North Korea for starters. If that doesn't satisfy, get Condi to brief you. Better yet spend a few hours of quality time with Charles Johnson and sources over at LGF. Instead of the billions in funding for the CIA, Charles only asks you to hit the Donation button every now and then. You could probably expense it.

The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.
Thank you for that refresher in costs of government versus costs of terror. We'd missed that because we haven't been reading the New York Times. Can we borrow your copy? Better yet, here's a different question. Assume we fail to stop the Islamic bomb. If one gets through and fries, say, Los Angeles to a crisp, how much does would it cost to rebuild LA? Spare me the "Who cares?' cheap shot. Assume that nobody is left to file class-action suits against everybody else left alive in the United States, only because there's not enough money on the planet.

Do we need a new organization?
Look, we know that you and the administration are trying hard not to use the [D.R.A.F.T.] word until after November, 2004, but this nudge-nudge wink-wink is getting tiresome.

How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools?
Here. Here. Here. And Here. I shouldn't have to tell you this.

Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?
No, our current situation is that the harder we work at having meetings to consider folksy bromides, the less time we have to get ahead. Please remember that any philosophy that can fit on a t-shirt belongs on a t-shirt. Your'e a smart guy. Can the corn and get on with it.

It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.
Jesus wept. It's one thing to leak a memo to the New York Times, it is quite another to write their headline ("War a "Long, Hard Slog") for them. Again, don't be taken in by Maureen Dowd's whispered promises or her online or book jacket photos. She ain't that cute. Neither is Pinch.

Does CIA need a new finding?
Seeing that it seems to be the case that the CIA has gone missing, you'd better find it and soon. While you're at it, hire this man and put him in charge. He really knows how to fight a war in the shadows.

Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madradssas to a more moderate course?
They already have a private foundation. It's called Saudi Arabia.

What else should we be considering?
Well, it you are going to continue to hold meetings with silly agendas such as this, we should be considering poking our pupils out with sharp instruments, setting our hair on fire and running from the room screaming, "I got the fear! I got the fear!"

Until then, you only need to remember two phrases:
1. "Let's roll.'
2. "Faster, please."

These can be concantated into one brief policy statement: "Enough of this shilly-shallying."

Posted by Vanderleun at October 22, 2003 10:22 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

What a great fisk! And while I agree with most the points made, I am still comforted to know that Rumsfeld is not the blood-thirsty warmonger the press makes him out to be. I was certain that was the case and now my faith has been confirmed.

Posted by: Rod at October 22, 2003 12:20 PM