Friday, September 22, 2006



It was US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who ignored the advice of some of the greatest military minds in America and Europe when it came to planning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It was Rumsfeld who decided that air bombing and special forces could do the job instead of the full-blown US Army deployment of more than 300,000-400,000 soldiers he was continually told would be needed to fight the war and take care of the aftermath..

And the 'Rumsfeld Doctrine' worked in Afghanistan in October-November, 2001. For a while.

But the Bush White House all but bailed on the struggling Afghan democracy to concentrate on the 'prize' of this brewing 'New American Century' : Iraq.

It's easily forgotten now that Rumsfeld had to fight some of the highest ranking officers of the US military to get his way, and at least half a dozen colonels quit the Army in protest at Rumsfeld's plans for the 'War On 'Iraq', and his lack of any plan at all for what would follow the invasion.

Rumsfeld initially wanted less than 50,000 soldiers on the ground in Iraq. Most of the military said the job couldn't be done right with less than 400,000.

It's also easily forgotten that part of what is now known as the 'Rumsfeld Doctrine' - less boots on the ground, ramping up the military high-tech, more bombs from the sky - was, or is, to eventually include the use of armed robots and unarmed planes loaded up with machine guns and Hellfire missiles.

Bizarrely, Rumsfeld envisioned a day not too far away when robots on the ground and in the sky would do the job of most soldiers, and he foresaw cutting back not only the number of serving soldiers, but the ranks of the Army reserves as well.

Military bases began to close in 2003 and plans were drawn up to 'down-volume' the numbers of serving US Army soldiers. Less troops, less expenses, more air bombing, more robots. But this was all when the Iraq War was still deemed to be a fast and great victory.

By the end of 2004, with the Iraq insurgency roaring into life, and new Taliban troubles brewing in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld's Doctrine was being stuffed into the bottom drawer, where it now mostly lies forgotten.

From the :
This month's devastating wave of suicide attacks in Afghanistan (including three attacks on Monday, which brought the total number to 69 since 2005) is a grim reminder that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, under fire for his role in Iraq, has been the architect of not one but two failing wars - and of a dangerous vision for how to apply American power.

August 2002 was Afghanistan's "Mission Accomplished" moment. Mr. Rumsfeld declared the military effort "a breathtaking accomplishment" and "a successful model of what could happen to Iraq." America had routed the Taliban, disrupted Al Qaeda, and set Afghanistan on a course for stability and democracy - and it had done it Rumsfeld's way, at little cost and with minimal loss of life.

But in reality, the mission was never accomplished. Five years after Sept. 11, America's efforts in Afghanistan, as in Iraq, are unraveling. The country's government remains weak and corrupt, and it faces daunting obstacles: dismal development indicators, an entrenched opium industry, and a reinvigorated insurgency.

The Rumsfeld doctrine, in military terms, stresses reliance on high technology and air power and downplays large ground forces. Its corollaries are that America operates best when unencumbered by international institutions, that state-building is a distraction, and that force can accomplish political objectives with few long-term repercussions.

Afghanistan was the laboratory for this new notion of warfare and national power. Rumsfeld's Pentagon wanted to demonstrate that small groups of ground forces combined with overwhelming air power could win wars - in theory, a useful approach because it limits American casualties and costs.

The doctrine's failures in Iraq are well documented. But its shortcomings in Afghanistan have received less attention because the unraveling has occurred in slow motion and with scant media attention.

Washington marginalized international institutions (over Afghanistan) and long insisted that the ad hoc peacekeeping force be limited to Kabul.

It subcontracted security to mujahideen in the provinces. It fought a narrowly conceived war against the Taliban that combined airstrikes and civilian detentions, neither sufficiently precise and each arousing deep resentment.

It bypassed the United Nations to divide responsibility for rebuilding the Afghan state among a handful of Western countries - a messy and costly endeavor made more difficult by the absence of authoritative coordination.

The result has been a steady unraveling in Afghanistan, as in Iraq. These are, to be sure, the president's wars, but they were fought under Rumsfeld's strategy.

Each was predicated on unrealistic notions of what could be achieved by force, and each dismissed the importance of international legitimacy. Afghanistan is not yet lost, but what once required several ounces of prevention now requires a pound of cure.

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Top NATO Commander Says Military Can't Rebuild Afghanistan Alone

Military Families Call For Rumsfeld To Resign