Don Rumsfeld, believe it or not, is back. And though I haven't read Rumsfeld's Rules, (available in paperback soon!), I'm pretty sure he hasn't changed a bit. Which is something that I think it's fair to say is true of most people who worked at high levels for George W. Bush. As far as they're concerned, they were right all along, about everything. Rumsfeld thinks President Obama is going about this Syria thing all wrong, about which he could well be right, but how can anybody hear him offer opinions about that sort of thing and not remind themselves that he bore as much responsibility as anyone for what was probably the single greatest foreign-policy screw-up in American history?
Anyhow, the real reason I mention Rummy is that Errol Morris has a new documentary about him coming out soon called The Unknown Known. Like Morris' The Fog of War, his film on Robert McNamara, it's basically a long interview with Rumsfeld. But unlike McNamara, Rumsfeld has no regrets. Watch this preview all the way to the end:
"Not an obsession. A very measured, nuanced approach."
To me, that self-satisfied smile Rumsfeld gives at the end says, You can try all day, buddy, but I'm never going to say we were wrong. Give me your best shot. Rumsfeld seems to be treating the interview like a game, which in some sense it is. It might seem odd that Rumsfeld would agree to participate in the film, but he has no small amount of self-regard. He no doubt believed that no matter what Morris asked him, he'd be able to give the answer he wanted and not get trapped into saying something embarrassing. In the end, he'd be victorious. Just like he was in Iraq, right?
But the fact that he can describe the administration's beliefs about Iraq as "Not an obsession. A very measured, nuanced approach" is quite something. You'd expect at least an acknowledgement that things didn't work out quite as they had hoped. This is, after all, the man who said about phantom WMDs, "We know where they are," and who predicted about the war, "It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months" (another time he said, "Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that").
The propaganda war over Iraq never ends, I guess. Maybe the bigger the mistake you make, the more you need to convince yourself and others that it was never really a mistake to begin with.
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