I am totally dismayed to see that Governor Perry chose Donald Rumsfeld and several of his neoconservative disciples to advise him on foreign affairs. Rumsfeld was the worst secretary of defense in American history. He couldn’t even manage to put armor on humvees. How many young lives did he snuff out? The neocons have been wholly discredited. It’s not hard to see why Perry likes them. The neocons believe in utilizing America’s military might to extend American power, and Perry loves the exercise of power.
I don’t know whether, what, or how much Perry reads, but there are plenty of good books about how the Bush administration in general and Rumsfeld in particular bungled the war in Iraq and allowed the insurgency to flourish. Bush will carry the stain of the war to his grave and into the history books. Believe me, I’m no anti-war hand-wringer. When it comes to issues of war and peace, I’m a realist, not an idealist. What concerns me about Perry’s playing footsie with the neocons is that he is following his instinct to make policy based on ideology instead of acquiring knowledge about the mistakes of the past. And a failed ideology at that.
There is a wealth of great reading material on the war in Iraq: Fiasco, by Thomas E. Ricks; Cobra II, by Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor; and the “Bush at War” series by Bob Woodward. These books are rich in lessons about the arrogance of power and the propensity to overestimate the importance of military power. Perry should read them, if he hasn’t already done so. Then he should remove Rumsfeld’s number from his cell phone contact list.
[From a review of Cobra II:
The bulk of the book is taken up with a near-comprehensive blow-by-blow account of the fighting that occurred over four weeks in March and April 2003. But while these chapters shed new light on several important facets of the war, and demonstrate how realities on the ground did not match Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s theories of military transformation, the book’s beginning and ending sections are the most valuable. Here the authors explain how the administration of President George W. Bush drove the nation to war in Iraq, and how decisions made before the invasion and immediately following Mr. Hussein’s ouster precipitated the vicious insurgency now wracking that country.]
Perry’s decision to embrace Rumsfeld and his disciples as his mentors in diplomatic and military affairs calls into question his judgment, his knowledge of history, and his fitness to lead American troops into harm’s way. Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them.
[The article on which this post is based appeared in the Dallas Morning News, but I am unable to link to it.]