As our thoughts turn to the results of the US congressional
mid-terms, we should spare a thought for one of the unfortunate
causalities of this political skirmish. It seems the first
person to be sidelined as “collateral damage” is Donald Rumsfeld
who resigned to leave his protégé, George W. Bush to hold the
Rummy is spoken of as a ‘good ole boy’. A “patriot” according to
George W Bush. A defender of all things American. Well most
things American. Well a few things American. Actually, nothing
really American as such but more like a defender of good ole
fashioned capitalist enterprise and number one - himself.
You see, going into Iraq was for Rummy, a rather cathartic
experience. He and his fellow “hawks” in the White House, had
their hearts set on giving Saddam a bit of ‘what for’ ever since
George the Shrub’s dad decided that his oil interests in the
region were safe and pulled out the troops.
Back then it was a slap in the face for Rummy who had, only some
six or seven years earlier been shaking hands with Saddam and
whispering sweet nothings in his ear. Saddam was supposed to
reciprocate and open up his country to the exploitation of the
US multinationals. However, Saddam got cold feet.
Well, actually, he didn’t get cold feet. Rather, he began to
listen to those who told him the wealth was far greater than
that which the US was willing to pay. So, as any good business
man does, he began to look around for others who might offer him
a better deal. The Russians, the French, the Germans and even
the British, who has made a hasty retreat some 40 years earlier,
Gaining the interest of other potential bidders spurred Saddam
on to reconsider the US deal and he eventually got back to his
American suitors and wanted to renegotiate it. There was uproar.
The ‘friend’ of the US was now turning into the ‘enemy’ of the
US. A ‘dictator’ was “outed” and new ground rules spelled out in
no uncertain terms. The US, while allowing a tyrant to dictate
to others would brook no back-chat from any one, let alone a tin
pot, cigar smoking, Arab tyrant they had invested a lot of money
in so their interests were protected.
So, with Rummy mincing about in the background, not quite being
in the inner circle of Bush the First’s clique, the US decided
that a little country many of us had never heard of, with a name
we weren’t sure of, in a place we didn’t know, was going to be,
literally, the beach head for it’s attack against the “butcher
of Baghdad”. And, so it was, with CNN cameras to capture the
action the US troops stormed ashore, hero’s before the first
bodies had their lives removed.
The neo-cons, including the current Vice President, Dick Chenney,
were beside themselves with glee. This was their moment to
retrieve the pride from the ignominy that was the withdrawal
from Vietnam some 20 years prior and the chance for the US to
declare the cold war won and they the victors. Unfortunately for
them, George Senior had other ideas.
The Bush family investments in the region lay just off the coast
in the oil terminals that kept the tankers fed with Iraqi oil.
Bush Senior realised that if he allowed the troops to storm all
the way to Baghdad that the oil might dry up completely. His
terminals were fed from the northern and eastern oil fields and
the pipes that delivered the oil were vulnerable. In short, he
needed Saddam in power to hold the various, potentially warring
factions at bay so the crude could keep flowing. So he took the
only option open, made a bold business decision and pulled out
of Iraq once he was sure Saddam realised that if he wanted to
continue in the lifestyle to which he had become accustomed,
then he should reconsider his options.
Saddam didn’t like this and thought the Americans were part
crazy and part bluff. However, the international sanctions that
were subsequently imposed began to hurt the Iraqi people. While
Saddam was quite free to wheel and deal in oil for food, his
people began to suffer. Again the practicalities of wealth
demanded that so long as the oil kept flowing out, and Saddam
kept a lid on the potential revolt of his suffering people for
as long as possible, the US would not act against him.
However, Saddam, like any other dictator, had a breaking point
and by the late 1990’s was attempting to establish deals with,
again, the Russians, the French and the Germans. While not ready
to give away the wealth of his country, it would seem he was
ready to do deals just to stop the devastation of the sanctions.
When the 2000 US elections rolled around and Rummy and his mates
found themselves in the driving seat, they saw their chance to
act. With George W as their ventriloquist’s dummy, the neo-cons
enacted their plans.
Their “Project for a New American Century”, concocted in the
back alleys of the White House by such notables as Paul
Wolfowitz, Dick Chenney, Richard Perle, William Crystal, Jeb
Bush and Donald Rumsfeld was rolled into action. Three years
later the ‘victors’, no doubt, held a quite little party
somewhere to celebrate their win. Now, three years after that
little shindig, Rummy, following Perle’s lead, has jumped ship
leaving behind him a right royal mess for someone else to clean
In doing so, Rummy has shown his true colours. He is no patriot,
no good ole American boy and certainly no defender of the US.
Like so many of the administration and I guess all of us, he is
interested firstly in himself and ensuring his own comfort and
pleasure then trying to ensure these two things are not upset
but such inconveniences as, say, indictment by a now potentially
hostile Senate. Like Ken Lay of Enron infamy, Rummy will defend
his actions all the way to the grave.
In the three years since Rumsfeld’s great adventure in Iraq
began as many coalition soldiers have been killed as those who
died in the fall of the twin towers and up to four times as many
will forever carry the scars. Tens of thousands of Iraqi’s have
been killed, maimed or rendered incapacitated. Thousands of men
and women have been incarcerated and hundreds tortured all while
Rumsfeld derided anyone who questioned his determination as
“Henny Penny’s” to whom the sky was forever falling.
What we now know of Rumsfeld is that he is the real chicken. No
doubt, and as the US President has already said, Rumsfeld will
be hailed by the neo-cons as a hero and history will be
rewritten to cast him as a ‘visionary’ and ‘master strategist’.
However, for the thousands who actually took part in the battles
and skirmishes, he will forever remain a twisted and bitter old
man for whom “collateral damage” was term used only on the
innocent victims of war and never those who directed it.