Steve Clemons has a post up this morning on the Atlantic website suggesting that Obama invite Donald Rumsfeld onto his national security team. Clemons argues that Obama's recently announced national security strategy resembles Rumsfeld's early effort in the Bush administration
to transform a large footprint, Army-heavy, clunky, globally sprawling military machine into something that shed a lot of that weight -- and whose priorities, deployments, and budgets were driven by new factors rather than by some equation of inertia spiced up by safe, risk-averse incrementalism.
Clemons pays lip service to Rumsfeld's baggage, writing parenthetically and euphemistically:
despite the controversies over Rumsfeld's management style and some would argue his disregard for the legal framework for national security decisionmaking after 9/11
before going on to suggest that Rumsfeld's particular skill set in military transformation could prove beneficial to Obama's efforts to reorient military strategy in the era of Predator drones and growing Chinese dominance in the Asia Pacific.
More on the other side...
For example, he thinks Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has much to learn from Rumsfeld:
What Panetta could learn, and I mean this in a constructive way, from Donald Rumsfeld is the capacity to think and speak out loud about what forces might look like in a reconfigured Pentagon dealing with a very different terrain of conflict than the types of wars and conflict the Pentagon was organized to deal with during the last many decades.
My first reaction on seeing Clemons's headline was to gag, and that was followed quickly by a brief retch. Rumsfeld, of course, was a prime proponent of the Iraq War and fully bought into the neo-con regime-change push to a rejuvenated US imperialist presence in the Persian Gulf. It was on Rumsfeld's watch that the United States became a torture state, with US military officers directly involved in the implementation of torture programs at military facilities in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and Rumsfeld's Pentagon signing off on an interrogation doctrine that justified the use of tactics, such as waterboarding, that directly contravene US and international law.
Keep him away from the development of US military strategy, I said to myself. Better yet, put him in jail for his criminal culpability.
But, and there's always a but, I thought of statements like the following, that have begun to proliferate in public discourse over the days since Obama's announcement of a new strategy:
Unfortunately, the Administration’s framework for implementation fails to learn from the lessons of past, is a significant departure from the strategy embraced by previous administrations – both Republican and Democratic, and fails to acknowledge the perilous global security environment, which may be the most dangerous we have witnessed in a generation.
That, of course is a bald-faced lie -- Obama's military strategy in fact continues naturally from the one pursued during the final years of the Bush Administration, and was designed by many of the same people who served on Bush's national security team -- but it comes not from a mouth-breathing redstate blogger, but from Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), the current Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
GOP presidential candidates have seized on the "Obama is weak, and the new strategy proves it" meme, and Obama could use an effective communications strategy to push back against them. Signing up Rumsfeld in my view goes way too far, but some kind of bold step demonstrating the actual bipartisan nature of the strategy might not be a bad idea.
We know the modern GOP has become an extremist organization, but the average American -- blinded by the soft reporting of the mainstream media -- hasn't yet clued in. They've painted themselves into a corner with tax policy, and they're about to do the same with military strategy. It's time to throw them an anvil.