In public, Rumsfeld continues to hail the great progress in Afghanistan and Iraq. In private
"Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?" Rumsfeld asks in the Oct. 16 memo, which goes on to cite "mixed results" against al-Qaeda, "reasonable progress" tracking down top Iraqis and "somewhat slower progress" in apprehending Taliban leaders. "Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get'? " he wrote.
Among Rumsfeld's observations in the two-page memo:
• The United States is "just getting started" in fighting the Iraq-based terror group Ansar Al-Islam.
• The war is hugely expensive. "The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' cost of millions."
• Postwar stabilization efforts are very difficult. "It is pretty clear the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog."
This leaked memo suggests, above all else, that we are overwhelmed by the tasks before us. We gave the world a big middle finger and proceeded virtually alone to wage two seperate wars. The first was necessary, the second was not. And now, the magnitude of the task before us has finally sunk in.
And rather than focus and do one task well (win the war in Afghanistan and destroy the Taliban), we are trying to do three different tasks (Taliban, Al Qaeda, Iraq) and not doing a good job of it.
Melanie will have more on the mind-boggling Seymour Hersch article later this week, but one quick quote
By early March, 2002, a former White House official told me, it was understood by many in the White House that the President had decided, in his own mind, to go to war. The undeclared decision had a devastating impact on the continuing struggle against terrorism. The Bush Administration took many intelligence operations that had been aimed at Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world and redirected them to the Persian Gulf. Linguists and special operatives were abruptly reassigned, and several ongoing anti-terrorism intelligence programs were curtailed.
This administration had the chance to eradicate Al Qaeda and its Taliban benefactors after the initial Afghanistan victory, yet negligently pulled our assets from the hunt to go after an impotent Iraq.
This administration, rather than make us safer, has actually done a poor job in eliminating our real threats.
Not my assessment -- but Rummy's.