[Marxism] When thieves fall out

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 6 08:09:50 MDT 2006


Rumsfeld Challenges Rice on 'Tactical Errors' in Iraq

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 6, 2006; A21

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of 
State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the 
United States had made thousands of "tactical errors" in handling the war 
in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.

Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, 
Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war "errors" 
reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan 
for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact 
with the enemy.

"Why? Because the enemy's got a brain; the enemy watches what you do and 
then adjusts to that, so you have to constantly adjust and change your 
tactics, your techniques and your procedures," Rumsfeld told interviewer 
Scott Hennen, according to a Defense Department transcript. "If someone 
says, well, that's a tactical mistake, then I guess it's a lack of 
understanding, at least my understanding, of what warfare is about."

Rumsfeld's questioning of Rice's comment came amid long-standing tensions 
between their departments over the war in Iraq and other issues. Rumsfeld 
and the Pentagon have been criticized by members of Congress and even some 
retired generals for missteps in Iraq, such as failing to anticipate the 
insurgency.

On a trip to Britain, Rice told reporters Friday that "I know we've made 
tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure," but that the strategic 
decisions will be the ones historians judge.

When asked about the comment the next day, Rice said she "wasn't sitting 
around counting" U.S. tactical errors and instead meant her remark 
figuratively. "The point I was making . . . is that, of course, if you've 
ever made decisions, you've undoubtedly made mistakes in the decisions that 
you've made, but that the important thing is to get the big strategic 
decisions right and that I am confident that the decision to overthrow 
Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqi people an opportunity for peace and 
democracy is the right decision."

In the radio interview, Hennen said Rice had "figuratively suggested 
recently we've made thousands of tactical errors" and "also suggested that 
the important test was making the right strategic decisions and that would 
be the test of history."

Hennen asked Rumsfeld: "Do you agree with that? Have we made thousands of 
tactical errors? And does that concern you?"

Rumsfeld replied: "I don't know what she was talking about, to be perfectly 
honest."

Rumsfeld pointed to the nature of the Iraq war -- unpredictable from the 
start -- as the reason the United States has had to change tactics over the 
past three years.

"If you had a static situation and you made a mistake in how you addressed 
the static situation, that would be one thing," he said. "What you have 
here is not a static situation, you have a dynamic situation with an enemy 
that thinks, uses their brain, constantly adjusts, and therefore our 
commanders have to constantly make tactical adjustments."

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