Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rumsfeld's U-Turn?

The section in italics below is an extract from today's London Observer.

If the leaked Rumsfeld memo came as a shock to the White House, the clear inference that President Bush may actually be calling the shots on US policy will bewilder all those who have long believed him to be merely a glove puppet. A new theory will have to be developed quickly, but this should pose no problem to those who always know what's going on.

The Observer, Sunday 3rd Dec.

In a move that will send shockwaves through the White House a leaked memo from former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in which he admitted American failings in Iraq and called for a major change in policy, emerged yesterday.

The classified memo, obtained by the New York Times, revealed that the ultra-hawkish Rumsfeld believes that US forces in Iraq are not achieving their aims. He submitted the memo to the White House just two days before he resigned his post at the Pentagon.

In the memo Rumsfeld calls for a major change in US actions in Iraq. 'In my view it is time for a major adjustment,' he writes. 'Clearly, what US forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.'

Some of his ideas - such as troop reductions and the criticism of tactics for Baghdad - seem to fly directly in the face of both his public statements of policy and the advice of the US military. In fact, his proposals often seem to have more in common with the thoughts of some Democratic party critics of the war.

Rumsfeld's call for change will disturb White House officials on two levels. First, in public Rumsfeld has always been a strong advocate of the US commitment to Iraq and of staying the course. Second, it flies in the face of recent statements by President Bush that indicate he is unlikely to change strategy. That could mean Rumsfeld and Bush, formerly seen as close allies, are in fact starting to oppose each other.

Yesterday, news reports showed that few expect Bush to order dramatic changes in US policy even as Washington awaits the arrival of a policy report on Iraq. This week the Iraq Study Group, led by Bush family friend James Baker, will present its suggestions on how to end the war. The report has been widely leaked and is expected to contain a framework for a gradual withdrawal of US combat troops over a period of a year or more.

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