Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers testified about the war before the House and Senate today; here’s coverage from the Washington Post and a slightly different emphasis from the State Department’s Office of International Information Programs.
Amazingly, both Rumsfeld and Myers still appear to believe there’s a chance that the whole mess will go away when various groups within Iraq come to their senses and welcome us with open arms. The only reason that hasn’t happened already, according to Myers, is that those darned “death squads” (the new, favored term for the Fedayeen, apparently) are forcing Iraqi civilians to fight, “when they would much rather give up.”
Speaking to reporters on the way into the Senate hearing, Myers even seemed to hold out hope that the Republican Guard might still just simply surrender of their own accord: “There is still time for the members of the Republican Guard, their leadership, to do the right thing and … honorable thing … lay down their arms and be on the right side of this inevitable victory by the coalition.”
News flash for General Myers: You’ve tried this already. It didn’t work. At this point, floating more offers to whatever officer you hope will turn against Saddam and cut a deal with us just feeds into the perception, apparently widespread on their side, that we don’t have the stomach for a real fight.
For his part, Rumsfeld waved away the inconvenient fact that large-scale defections to our side haven’t happened even in Basra, the largely Shiite hotbed of anti-Saddam sentiment. He now predicts that the Shiites of Baghdad will rise up to help us overthrow Saddam. All in all, the “subduing” of Baghdad sounds like it’s going to be remarkably straightforward, at least the way Rumsfeld described it. Though he acknowledged that “it could take some time.”
Rumsfeld also dismissed Red Cross warnings of an impending humanitarian crisis in Basra, where the main water treatment facility has been out of service for nearly a week. From the State Department story: “While acknowledging that there are places in Iraq where water is not flowing properly, Rumsfeld said there is no intelligence coming in to suggest there is a humanitarian crisis at hand or that shortages have reached critical proportions.” I wonder how long Rumsfeld thinks it takes for a city of one million without adequate drinking water to reach a state of crisis.
Anyway, it’s nice to hear that everything is going so well with the war. Or it would be nice, if any of it were credible.