H.R. Haldeman on Donald Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld on Woodward and Ricks, and Ricks on where Rummy went wrong
- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
So in my research on the Vietnam War I was paging through H.R. Haldeman’s diaries to see what he says about General Creighton Abrams and was surprised to come across his comment about a former defense secretary we all know: "typical Rumsfeld, rather slimy maneuver." (657)
Pot calling the kettle, I know. It did make me ponder, for a moment, why it was that Rumsfeld was the senior member of the Nixon administration to enjoy the longest public career.
Meanwhile, I see where Mr. Rumsfeld just told an interviewer that he never read the books by Bob Woodward or me about the Iraq war. "Neither one of them were involved at all," Rumsfeld said. "They were all on the outside listening to people two or three levels down. No, I’ve not read their books."
Rumsfeld is indeed correct about whom I was listening to — and I am glad I was. In retrospect, I have come to see my book Fiasco as reflective of the views of many brigade and battalion commanders, and a couple of thoughtful division commanders, who indeed were several echelons below Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I think they also had a much better understanding of what was going on in Iraq than he did, and they were angry and frustrated, which is why Fiasco amounted to an indictment of the top generals and the civilian overseers of the military in the Pentagon, the White House, and the Congress. How often did Rumsfeld’s undersecretary for policy, Douglas Feith, go to Iraq? Anyone know? I can’t remember him going more than once or twice.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |