The Best Defense

General denounces president's Libyan intervention, says White House must be asked to clearly state the political goal

"Colonel Khaddafi is a madman. There is no way of predicting his behavior. What is the political goal ...To provoke him into something?...

"Now, I'm not saying we should back away from doing something when resolute action is called for. I am saying that, between the generals and the politicians -- and the generals need to be the foremost spokesmen for this -- when the president or secdef says, 'Let's send a force to do this, that, and the other thing,' some general needs to ask, 'What is your political goal?' In my opinion, the belligerent posturing of this administration has created turmoil in parts of the world where there need not be turmoil today. Eventually, if they keep it up, it's going to get us in trouble."

--Army Gen. (Ret.) Donn Starry, February 1986, on President Reagan's intervention in Libya. (P. 1097, oral history interview, in Press On! Selected Works of General Donn A. Starry, Vol. 2, Lewis Sorley, ed.)    

Wikimedia Commons

The Best Defense

Noonan rips Rummy book: 'Boring, second-rate, half-baked, mediocre'

Nah, she didn't like it.

There have been lots of harsh reviews of Donald Rumsfeld's book, but one of the best ran awhile back in the Wall Street Journal. In case you missed it: It is written by Peggy Noonan, the former speechwriter for President Reagan and Bush the elder, and boy does her prose have muzzle velocity.

"I like Donald Rumsfeld," she begins. She continues:

I've always thought he was a hard-working, intelligent man. I respected his life in public service at the highest and most demanding levels. So it was with some surprise that I found myself flinging his book against a wall in hopes I would break its stupid little spine...Known and Unknown, his memoir of his tumultuous time in government, is so bad it's news even a month after its debut. It takes a long time to read because there are a lot of words, most of them boring.


That's just her opening gambit. A few more choice samples:

--"Second-rateness marks the book, which is an extended effort at blame deflection." [Tom: Mega-dittoes on both counts-I thought the book shoulda been titled Not My Fault.]

--" But the terrible thing about the Rumsfeld book, and there is no polite way to say this, is the half-baked nature of the thinking within it. The quality of analysis and understanding of history is so mediocre..."

--" You'd think, nearly a decade after the events of Tora Bora, that Mr. Rumsfeld would understand the extent of the error and the breadth of its implications. He does not. Needless to say, Tora Bora was the fault of someone else-Gen. Franks of course, and CIA Director George Tenet...It is the great scandal of the wars of the Bush era that the U.S. government failed to get him [Osama bin Laden] and bring him to justice. It is the shame of this book that Don Rumsfeld lacks the brains to see it, or the guts to admit it."

Well said, m'am. I think she captures well the Donald Rumsfeld I covered at the Pentagon for six long years.

Still not persuaded? Here's Max Boot's take on the book and the man.

Getty Images