The Return of "The Return of Ja(a)far" -- Donald Rumsfeld, Part II
This is part II of a reposting taken from Danse Macabre III: The Return of Ja(a)far [Donald Rumsfeld], which first appeared on the ePluribus Media Journal in December of 2006. Part I was posted yesterday, here.
It's long, but detailed. Hope you find it enlightening. -- GH
Turning the Corner: the Last Throes of Donald Rumsfeld
Global war (or "Total War"), means "other countries." The first "prime target" for this war -- after the minor inconvenience of having to begin in Afghanistan to satisfy the "purists" who wanted to pursue Osama -- was Iraq. We've been there now for more than 3 years; Rumsfeld has backpedaled from any claim that the war was initially promised as short, and has engaged in explaining his philosophy of "The Long War." This "long war" wasn't mentioned in the selling of the war in the first place -- it was, however, the plan for engaging the military and accomplishing goals very clearly in line with the PNAC policies.
The basic doctrine proposed by the PNAC in order to "rebuild America's defenses" was based on controlling the world oil/energy supply, ensuring that America's needs were secured and uncompromisable. The doctrine was lacking in one critical area, however: nobody took the nature, culture and history of the Middle East (or any other nation) into account.
While knowing the history and culture of Iraq may have helped competent planners and strategists, Rumsfeld's plan took none of this into consideration. The neoconservatives believed that everything would just come together, and they wouldn't need to "plan for the peace" after the invasion. Iraq was simply a "means to an end" and therefore not worth the expenditure of time and resources. The PNAC agenda was a tad bigger than that, and the reshaping of the Middle East didn't hinge on one little country. They were dead wrong, of course.
The hubris of Donald Rumsfeld and the George W. Bush Administration has spawned unbridled, growing chaos and threatens to spark conflagrations that extend far beyond mere "unintended consequences" for the region and the world. The disconnect from reality has been so great that George H.W. Bush had to take a more active "behind the scenes" role, placing James Baker and several others into positions where they could help Jr. attempt to extricate himself (and any potential legacy) from this debacle. Donald has been retired, after leaking a memo that should help mitigate his overall culpability in the lingering disaster, but the United States still faces the quagmire that sprang from his hand, directed by his policies and his misdirection of the military.
The world has waited in breathless anticipation for the recommendations of the Baker-led Iraq Study Group, hoping that a clear path would be presented to enable us to chart a new course out of this muck.
The world need not have waited so long. Indeed, "Poppy" might have done everyone a favor if he'd only insisted on Junior reading previous studies of Iraq war planning based on 1999 war games or his own Presidential memoir. As late as the fall of 2004, excellent information that helps explain some of the difficulties we've since encountered was available. One piece, in particular, leaps to mind. Ironically, it was written by a man named "Jaafar"...
Rudy Jaafar -- "Time for Arab History to Follow its Course"
From al Nakhlah, The Fletcher School Online Journal for issues related to Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization Fall 2004, Article 3, by Rudy Jaafar: "Time for Arab History to Follow its Course" (PDF file)
America is now more than ever engaged in a historical dynamic it has so far failed to fathom. At present, the single most important source of international instability is America's problematical relationship with the Muslim world generally, and with the Arab world in particular.
Note here that the perspective -- that the problem is America's relationship with the Muslim world -- reflects the author's viewpoint. As we look back upon our involvement in the region, it's not impossible to see that, in spite of the perspective, the observation is indeed accurate: our participation in the regional politics and our "problematic" relationship with the region reflects our nation's interests as defined and stated by our leaders. When our leaders have a vested interest in the oil supply, with a rank and wholly corrupted co-interest in war profiteering, they reflect their own interests as that of our nation, and with it they reflect poorly upon us.
The Bush Administration has not been alone in this regard. They have been, by and far, the culmination of the worst aspects of this self-centered nature. It is not in their best interests for the nation to pursue alternative energy. It is not in their best interests to pursue peace or diplomacy. But it is in their interest to sell us on the idea that the region is significant, that alternative energy is not yet viable (or is being pursued vigorously, in spite of diverted funding). And it is most assuredly in the interest of the Bush Administration to convince us that they and (by extrapolation) America, must bring "democracy" to the Middle East. At the point of a gun.
Surely, the thinking goes, none could refuse America's liberal democratic ideals and its vibrant culture -- hence the American bewilderment at the recent violent resistance to America's "benevolent travail" in Iraq, once again blamed on terrorist elements or radical clerics. To Muslim Arabs, however, the perception and understanding of the present situation is very different.
Muslim Arabs are not alone in their vastly different perception and understanding of the present situation. Most of the world sees what is going on. But the region -- perhaps particularly "the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat" -- has circumstances, history and faiths that tie intricately together and give them a unique viewpoint: this "mess" is in their backyard. Indeed, it's in their front yard, too, as well as in the town squares, the hospitals, the streets and the morgues.
It's not simply a matter of a "democracy" or even "a more democratic" method of governing and living. It's a matter of an entirely different culture, one based on a history of conflict and conquest, suppression and faith. And "faith" isn't simply a word to incite the masses over there -- it's a real thing, a living part of their everyday lives and deeply entrenched in their history. Here's a complicated but enlightening excerpt:
The predicament revolves around the Muslims' struggle to balance the exigencies of temporality with the transcendental requirements of the Sharia'ah, the Muslim holy law. Muslims believe their polities must be governed by the divine regulations dictated to the Prophet. However, with some exceptions, these provide only finite generic principles; what are God's answers to the increasingly complex necessities of life? To respond to the specific contingencies of their governments, Muslim rulers in the past adopted an expediential principle called Siyasa, where worldly utility was used for state policy and public law positivization, as long as it contradicted no explicit Sharia'ah statement. On the other hand, the Muslim clerical class maintained its autonomy to dictate the application of Islamic principles in the private sphere, acting as the ultimate authority on the concurrence of law with the Sharia'ah.
Ah, there it is -- a nugget of knowledge, obscured slightly by context. In short, a diamond in the rough. Let's break it down: Laws being updated and improved to reflect the modern complexities of life in order to improve and keep in step with their neighbors and trading partners, but governed and moderated by their religious laws as interpreted and dictated by the clergy, who serve as the final authority of where the law and the Sharia'ah meet.
It's a balancing act, but unlike the "balance of power" that our nation's system of checks and balances used to provide, the Muslim version favors the clerical class and the religious interpretation of the Sharia'ah over the law whenever there is a conflict. Tough? Yeah.
How does one implement the transcendental principles of Islam in the temporal context of a nation-state? How does one interpret, then positivize, the indefinite Islamic Sharia'ah, all the while responding to the contingencies of a modern state? Islamic thought, having met its first challenge of divesting itself of Western interference, now faced its true dilemma.
The Iranian Islamic revolutionary state has, so far, failed to overcome this obstacle.
Iran is held up as a nation that accomplished one part of a goal that other middle eastern nations seek to achieve -- throwing off a heavy-handed Western influence in order to return to their roots, effectively establishing a religious backbone to their national government.
And it has, so far, failed.
What lessons does the evolution of Islamic political and legal thought in the case of Iran hold for the United States in the present day? Firstly, America must realize and admit to itself that, nolens volens, it has inherited a colonial legacy in the Arab world. Its actions are perceived through the historical lens of past experiences. America's worldview clashes with the Arabs' and it is important that America understand that its every action will be perceived as reinforcing the neo-colonial structure. Even if formulated with genuinely "good" intentions, America's policies can only have negative effects in a world defined by its opposition to Western intrusion.
America wasn't the first nation to come in and set up a colonial type of nation-state, but the continued presence is viewed exactly as if it is all part and parcel of the same system. Occupiers.
Only when genuinely native governments emerge will the internal historical Muslim debate redirect from its present anti-Western vector towards a search for genuine inner development. This may well mean that several Islamic governments may come to life. Nevertheless, this may be the best America could achieve given the present situation.
And this is reminiscent of some of the very "plans" being explored now regarding American withdrawal and the aftereffects of it upon the region. Staying there is not an option.
A direct intervention to create a liberal Arab order will only backfire, as the Iraq case is slowly proving to be. America's longing to export its values will be better served by giving Arabs a real opportunity for self-determination. Maybe it is time the United States practiced what it preached and allowed Arabs to determine their own future, free from interference. Maybe it is time to let go, strip the neo-colonial mantle, and allow Arab history to follow its course.
A major factor that would affect our ability to "let go" ties back to the strategic importance of the region, both in terms of energy and access. But in terms of the PNAC's plan, "letting go" is just not an option. And many of the changes that Rumsfeld made, in order to "update" our military to meet his vision of the future -- and, idealistically, to enable the Rumsfeld Doctrine to succeed -- will take a while to correct.
Image credit: Donald Rumsfeld by Deano, of "Cartoons by Deano."
Are these changes insurmountable? No. But it might just take a level of dedicated effort not unlike that required to spawn a whole new branch of the military. Let's take a look at one of the most significant changes that the military has implemented -- the birth of the Air Force by splitting it off from the Army. We'll start by looking into the birth of a set of regulations that governed that major shift: the "Joint Army Air Force Adjustment Regulations," or JAAFAR for short.
JAAFAR -- Joint Army-Air Force Adjustment Regulations
Born out of the National Security Act of 1947 , the Joint Army-Air Force Adjustment Regulations (JAAFARs) "were published to ensure adequate dissemination of integrated detailed procedures and regulations pertaining to the changes necessitated" by the Act.  The necessary changes not only dealt with the reassignment of moneys, personnel, real estate and equipment -- they also covered "Assignment of Psychological Warfare Responsibilities" (JAAFAR 1-11-30 1948)and "Certain Intelligence Collection and Dissemination Responsibilities" (JAAFAR 1-11-31 1948).
In short, JAAFARs were written to cover every and all conceived (or discovered) requirement for which an adjustment or regulation was required. The significance to this piece is the similarity to some of the changes that Donald Rumsfeld's "Doctrine" required, and the "adjustments" he's made via fiat (usually in the form of memos) to bring about the necessary changes in our military.
Almost like his own version of George W.'s signing statements.
Rumsfeld's coordinated, in-your-face hands-on approach also reflected and influenced various documents pertaining to the use and control of space -- the ultimate "high ground" in any conflict where deployment of intelligence-gathering satellites or defensive or offensive weapons could truly define a superpower. Unfortunately, Rumsfeld's "adjustments" to realize his vision didn't take the realities of other nations into account, nor did it plan for anything that a real military would actually need. His desire to make the entire structure into one big rapid-response strike force negated the need to allow for occupational requirements; since his vision didn't include being "the world's police force" he didn't feel that he needed to do anything to "secure the peace" -- his troops would get in, do their work, and get out.
It's unrealistic to think along those lines for an entire military. Those functions are already covered by elite Special Forces troops; if more are needed, designate them. Instead, Rumsfeld reduced 'unnecessary' infrastructure and did his best to cut costs for anything that didn't fulfill his requirement for a lean, mean military.
In the real world, meanwhile, other nations made adjustments to deal with the dangerously unbalanced reliance of the US on high-tech, high-dollar defense systems.
Donald Rumsfeld's grand vision has not only led to a significant weakening of our military, it's also severely undermined our capacity to deal with many real-world scenarios.
In Summary: Recap and Conclusion
Donald Rumsfeld played a significant role in the Nixon Administration; his work and association with one Richard B. Cheney, and their own individual experiences through the years both inside and external to the US government, contributed to the forging of the uniquely dysfunctional military and foreign policy aspects of our current "leadership" team. Just like the Disney character, "Jafar" came back more powerful than before to wreak havoc before being cast aside (in the case of the Disney character, his genie bottle was cast into molten lava), Donald Rumsfeld has been kicked to the curb but his legacy lives on. A legacy steeped in blood and death, which has weakened our military and left our nation engaged in a deadly war of choice.
The Bush Administration is unlikely to accept the advice of the ISG. The words of Rudy Jaafar appear to be hauntingly prescient regarding our presence in Iraq and the troubles we faced; written while we were only beginning this crazy misadventure, they still hold ominous portent for the escalation of violence and increased violence we are still seeing today.
Just as the National Security Act of 1947 and the resulting JAAFARs transformed our military and intelligence organizations, the Patriot Act and the Rumsfeld Doctrine have altered and transformed our nation into one less suited to the pursuit of freedom, putting our freedoms more in thrall to the needs of national security, intelligence and military power. The rise of the Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned us about started before he had even taken office, but the myopic vision and powerlust of the Bush Administration, through the assistance of one Donald Rumsfeld, has made manifest that most singular danger to our nation.
We are very quickly approaching a time where our capacity as a nation to reverse these trends can be realized. It is incumbent upon each and every American to call for the restoration of sanity in our nation. We can no longer afford to take the word of those who we have elected to serve in our interests; everything must be called into question -- counted and weighed, divided and measured -- to ensure that it is not found wanting. At this point in time, we need to learn to see the writing on the wall, else we shall find ourselves playing fiddle for a danse not of our choosing.
Appendix, References, Footnotes and Credits
A Special note of thanks to Roberto Parada
I must explicitly call out a special note of thanks to Roberto Parada for his permission to use the image of Rumsfeld with the bald eagle as a bird of war akin to a master falconer. The piece is titled "Eye on War."
Roberto Parada began his career in editorial illustration in 1991 immediately upon graduation from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. On September 19, 2003, he was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia (bone marrow failure) at Beth Israel North Hospital in New York. The probable cause was Benzene exposure (found in paint thinners and many art materials). He has since undergone a lifesaving bone-marrow transplant. In his own words,
Art materials, especially The Toxic variety, need to be approached with the utmost caution and safety. One can never know how are bodies will react to such contamination. Today I still work in oils but this time everything in my studio is AP Non Toxic including my paint thinner for cleaning (mineral oil).
My life in illustration now is dedicated to bringing about a greater conscious understanding of the dangers that exist in some of the materials we work with and still be able to create great artwork.
Art and editorial illustration is Roberto's career; I was not only impressed with the quality of his work, but also his generous permission to use this image and one other (in an upcoming installation) in exchange for bringing more attention to the problems of Severe Aplastic Anemia (bone marrow failure) and the efforts of groups and organizations working against this deadly disease. Please check out the links below, also from his website's "About" page, and spread the word.
Here are some important links to understand Aplastic Anemia and bone marrow transplantation further as well as the dangers of Benzene exposure and the diseases linked to it.
Blood Saves For information on life saving blood donations.
Once I wrap up this series, I intend to write a piece about some of the toxic chemicals in our everyday lives and touch again upon Roberto's story. And check out his work -- he's definitely a star in his field.
One last note: if, in these times of challenge, you are only able to donate blood, please do so. The life you save may in turn inspire millions.
Thank you to Deano, of Cartoons by Deano for permission to use the image of Rumsfeld's floating head. Check out his website, too. He's put together a great sketchbook that serves as a guide for aspiring artists on how to create caricatures, using several of his works to illustrate.
Some more info about him, per Cartoons by Deano:
Deano has published editorial cartoons and illustrations in several local, regional and national magazines and newspapers. Deano and his wife, Mary, operate retail and digital studios on Florida's Emerald Coast. We are proud members of the National Caricature Network, an international organization of professional caricature artists.
Deano recently developed an editorial illustration style of caricature based on photographic montages. This combination of caricature painting and photograph composite is a unique form of illustration for publications and advertising.
The Works of Hans Holbein (The Younger)
Hans Holbein the Younger was German painter who lived during the Renaissance period (born 1497, died 1543). His "Danse of Death" was published c. 1523-25.
Jose Guadalupe Posada, Mexican engraver and illustrator
Posada's most popular works are of calaveras (skeletons) in various forms of dress, meant to satirize the upper class. His work is often associated with the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos ("Day of the Dead").
1 The Disney tale "Aladdin" may be more familiar to some people as an old movie (from 1940) with live actors, called "The Thief of Bagdad." [hat tip Aaron Barlow]
2 The Voltairenet article has some interesting, nefarious and slightly tin-foil qualities to it, as well as a few little quirks of translation, but it is worth reading on a dark and stormy night.
3 The plans dealt with many areas, drawing upon the cumulative "lessons" learned by the members. I've written before about some of the "lessons learned" by these folks. I believe that the PNAC was the primary source for the various draconian articles that comprised the Patriot Acts, although I don't have direct confirmation of this. Another noteworthy item, produced earlier, can be found here, entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses."
While the PNAC appears to have closed its doors, it may simply have been reborn as a new organization -- the same key players, but less associated baggage. Smoke and mirrors, ad infinitem. No matter where they go, or what form they take, it's always about the oil and protecting the power of the corporations. It's always the usual suspects.
4 The National Security Act of 1947 was, in and of itself, a significant transformation point in the role of defense and intelligence in the United States. From the Wikipedia entry
The National Security Act of 1947, Pub. L. No. 235, 61 Stat. 496 (July 26, 1947), signed by U.S. President Harry S. Truman realigned and reorganized the United States' armed forces, foreign policy, and Intelligence Community apparatus in the aftermath of World War II.
Aside from the military reorganization, the act established the National Security Council, a central place of coordination for national security policy in the Executive Branch, and the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States' first peacetime intelligence agency.
The act and its changes, along with the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, were major components of the Truman administration's Cold War strategy.
Perhaps the most telling and interesting bit of imagery necessary for putting this all into a proper perspective is this, the signing: "took place aboard Truman's C-54 presidential aircraft Sacred Cow, the predecessor of Air Force One."
For some, the National Security Act was -- and is -- the equivalent of a Cold War era "Patriot Act." For your perusal, I therefore humbly submit this excerpt from the January 3, 2006 post on Historical and Investigative Research:
The National Security Act (passed in 1947) allows US Intelligence to begin any action, at any time, without asking anybody. In addition, US Intelligence may postpone indefinitely any report of such activity simply by claiming that making the report would harm the "national security" of the United States. This is a recipe for absolute power. It follows that the National Security Act of 1947 gave US Intelligence the power -- if not the explicit authority -- to corrupt the press in secret.
The article struck me as significant in two very important ways:
- 1. It sounded like a major conspiracy-theory, yet
- 2. We've already seen aspects of it in use, as depicted by the deflecting and dissembling of both the George W. Bush Administration and Rumsfield's handling of the military.
5 From a 375-page PDF file of scanned JAAFARs, containing a fairly in-depth list of the various JAAFARs (numbers and titles). You can view the first six pages of the document -- essentially, the table of contents that list the included JAAFARs -- here:
Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6.
Thanks to luaptifer, here is a jpg version of all six pages stuck together; it's clear and relatively small.
About the numbers and subdivisions, from the first page of the PDF file (page 1 of the TOC):
The Act created the Department of the Army and the Department of the Air Force. The regulations were subdivided and numbered to indicate the basic subject matter and numbered serially by blocks within each subdivision.
The original PDF (36 mb filesize, PDF) contains scanned images of all the JAAFARs listed in the TOC. Due to filesize and bandwidth concerns, I am not able to provide it for widespread consumption at this time.