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December 12, 2006

The Last (Taxpayer-Sponsored) Hurrah


by Chris Maynard

When a cabinet secretary dashes off to the scene of his biggest crime and bills it as a farewell tour, the visual pickings can be pretty slim. Sean Hannity of Fox TV went along for the ride, Donald Rumfeld’s fifteenth to Iraq, but there were no reporters. Similarly, the only pictures and captions came from the Defense Department. Perhaps this is what Mr. Rumsfeld had in mind when he said “go minimalist” in his famous pre-firing memo.

This scene offers Secretary Rumsfeld with one of his greatest triumphs, the Iraqi military, brand spanking new, bright as a penny and hardly been used.

According to the caption, the men are “Iraqi soldiers at Forward Operating Base Hawk.” We have to trust that either the men speak English or the Secretary has learned Arabic in his spare time. It might be bad form if they had been told to just stand there and stare at him while he performed. Is he giving them a pep talk or are they discussing Clausewitz? Maybe he’s telling them about how he and the neos kneecapped Colin Powell, or about the worrywart generals who wanted more divisions in on the invasion. They probably already know about the flowers strewn in the streets back then.

But those searching stares remain. The glare of the fluorescent bulbs doesn’t help matters but adds to the ramshackle look of the group. Was some PR type thinking “They’ll love this in Missouri?”

The second soldier from the right, in particular, catches the eye. His body has the question mark posture, leaning slightly forward at the hips, his head thrust toward the Secretary. Pressed into service for this type of dog and pony show, the soldiers on the left warily ride it out, but this guy looks like he might actually have a question. Of course, this might explain why Rumsfeld’s right hand, applied in continuous salesmanship, also seems ready to flick him away.

It also might explain why Mr. Rumsfeld’s trip was confined to US military bases.

Rather than checking out downtown Baghdad, he got no closer than the rather prematurely named Camp Victory next to the airport; the remainder of his itinerary was unannounced and took the form of visits to other heavily-armed bases. This time, however, instead of putting on his blue blazer and Timberlands for a stroll through the sand and dust, it was heads down, hold on and fare me well.

(image: Cherie A. Thurlby.  Forward Operating Base Hawk. December 9, 2006.

  • marysz

    Has Rumsfeld no shame? In the photos from Defenselink he’s “thanking” the American troops for the fact that he put them in an unjustifiable war with inadequate supplies and equipment. It’s one more Orwellian Administration photo-op. On his earlier trips to Iraq, Rumsfeld was openly contemptuous towards the soldiers. Now he’s got that Mr. Rogers-style cardigan on and is pretending to be nice. As usual, the trip to Iraq is all about him and trying to salvage his reputation. The soldiers, American and Iraqi are just props.

  • KansasKowboy

    The fact that he took Sean Hannity along with him for the ride is very curious. These people don’t even hide their agendas anymore. Let’s hope that the days of their agenda are coming to a close.

  • weisseharre


  • Dr. William Dyer

    Considering that most of these Iraqi soldiers are missing name tags and have the look of professionals, I wonder what type of unit they are from. Considering the Iraqi forces a riddled with infiltrators and Rummy is a high-value target I suspect these guys might be Iraqi top level troops. I know many countries save the red/maroon beret for only those who are airborne qualified or similar. I think I even see gold wings on the side, though I may be mistaken.
    I just bring it up since Rummy has been a big advocate of Special Forces(and their methods) as well as the way the Pentagon gave a serious look into the “Salvador Solution” for Iraq. There give a gentle tip of the hand to what type of military Rummy was leaving for Iraq’s government, let alone what he has done to our own.
    In addressing the leaning person, he would like to know if Rummy has open seat on the plane for the flight out.

  • Charlie C.

    now that you mention it…..
    It does seem that a better choice might have been to fashion the Iraqi military in their own brand of regional garb. They look very displaced and unsettled in the US soldiers outfits, – like a GI Joe doll, misclothed by some juvenile prankster, especially since the average US soldier is desipsed and hated – not to mention a target for every IED and discarded sniper 7.65 Nato round.
    This group would probably love to drag the reptilian freak out to the public square and administer some street justice.

  • KingElvis

    Took me a while to realize:
    The question mark guy is…Commander GI JOE! He’s got a lifelike full beard and of course, Kung Fu grip, and when you pull a string, he repeats a littany of bold ideas for the military.
    Come to think of it – that’s Rummy too. The Iraqi Army – just in time for Holiday shopping!
    I just read a NYReview of books article by Mark Danner. If you think Donny is just an imperious pile of manure, you can add that he’s also a lying sack of shit. He told Bremer de-Baathification was Bush’s policy when it was obviously Doug Feith’s (Cheney’s bitch at the Pentagon) pet project.
    Rumsfeld epitomizes the pathological nature of the “ruler” personality. Like Stalin, he’s not losing any sleep about his crimes. The man simply has no conscience at all.

  • martin

    I have always had a sneaking regard for donny. Known unknowns aside, he always seems to do exactly what it says on the box (600k plus Iraqi dead and 1 good to go!). Surely, in this daze and age, that is consummmate politics.
    What struck me about photo was his hands and the perspective. Is that a gun in your hand Donald, or are you just pleased to see us?
    The youngest ever and now (was) the oldest ever Defence sec.
    Informed bagfolk, can you tell me whether he is more likely, or less to face indictement as a result of this sacking/resignation?

  • Al Gomas

    Personally, I think these guys are looking at Rummy and thinking evil thoughts. Especially the guy in the back left. If I had people looking at me like that, I would be edging towards the exit and not turning my back.
    Rummy, however, is in character and oblivious to their malice as he spews his gee whillikers in their general direction.

  • Jerald S. Gross

    I remember this photo. It’s mislabeled. The Secretary is actually talking to two Iraqiis via an interpretor(second from the right. This is the guy leaning forward.) I am standing next to the Secretary. You can see atleast my nose and chest.

  • Jerald S. Gross

    I remember this photo. It’s mislabeled. The Secretary is actually talking to two Iraqiis via an interpretor(second from the right. This is the guy leaning forward.) I am standing next to the Secretary. You can see atleast my nose and chest.
    Not sure why this posted under Al Gomas’ name. I am the one in the photo.
    Jerald S. Gross
    July 17, 2007

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