Lefty academic blogger Tim Dunlop is absolutely rapt in a Dana Milbank WaPo column. Here's Dunlop's entire post
, in which, to his credit, he makes a bit of a grope in the general direction of humour:
Donald Rumsfeld has two new plans. First, don't stop torture: When UPI's Pam Hess asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld replied that "obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility" other than to voice disapproval.
But [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, standing at Rumsfeld's side] had a different view. "It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it," the general said.
Rumsfeld interjected: "I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it."
But Pace meant what he said. "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it," he said, firmly.
Up yours, Rummy.
The second plan is a cunning one to end the insurgency in Iraq:
Last weekend, while other Americans were watching football and eating leftover turkey, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ended the Iraqi insurgency.
It was easy, really: He declared that the insurgents would, henceforth, no longer be called insurgents.
"Over the weekend, I thought to myself, 'You know, that gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit,' " Rumsfeld, at a Pentagon briefing yesterday, said of his ban on the I-word. "It was an epiphany," he added, throwing his hands in the air.
He also decreed war to be peace, freedom to be slavery, ignorance to be strength and that he would in future be known as Dimples 'Hung-Like-A-Horse' O'Toole, the handsomest man in the world.
"It was an epiphany," he added, throwing his hands in the air.
If you follow the link you'll find Milbank's column has snippets of quotes with reams of embellishment in between. So, it's worth the effort to take a look at what was actually said at the press conference
Q Sir, taking on Charlie's question a bit -- and I can give you actual examples from coalition forces who talked to me when I was over there -- about excesses of the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Defense, and that is in dealing with prisoners or in arresting people and how they're treated after they're arrested. What are the obligations and what are the rights of the U.S. military over there in dealing with that? Obviously, Iraq is a sovereign country now, but the United States is responsible for training and expects to turn over the security mission to them. So what is the U.S. obligation in addressing that, preventing that? And what can we do? And what are we doing?
SEC. RUMSFELD: That's a fair question. I'll start, and Pete, you may want to finish. But we are working very hard to train and equip the Iraqi security forces. So is NATO. So are some neighboring countries. There are a lot of people involved in this and dozens of countries trying to help train these Iraqi forces.
Any instance of inhumane behavior is obviously worrisome and harmful to them when that occurs. Iraq knows of certain knowledge that they need the support of the international community, and a good way to lose it is to make a practice of something that's inconsistent with the values of the international community. And I think they know that.
Now, you know, I can't go any farther in talking about it. Obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of; however, we do have a responsibility to say so and to make sure that the training is proper and to work with the sovereign officials so that they understand the damage that can be done to them in the event some of these allegations prove to be true.
Q And General Pace, what guidance do you have for your military commanders over there as to what to do if -- like when General Horst found this Interior Ministry jail?
GEN. PACE: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it. As an example of how to do it if you don't see it happening but you're told about it is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago. There's a report from an Iraqi to a U.S. commander that there was possibility of inhumane treatment in a particular facility. That U.S. commander got together with his Iraqi counterparts. They went together to the facility, found what they found, reported it to the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi government has taken ownership of that problem and is investigating it. So they did exactly what they should have done.
SEC. RUMSFELD: But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it.
GEN. PACE: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.
Seems a bit different when read in context, doesn't it? And isn't it great to see a senior military man contradict his civilian boss in a public forum; democracy in action is a wonderful thing to behold.
Dunlop's take on Milbank's take on Rumsfeld's renaming the "insurgency" – a term I've always objected to as granting undue legitimacy to a bunch of self-interested thugs – is also not true to the original:
Q Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes.
Q I wanted to ask General Pace, I think you mentioned that IEDs and VBIED suicide car bombers remain the sole fundamental tool of the insurgents that you face. What's your overall assessment right now of the IED situation? Are attacks up, down? What kinds of new IEDs are you seeing? What kinds of Iranian influences are you seeing on the IEDs?
And actually, quite seriously, the other thing I wanted to ask is today the day that you two at the podium stop using the word insurgents? I'm kind of noticing that.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh no, I'm sure I'll make a mistake and slip back into it.
Q Is there a fundamental reason you bring that up today?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I guess so. I'll answer first.
Q (Off mike) -- IEDs --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure. Yeah. No, I don't know. I don't know why. I've thought about it, and over the weekend, I thought to myself, "You know, that gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit." Why do you -- why would you call Zarqawi and his people insurgents against a legitimate Iraqi government with their own constitution? It just -- do they have broad popular support in that country? No.
You think of an -- I think of an insurgency slightly different. Maybe I'm wrong. I'll have to go to the dictionary.
Q (Off mike) -- bring that dictionary --
SEC. RUMSFELD: What was the word I used -- a long hard slog, and you went to the dictionary on me. Isn't that right, Jamie?
Q Right. And I forgot to bring it today.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. Well, I'll go look it up. It just -- it was an epiphany.
Q We'd be interested in following your thoughts on that.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe. These people don't have a legitimate gripe. They've got a peaceful way to change that government through the constitution, through the elections. These people aren't trying to promote something other than disorder and to take over that country and turn it into a caliphate, and then spread it around the world. This is a group of people who don't merit the word "insurgency," I think. But I'll look it up. You look it up for me, too. I'm sure you will.
Q Can I just have my IED question answered?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure.
Q Thank you.
GEN. PACE: Because our enemy in Iraq clearly understands that they have yet, not once won an engagement with U.S. and coalition forces on a battlefield, they use the IEDs as a weapon of last resort. And it's an indiscriminate killing mechanism that kills many more Iraqi women, children and innocents than it does those in uniform. That's number one.
Number two, because they see very clearly that this is the third election this year where Iraqis are about to voice their own rights and pick their own future, they are -- the insurgents are -- (laughter) -- I'm sorry, sir -- I'm not trainable today!
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.)
GEN. PACE: I'm not trainable, today! Are increasingly --
Q It happens when you get over 60.
GEN. PACE: That's right. That's exactly right, thank you.
It's obvious that Rumsfeld is trying to make a serious point about the legitimacy of the insurgency and, despite the seriousness of the subject matter, manages to not take himself too seriously. It's no wonder a humourless lefty academic blogger – "Dimples 'Hung-Like-A-Horse' O'Toole"; I rest my case – fails to understand.
Update: Tim Dunlop, in comments at his blog, completely demolishes my post with attempted sarcasm:
I'll tell what's really funny, JF. Your link has generated two hits. Try not to overburden my stats software like that, will you?
Thanks for pointing out my small readership, Tim; I have yet to figure out how to use that counter thingy.