“The Righteous Nation”

Steve already mentioned GQ’s article about Donald Rumsfeld. You should really read the whole thing. I just thought I’d highlight this bit, about the Biblically-themed cover sheets that Rumsfeld attached to the President’s daily intelligence briefings on Iraq:

“In the days before the Iraq war, Shaffer’s staff had created humorous covers in an attempt to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle. Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed the biblical passages more suitable. Several others in the Pentagon disagreed. At least one Muslim analyst in the building had been greatly offended; others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the fallout — as one Pentagon staffer would later say — “would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.” (…)

The Scripture-adorned cover sheets illustrate one specific complaint I heard again and again: that Rumsfeld’s tactics — such as playing a religious angle with the president — often ran counter to sound decision-making and could, occasionally, compromise the administration’s best interests. In the case of the sheets, publicly flaunting his own religious views was not at all the SecDef’s style — “Rumsfeld was old-fashioned that way,” Shaffer acknowledged when I contacted him about the briefings — but it was decidedly Bush’s style, and Rumsfeld likely saw the Scriptures as a way of making a personal connection with a president who frequently quoted the Bible. No matter that, if leaked, the images would reinforce impressions that the administration was embarking on a religious war and could escalate tensions with the Muslim world. The sheets were not Rumsfeld’s direct invention — and he could thus distance himself from them, should that prove necessary.”

Gosh: who could possibly think that something like this could make people think that we were on a crusade against Islam?

The full slideshow is here. I also very much liked the one that said: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (from Proverbs). In view of Rumsfeld’s actual record on this point, it would have been more accurate to say: “Plans? We Don’t Need No Stinking Plans!”