RUBBING RUMSFELD THE WRONG WAY…. President Obama explained last night, “Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive.” Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the remark a “bald misstatement,” and an “assertion” that “does a disservice to the truth.”
And if there’s anyone who’s familiar with disservice to the truth, it’s Donald Rumsfeld.
So, who’s right on this? Eric Zimmermann flags this Washington Post piece from August, quoting Gen. David McKiernan, the former top U.S. general in Afghanistan.
“There was a saying when I got there: If you’re in Iraq and you need something, you ask for it,” McKiernan said in his first interview since being fired. “If you’re in Afghanistan and you need it, you figure out how to do without it.”
By late last summer, he decided to tell George W. Bush’s White House what he knew it did not want to hear: He needed 30,000 more troops. He wanted to send some to the country’s east to bolster other U.S. forces, and some to the south to assist overwhelmed British and Canadian units in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
The Bush administration opted not to act on McKiernan’s request and instead set out to persuade NATO allies to contribute more troops.
McKiernan’s request came in 2007, after Rumsfeld was replaced at the Pentagon.
Nevertheless, the “bald misstatement” appears to be true. We can look forward to Rumsfeld’s apology, but if history is any guide, we’ll be waiting a while.