The Return of Rummy

Of the mixed bag of conservatives who have popped up in the last 24 hours to defend Mitt Romney’s attacks on Barack Obama for alleged malfeasance in connection with the assassination of U.S. personnel in Libya, the one I’d most regret if I were on that side of the barricades is one Donald Rumsfeld, the Master of Disaster of the Bush administration, who once tossed a State Department assessment of the problems the U.S. would face in a post-invasion Iraq into the nearest trash can sight unseen.

Here was Rummy’s deep geo-political analysis of the situation, via a magisterial Tweet:

The attacks on our embassies & diplomats are a result of perceived American weakness. Mitt Romney is right to point that out.

Given Rummy’s disinclination to spare a lot of public words in defense of the manifest wisdom of his policies as Defense Secretary, you have to figure he wishes Twitter was around back in his salad days of running an inept occupation of Iraq.

But he probably shouldn’t have gone there with this particular argument. As lots of critics (like Brother Benen) quickly noted:

[T]here’s another problem: “[T]here were twelve terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad during George W. Bush’s tenure — the most of any president in history — and eight of those occurred while Donald Rumsfeld was in office.”

There were also seven attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities during the Reagan era.

In other words, by Rumsfeld’s standards, American embassies and consulates were targeted in years past because, during Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s presidencies, foreigners “perceived American weakness.”

Yeah, and that’s aside from the implication that the anti-American insurgency in Iraq, and for that matter, 9/11, were also inspired by “perceived American weakness.”

This is from a man who was part of the very faction of the Bush administration that yoked American foreign policy to the idea that as the world’s sole military superpower, we could do whatever the hell we wanted, so long as we did it remorselessly and without admitting mistakes. His judgments are self-discrediting, and for that matter, do Mitt Romney no good whatsoever.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.