If words could waterboard…. Former Bush Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did an interview yesterday with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal (not to be confused with Kai the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker who’s now in jail for suspected murder).
And the interview is better than sex.
It’s like Godzilla went to an interview with Bambi. But unbeknownst to everyone — contrary to all expectations — Bambi fought back that day.
The interview is only 6 minutes long, and it’s just the most wonderful thing you’ll hear in a very, very long time.
So, get a load of the first question.
They’re talking about Rumsfeld’s new book about his “rules” (like Gibbs’ on NCIS), and Kai brings up Rumsfeld’s rule about how “It’s easier to get into something than it is to get out.”
MARKETPLACE’S KAI RYSSDAL: It’s easier, you say, to get into something than it is to get out of it. And I, I can’t help but wonder where we would be in this country today if you guys had been thinking of that ten years ago.
RUMSFELD: I thought of that when I was President Reagan’s Middle East envoy and we had 241 Marines killed at Beirut [in 1983], at the airport. And I concluded then that the United States has to be careful about putting ground forces in because we’re such a big target. And I also over the years came to the conclusion over the years that the United States really wasn’t organized, trained and equipped to do nation-building. So if you think of Afghanistan…
KAI: …Yeah, wait, hang on a minute. I sorta can’t believe these words are coming out of your mouth, ten years later. So this was on your mind as Iraq was burbling up?
KAI: And yet here we are.
RUMSFELD: Well, in Afghanistan we had 23,000 troops in there, as I recall, when I was there, and President Obama ran ‘em up to close to 100,000. And the situation in Iraq, we had a relatively small footprint, and changed the regime, which was the policy of the United States in the Clinton administration. Once you get a mission creep, where people start attempting to do things well beyond that, um, that’s obviously not something the Department of Defense is organized to do.
KAI: I will do you the favor, Mr. Secretary, of assuming you’re not trying to shift responsibility here.
RUMSFELD: Well I’m not, it’s just reality. When you do something, then someone wants you to do something else and then something else and then over time, the mission, historically, creeps into something else that was initiated at the outset.
KAI: And yet, the primary critique of the Bush administration in Iraq is that you guys went in without a plan to get out, and here we now are having a conversation where you say, yeah I was thinking about all this stuff, but we went in anyway.
Then there’s this:
KAI: You appreciate, you can’t have a conversation with Donald Rumsfeld, about the rules he lives by, without talking about these things, right?
KAI: I want you to assess, now, yourself, and your period in office as Secretary of Defense of the Bush administration.
Seriously, it’s some of the best six minutes you’ll ever spend.