The Last Straw

Orin Kerr in the Volokh Conspiracy presents excerpts from an interview with a general intimately involved in the planning for the Iraq war, reporting that Rumsfield explicitly told him and others involved not to plan for post-conflict operations. As a matter of prudence, I think it exceptionally unwise for the Democrats, if they win the House in November, to hold hearings leading up to an impeachment of the president. I think the opposite is true where Rumsfield is concerned. More than anyone, he is responsible for the mess that Iraq has become. He has the lives of countless American soldiers on his conscience, because of his failure to adequately plan for what numerous officials in the military predicted would come after the invasion. If this report is correct, the first order of business of the Democrats should be to hold immediate hearings preparing the way for the impeachment of Rumsfeld. Democratic candidates should declare on the stump that they will support these hearings. They should do so both as a matter of honor, the responsibility that must accompany gross incompetence by those in high offices, and because doing so is likely to be good politics. The American people want someone to pay for what has happened in Iraq, but they are uncomfortable with the consequences of impeaching the president, and there is some wisdom in this discomfort. But Rumsfeld is vulnerable, and he has enemies within the Republican party itself. This is also a great opportunity to make clear that the situation in Iraq is a direct consequence of the wholly avoidable, monumentally bad judgment of the current administration.

Author: Steven M. Teles

Steven Teles is a Visiting Fellow at the Yale Center for the Study of American Politics. He is the author of Whose Welfare? AFDC and Elite Politics (University Press of Kansas), and co-editor of Ethnicity, Social Mobility and Public Policy (Cambridge). He is currently completing a book on the evolution of the conservative legal movement, co-editing a book on conservatism and American Political Development, and beginning a project on integrating political analysis into policy analysis. He has also written journal articles and book chapters on international free market think tanks, normative issues in policy analysis, pensions and affirmative action policy in Britain, US-China policy and federalism. He has taught at Brandeis, Boston University, Holy Cross, and Hamilton colleges, and been a research fellow at Harvard, Princeton and the University of London.

10 thoughts on “The Last Straw”

  1. The wisdom in having a President, who commits war crimes, escapes me, but I understand the impracticality of the available remedy. Rumsfeld is an easier target, and still richly deserving.

  2. Legal question: can the VP be impeached?
    I see the political logic of not going after Bush, but I wonder if Rumsfeld is low-hanging fruit.

  3. Well, I certainly understand the political impossibility of impeaching bush, as long as you phrase it this way "the political impossibility of holding bush accountable for his many impeachable offenses, his trashing of the constitution, his insistence on torture and secret detention, and his utter incompetence as commander in chief." I'd be perfectly satisfied if the Democrats said this, exactly this way, over and over again. And to my mind you can't begin to hold rumsfeld accountable for this particular lapse in judgement unless you also demand that he admit that he consulted with bush and cheney on this matter and that they, for whatever reason–stupidity, cupidity, naievety, inattention–allowed rumsfeld's decision to stand. It is bush, not rumsfeld, who is commander in chief and it is bush, not rumsfeld, who is responsible for the conduct of the war.
    I'd also like to say that though I think that the *war* in Iraq was avoidable I don't think the "situation in iraq" was avoidable even with a much better, smarter, more honest team of president/sec def/military than we've got. Every single thing would have had to go right for the war to go right and it never, ever does.

  4. "More than anyone, he is responsible for the mess that Iraq has become."
    Yeah, we really shouldn't have made him president.
    Oh wait, the Cosacks DO work for the Czar!

  5. If the American people are uncomfortable, in the face of the truth, about impeaching this President and Vice President (come as a package they do), then the American people share in their crime and shame. There has never been a better case for impeachment; more recently a post at this site explains how in one case a capital crime may have been committed. You are killing people overseas right now. There is no wisdom in continuing to do so.

  6. Oh yeah? The buck still stops on Dubya's desk. He delegates everything except vacations and feels he's out of the loop. Wrong. He's loopy as they come.

  7. What the shit are you talking about. You, the American people, RE-ELECTED the guy.
    The true is that there is no left in the USA. Is that good or bad? who f@#4 cares?
    It appears that only the far right wingers can take the luxury to spaek bluntly and win, as in the case of Ronald Reagan.
    No way that someone like Ralph Nader, who is also very clear in his political opinions and speaks candidly and in a straigh forward fashion be given credit enough to make a diference at the polls.
    It is simply sad, but the soul of the american people is: religious or better said superticious, violent and backwards.

  8. "
    I think it exceptionally unwise for the Democrats, if they win the House in November, to hold hearings leading up to an impeachment of the president.
    The ONLY way I see this as a justifiable claim is double jeopardy. Bush is a youngish man (60 yrs old). The world can change a lot in 20 or 30 years. There's a chance, and it may even be a high chance, that he'll be finding himself in front of the ICC or equivalent in that time.

  9. Mostly true, but do not overlook the left in America. We always come to the rescue at the last moment. But maybe the democratic party could plan a little further ahead.
    Also, WE the American people making up the 50 percent of those who did not vote for Bush, well, were still screwed.

  10. Impeachment is very unwise. Better to let GWB twist in the wind, than to risk simply being called 'partisan' and 'divisive' and rallying the troops to his side. He is his own worst enemy, not the least with his own people and would you really want Dick Cheney as President?
    There is a greater case for impeaching Cheney.

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