I just read the

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October 22, 2003 10:58 pm
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I just read the Rumsfeld Memo. And my reactions, I have to say, are rather muted. There is something oddly refreshing about hearing the Sec Def think out loud rather than seeing him give press conferences in which he remains relentlessly on message — especially since he’s often pressing messages at odds with what’s actually happening.

In a similar way, there’s something appealing about listening in on his brainstorming.

What jumped out at me was this line down at the bottom of the memo in which he tosses out the idea of founding a sort of Muslim MacArthur Foundation (Ansar al-MacArthur?) which will subsidize madrassas that are crazy but, you know, not that crazy.

Here’s the line: “Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madrassas to a more moderate course?”

Couldn’t we just build a super-strong ladder up into space instead of using those rockets?

You’d think the madrassas backed by the America-funded Madrassa Foundation (administered, no doubt, by General Boykin) might take a bit of a hit to their legitimacy. But, you know, I’m a details man. And why quibble with a bold idea …

All this aside, what’s missing here, what’s troubling about this memo is that it really does seem to be a candid appraisal meant only for his top advisors. And even in that context there’s apparently no sense that any of the key strategic decisions in the war on terror might have been flawed or misguided.

Yes, there’s pessimism. But it’s pessimism of a certain sort. The theme of the memo isn’t that there might have been too much of X or too much of Y, but that they need to consider 2X or 2Y. And perhaps if things get really freaky, Y squared or even cubed.

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