In the Loop

Wordly advice to Rumsfeld, from Gingrich, Wolfowitz & Co.

Newt Gingrich is among the notables whose wisdom is preserved for posterity in the Rumsfeld Papers.
Newt Gingrich is among the notables whose wisdom is preserved for posterity in the Rumsfeld Papers. (Mike Stewart)
By Al Kamen
Friday, March 4, 2011

The Rumsfeld Papers are an absolute treasure trove for scholars and citizens looking for insights into both the inner workings of the George W. Bush administration's foreign policy apparatus and the mind of the former SecDef, Donald Rumsfeld, and his pen pals.

Best of all, the "search" function at the Rumsfeld Papers site ( ) works very nicely. For example, if you type in "Gingrich," up pops a note from Rumsfeld to top aide Larry Di Rita asking Di Rita to "Please see me" about a six-page memo that Newt Gingrich wrote in June 2003, three months after the Iraq invasion, titled "Seven Strategic Necessities."

Gingrich, the newly suspended Fox News contributor and, if the water's right, presidential candidate, wrote that "Palestine may present us with the challenge of trying to win a total war against an enemy hiding among civilians." Hamas leaders talk about driving the Jews out of Israel, he wrote, calling that a "declaration of total war."

"America has a sound doctrine for total war against an entire nation," he wrote. "Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo and Nagasaki are among the memories of how decisive Americans can be when faced with a threat of total war."

"However America does not have a doctrine for total war against an enemy who is hiding behind a civilian population," Gingrich continued. "Furthermore that civilian population is likely to be terrorized by the forces of total war and so simply appealing to their better interests is useless." Rumsfeld put a small check mark next to that paragraph.

No, Gingrich was not really advocating nuking Gaza. He's talking about a plan for helping Palestinians "who favor real democracy" and oppose the terrorists.

Gingrich also wanted the Pentagon not to continue to "yield the territory" on foreign policy to the National Security Council and the State Department and "other interests" but to "maximize DoD's influence."

So "the seventh strategic necessity is to establish a system of DoD detailees throughout the federal government ," he wrote, by "sending good people to every point in the federal government."

Well, they're always looking for help at the antitrust division.

Is it gripping? Yes.

Be very careful when you go to the Rumsfeld Papers. The stuff can be addictive. Try to limit yourself to maybe no more than 30 minutes a day. Do not ignore the really important things in life.

We were about to spend some time with friends and family, maybe even do some work, when we came across a Rumsfeld "snowflake," or little action memo, three months after 9/11, that Rumsfeld sent his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.

"Subject: Potential Outcomes," Rumsfeld wrote on Dec. 3, 2001. "Please get back to me within 48 hours with a list of things that could go wrong, a separate list of things that could go right, and what we ought to do about each," Rumsfeld wrote.

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