A Man and His Horse

by Nathan Hamm on 10/22/2005 · 4 comments


Donald Rumsfeld and his new horse, Montana, he received as a gift from Mongolia’s Minister of Defense

Donald Rumsfeld payed a visit to Mongolia to thank Mongolian troops for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan and to encourage Monoglia to continue developing the peacekeeping capabilities of its military, one of the three pillars originally set forth by Colonel Wilhelm. The US is helping Mongolia along this path by providing training and plans to help Mongolia modernize its military.

VOA has more on Rumsfeld’s trip. The New York Times reports on the story with its typical preference for pretty narratives, worthless tangents, and lack of knowledge. Thom Shanker said about the inclusion of Mongolia on the trip,

Mr. Rumsfeld’s decision to include Mongolia in a trip that was intended for heavyweight negotiating in China and South Korea and with NATO defense ministers in Lithuania proves the extent to which the Bush administration must nurture nations that make even small contributions to the military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In particular, the administration views it as critically important to maintain the international component of the American-dominated military coalition in Iraq.

One might get the sense that Mongolia is thinking about jumping ship from that paragraph and that Rumsfeld had to be dispatched to keep 150 or so Mongolian troops on the ground in Iraq. But, like I mentioned above, this has much more to do with well-established US-Mongolia security strategy, a cornerstone of which is raising Mongolia’s international profile and building it a stellar reputation so that its much larger neighbors would have an enormous PR problem on their hands were they to threaten Mongolia. Participating in Iraq is part of this strategy, and I have not seen a single indication that Mongolia plans to do anything but stick 100% to the three-pillar strategy.

As for Montana, so-named because Mongolia reminds Rumsfeld of his wife’s home state, the horse will be staying in Mongolia.

So the horse will remain in Mongolia, cared for by a herdsman named Bilegerdene (many Mongolians use only one name), never to be ridden by anyone for the rest of the animal’s life.

“Only the wind of the steppes will be on his back,” said Khasbazar Boldbat, a Defense Ministry official.

Via Elephants in Academia

UPDATE: Here’s a little more for the NYT. US desperation to keep allies in Iraq apparently wasn’t strong enough to keep Rumsfeld from postponing his Kazakhstan trip.

Also, go pay a visit to this New Mongols post.


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– author of 2991 posts on Registan.net.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 2 comments }

WLB October 24, 2005 at 8:46 am

Do we know why Rumsfeld postponed his trip?
I’d love to know.

AcademicElephant October 24, 2005 at 11:56 am

I suspect it is to prep for the Security Council meeting tomorrow but what do I know?

The horse thing really got nutty.

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