Three retired generals have joined the chorus calling for the resignation or firing of Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld. It’s abundantly clear that some one should go, with all the mistakes that have been made. But so far no one has lost a job over the intelligence failures that led to 9/11 or the war that was trumped up and velcroed to 9/11. Those who 'have moved on' have received heck-of-a-job attaboys, if not Presidential Medals of Freedom. In fact, the only people the president and vice president have ousted or outed have been critics and spouses of critics.
Heads should have rolled along with the serial discarding of each of the reasons given for this unilateral and unprovoked invasion and occupation. First there was the faulty intelligence that cited existence of Iraq’s al Qaeda ties, possession of WMD, efforts to buy uranium. Despite the President's claims he got “darn good intelligence”, it was faulty beyond a shadow of a doubt, and no heads rolled for that; certainly not George “Slam Dunk” Tenet. All we were offered were finger-pointing “it was the other guy” alibis.
After the intelligence gap came the post-war planning gap. This was a bi-product of the strategic doctrine, contrived as early as 1996, that we could go into Iraq “lean and mean”, and achieve “shock and awe” with a smaller, modernized military machine. No one in the Administration would listen to those in and out of government who had negative things to say about the complexities occupation would bring; to do so would have increased the cost estimates of the entire operation and would have reduced chances of winning Congressional complicity in the campaign. The non-deliberate manner in which discussions and "debates" were conducted in the cabinet or Congress meant that no one in the system of checks and balances had a clue about what the administration was getting our military into.
This blithe confidence, epitomized by Rumsfeld, that Bush could run his war on the cheap has also seriously harmed the Army and the National Guard. The armed services are over-extended. Re-enlistment rates for both are down. Troops exquisitely trained for combat proved ill-suited for rebuilding infra-structure, policing and care of prisoners.
Rumsfeld also has direct and conspicuous responsibility for abuse of prisoners in Abu Gharib and GITMO, as a New York Times editorial pointed out two years ago:
The United States has been humiliated to a point where government officials could not release this year's international human rights report this week for fear of being scoffed at by the rest of the world. The reputation of its brave soldiers has been tarred, and the job of its diplomats made immeasurably harder because members of the American military tortured and humiliated Arab prisoners in ways guaranteed to inflame Muslim hearts everywhere. And this abuse was not an isolated event, as we know now and as Mr. Rumsfeld should have known, given the flood of complaints and reports directed to his office over the last year.
Personally, I like and admire Rumsfeld. His slick confidence, flippant sarcasm, and articulate deviousness epitomizes and perfectly represents the Bush presidency. As a walking-talking symbol of the cabinet, he would be sorely missed.
With him gone, will GWB’s burdens be lightened? I think so. And also the burdens of many Republicans who are bent on stealing their re-election. Rumsfeld as a familiar and lingering liability of Bush is very unpopular among the military. Let's not lose this familiar face yet! He goes when his man George goes.
Two years ago when I last wrote against 86-ing Rummy, one of the arguments was that if he went, so would his lethal gang composed of Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle. But these lesser war criminals have already escaped the chickenhawk coop.
And that is really the crux. Retention of Rummy keeps the invalidation of the preventive war doctrine 'on the table'!
I want two more years of Rumsfeld. Like a rat who's leg is caught in a trap, Bush would like to chew it off if he could do it in the dark. We should not promote or facilitate such a sacrifice. As it is, Rummy serves us better as a chicken tied around the chickenhawk-in-chief's neck.
Maybe the termination of Donald Rumsfeld, as they say, would be 'a good start'. But we already have a good start on Bush. As long as Big Don's around, he enlarges the target; gone, he is an alibi.
Remember, it wasn’t - and isn't - just Don’s fault. The essential goal is termination of Bush, not Rumsfeld.
Addendum: (26 September 2006):
Today, Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste, Retired Colonel Paul Hammes, and Retired Major General, Paul Eaton spoke before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, a rump group with little legislative clout but access to a proper Senate hearing room. And Batiste made up for lost time.
General Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 and served as a senior military assistant to former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, charged that Rumsfeld and others in the Bush administration
did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq.
If we had seriously laid out and considered the full range of requirements for the war in Iraq, we would likely have taken a different course of action that would have maintained a clear focus on our main effort in Afghanistan, not fueled Islamic fundamentalism across the globe, and not created more enemies than there were insurgents . . . . is not a competent wartime leader and surrounded himself with compliant subordinates.
Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build 'his plan,' which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace and set Iraq up for self-reliance . . . . refused to acknowledge and even ignored the potential for the insurgency. . . . At one point, he threatened to fire the next person who talked about the need for a post-war plan.
Secretary Rumsfeld's dismal strategic decisions resulted in the unnecessary deaths of American servicemen and women, our allies, and the good people of Iraq. He was responsible for America and her allies going to war with the wrong plan and a strategy that did not address the realities of fighting an insurgency.