From key members of Congress, to the Kerry campaign, to the Army Times, we hear a low growing rumble that Rumsfeld should go. A long-awaited sound, like rain starting after a dry spell.
Rumsfeld is surely responsible for apparently monumental tactical and strategic mistakes over the last three years.
He successfully marginalized real war heroes in and out of the Pentagon, while promoting more flag officer apparatchiks than Cohen ever did.
He created and nurtured an environment where the half-baked revolution theology of neo-Jacobins Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith trumped hard-headed and practical reality, every time. No exceptions. Doing the same thing, over and over, while expecting some new, improved result. The very definition of insanity.
He has spent more tax dollars on less military capability than ever before in our history. $500 billion a year, for several years now. We didn’t purchase security, or even improved military capability. Instead, we have a beefed up public propaganda operation run from the E-Ring of the Pentagon and we put recruitment programs on steroids and PCP in the face of a wised-up population. Well, at least defense contractor stocks are solid.
Thanks to Mr. Rumsfeld, we have a steady stream of dead Americans being flown home under cover of media blackout. We also have all of our old enemies at the ready, plus a whole bunch of new ones who would like nothing better than to kill Americans any way they can. These new enemies don’t need $500 billion a year to do it, not even close. But their existence sure helps pump up our military budget.
He has overseen the biggest boom in global base construction and completion since after World War II, with a ring of bases in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Djibouti, Georgia. Who needed that?
He seems very happy with an appointed Pentagon cadre unable to distinguish between vivid fantasies of Saddam’s degraded programs blossoming in the dark of night, and the very real WMD proliferation profitably pursued in broad daylight by our allies with our enemies. Pakistan? North Korea? Never mind, Messieurs Wolfowitz, Feith, Cambone, Shulsky, Maloof. You’re all doing a great job.
He has chosen the administration over the soldier every time. Whether the question is guns or butter for the actual soldier, the answer is no. Adding insult to injury, Rumsfeld has proposed paying the Iraqi torture victims in Abu Ghraib, while failing to advocate for the court ordered reimbursement of American POWs tortured by Saddam’s army in 1991. The Saddam Hussein accounts to have been garnished are now President Bush accounts. When it comes to treatment of POWs, it is just one more amazing similarity between the Saddam-izer in Baghdad, and the Colon-izer in Washington. The administration is currently in contempt of court. Rather than comply and reimburse American POWs, it is instead planning to try and overturn the court ruling that awarded this payment.
Rumsfeld has worked diligently to keep Congress in the dark about the money he was spending, and where. Hiding money in SOCOM accounts was apparently standard operating procedure. Only two weeks ago, the hot news was the inconvenient possibility that some $700 million of anti-terrorism defense money in 2002 was illegally spent by a Pentagon getting ready to invade Iraq. Miraculously, this serious accusation — the kind the Congress really likes to get its teeth into — has melted away in the news-rush about nastiness at Abu Ghraib. Funny how that works. Crimes at the very top inexplicably overshadowed by far more titillating crimes by the unwashed military. Hard time for the leadership versus hard time for the E-4. You pick.
So if you think Rumsfeld is in trouble, first set aside your suspicion that President Bush and Vice President Cheney lie all the time. Sometimes they don’t.
When Bush says Rumsfeld is “…doing a superb job. [He is] a strong secretary of defense, and our nation owes [him] a debt of gratitude,” believe him.
When Cheney says, "Don Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had," believe him, too.
Rumsfeld isn’t going anywhere. Not for six more months.
Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.