Rumsfeld Shirks His Responsibility

Now I’ve seen a furious debate over the question Spc. Wilson asked Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Both sides have good points: the fact that so many soldiers cheered means that there’s a HUGE morale problem. But it’s also true that there’s a tradeoff in armor versus mobility, and yes, soldiers and marines and sailors get killed in war, and we won’t change that any time soon.

However, one way Rumsfeld completely ducked his and the Bush administration’s responsibility infuriated me, and nobody I’ve seen has commented on it. His reply supposedly included this sentence: “You go to war with the army you have.”

Sure, when Iraq attacked through Cuba and took Miami so soon after 9/11/01, I was shocked and ready to go to war, too, and I think people complaining about timing should complain to Saddam Hussein since he start-

Oh Wait, WE Started This One

We could have gone to war with any army we wanted. We had the luxury of choosing the time and place, and, according to the Bush administration now, weapons of mass destruction weren’t a major reason to go, just an also-ran. So there was no time pressure, and Rumsfeld could have prepared for the contingency of taking Iraq with a “transformed” army (which he did well) and then holding it with a follow-on larger force (which he has failed to even consider until now).

Furthermore, Bush could have actually spent some time bringing the rest of the world along so we had partners in the initial invasion and even more to do the dirty, dull, dangerous drudgery that is occupation. We could have French and Spanish and German and Japanese and Saudi and Yemeni and Egyptian and maybe even Russian or Turkish troops on the ground being shot at along with us, providing some visibility and keeping the pressure on would-be terrorists.

But, Mr. Rumsfeld, you failed to plan, you failed to argue for more time, and you implemented a policy pretty much doomed to this kind of slog. It’s not yet hopeless, but if you had a bit of honor you would have stepped aside and let someone else finish this one.

I agree with The Economist: Resign, Rumsfeld.

One thought on “Rumsfeld Shirks His Responsibility

  1. Every time they’ve announced a Cabinet resignation, including Ashcroft, I’ve said, “Damn. That’s not the one I want.” I want Rumsfeld to resign. Not becuase he’s arrogant. Not because he thought this war was a good idea. Not even because he was a part of the intelligence screwup that has really undermined this war effort.

    Its because of how he’s conducted the war. Some of this is conflated with why I danced a smaller jig when Ashcroft resigned, in that his first failing was in prisoner treatment after Afghanistan. Afghanistan wasn’t run perfectly, and bin Laden and Mullah Omar got away clean when perhaps they might have been stopped. But that’s legitimate inexperience at running a war of that type.

    But he showed very little leadership at making it clear to those he led in the DOD that there was a line between ‘new interrogation techniques’ in the war on terrorism, and day-to-day operations in wartime. This led directly to the nations disgrace at Abu Grhaib. It was an open secret that there was harsh interrogation going on at Gitmo. So why wouldn’t soldiers in war use those same techniques? Largely, no one told them not to. It is possible that there were intelligence officers involved, but even if there weren’t, and those soldiers were acting entirely on their own, they weren’t acting in a vacuum. They were acting in the climate that Rumsfeld helped create. He bears responsibility for that.

    Second, he championed the ‘transformational army’ which relied less on manpower and more on technology. Which is good for lotsa things. Except occupation of hostile territory. That takes guys with rifles, and lots of ’em. And Rumsfeld has failed to face that reality. Time for a change.


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