April 28, 2006
"As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."
-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
Bad news continues to pile up around Don Rumsfeld like garbage at a land fill. The latest blast came from an unlikely source, The Army Times, which conducted a poll showing that 64% of enlisted men think Rumsfeld should tender his resignation immediately.
It would be impossible to find a more conservative publication than the Army Times or a more compelling reason for stepping down. Still, the recalcitrant Rumsfeld shows no sign of caving in or loosening his withered grip on the levers of power.
Earlier in the week, an equally devastating article appeared in the New York Times "Criticism of Rumsfeld Widens to Young Officers" echoing that younger officers are just as sick of the glib Rummy as their elders. One anonymous officer noted, "We have not lost a single tactical engagement on the ground in Iraq….The mistakes have all been at the strategic and political levels." Confidence in the Secretary is deflating more rapidly than the air leaving a punctured tire.
Most of the grumbling about Rumsfeld seems to center on his two salient attributes; arrogance and ineptitude, the twin-axels of predictable failure. There isn’t one part of the 3 year occupation he hasn’t mishandled, mismanaged or completely bungled. His tenure at the War Dept represents the greatest collapse of leadership in the history of the republic.
You’re doin’ a heck-uva job, Rummy.
It was Rumsfeld who refused to commit enough troops to the original invasion making it impossible to establish order; just as it was Rumsfeld who left the armories and munitions dumps unattended, disbanded the Iraqi military, and dismantled the government through de-Ba’athification. All these proved to be costly and avoidable mistakes which made reconstruction difficult and security impossible.
Rummy has brushed aside such idle criticism saying, "Stuff happens".
Rumsfeld’s only success has been in alienating the Iraqi people by authorizing the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib as well as the gratuitous destruction of Falluja; two events which galvanized the Iraqi resistance and savaged any chance of winning over Iraqi "hearts and minds".
Now, Iraq is in the throes of deadly guerilla war with casualties mounting by the day and not a glimmer of light in the tunnel. The responsibility for the deteriorating situation mainly rests with one man, Don Rumsfeld, the primary architect of America’s desert "cakewalk".
Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton's summarized Rumsfeld’s abysmal performance best when he said that Rumsfeld was "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq."
The problem with Rumsfeld runs deeper than his failure to stabilize Iraq. His "Strangelovian" ideas of military transformation have no place in a democracy. His efforts to convert the military into a martial-force for private industry have eroded America’s moral standing in the world and put allies and enemies on alert.
We can see now that Guantanamo, Bagram, and Abu Ghraib are not anomalies, but vital gears in a global war machine controlled from Washington.
A Washington Post article last Sunday "Rumsfeld OKs wider anti-terror role for Military", exposed another frightening part of Rumsfeld’s "transformative" vision. Following the next terrorist attack on American soil, Rumsfeld plans to deploy "elite Special operations troops" to conduct military operations in countries outside of war zones. Under the secretary’s direction, 53,000 paramilitaries and Green Berets will be released into sovereign nations in violation of international law, conducting renditions, assassinations, sabotage, and acts of piracy. Rumsfeld’s plan abandons all prior constraints on the military and converts the entire world into a "free-fire" zone.
There’s no doubt that Rumsfeld’s malignant strategy encompasses the American "homeland" as well. It was Rumsfeld who pushed the Posse Comitatus law towards extinction by setting up NorthCom, a military command post within the United States. This creates the possibility that future military operations will target the American people, a threat which was anticipated by the founding fathers. Under new legislation the military is free to spy on American citizens, deploy mercenaries to natural disasters, and, in the event of a terrorist attack, arrest citizens without charges.
All this leaves little doubt that Rumsfeld’s ultimate goal is to remove the military from all congressional oversight and create a global policing apparatus for transnational corporations. The final component of his plan will be set in motion following the next terrorist attack.
Rumsfeld’s ambitions are worrisome but we should not ignore how dramatically public opinion has shifted against both him and the entire administration. Bush’s dwindling popularity is bound to frustrate any scheme to militarize the nation.
We should also be encouraged by the extraordinary catalogue of failures that Rumsfeld has amassed in just 6 short years. His record does not support his lofty dreams of global domination. We expect he will fail in this endeavor as well.
Regrettably, the price of ambition tends to be quite high. As Marine Lt. General Greg Newbold opined, "The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood."