Rumsfeld: Get Out

Totalitarianism, oppression, and the suppression of free speech are acts and ideas that the United States has opposed since its conception as a nation. Indeed, the United States was created as an alternative to the strict limitations of British rule. Our whole government is built to ensure rights for everyone by providing checks and balances to make sure each branch of our government stays within its authority. It is interesting then, that the leadership of the Defense Department, which is charged with defending the land and the ideals of this great nation, is led by a man who embodies the very antithesis of our nation’s foundations. Since becoming the Secretary of Defense in 2001, Donald Rumsfeld has run a Pentagon where the only opinion that matters in the decision-making process is his own, and anyone in the military brass who questions or opposes him will either be publicly undermined or face the loss of their jobs altogether. If Donald Rumsfeld could point to a strong record marked by wise decisions during his tenure as Secretary, maybe his brash, egotistical behavior could be overlooked. However, Donald Rumsfeld’s controlling nature and his authoritarian hold on the Pentagon is exactly why the Defense Department has failed so miserably in Iraq. If Mr. Rumsfeld had actually listened to internal criticisms given before and after the invasion of Iraq, our military may have avoided the quagmire generated by the fierce and unforeseen insurgency. Although many Generals have had issues with Mr. Rumsfeld, there is probably no military official who has been more abused by the Secretary than General Eric Shinseki (Ret.), who served as the Army Chief of during the buildup to the war. After fiercely campaigning against Mr. Rumsfeld for the initiation of the XM2001 Crusader project (a more modern tank) in 2001, and opposing Rumsfeld’s plan to downsize the military, General Shinseki’s successor was named 14 months before his scheduled retirement in a blatantly obvious attempt to undermine Shinseki’s authority. Shinseki refused to be silenced, however, and in February of 2003, he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to occupy Iraq, rather than the proposed 130,000. After calling General Shinseki’s recommendations “far off the mark,” Mr. Rumsfeld refused to increase the occupation force. Because of the inadequately small number of troops in Iraq, a terrorist insurgency took hold, and Iraq now sits precariously in a sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, which is teetering on the brink of civil war More recently, six retired generals called for Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation, each citing a wide array of complaints that testify to the Secretary’s incompetence. Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.) called Rumsfeld’s involvement in Iraq policy “the 8,000 mile screwdriver” (taken from L. Paul Bremer ’59), saying that the Secretary’s insistence on micromanaging the war crippled the peacekeeping effort. Major General Charles Swannack (Ret.) feels that Rumsfeld has “micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces [in Iraq].” “I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him,” Swannack told CNN. Major General John Batiste (Ret.) declined a promotion to a three star rank and was offered the job of second-in-command in Iraq, but declined, as he no longer wished to work under Secretary Rumsfeld. A joke circulating around most Pentagon circles teases that if terrorists were to burst into a meeting with the Secretary and all of his generals to take Mr. Rumsfeld hostage, not one general would lift a finger to save him. The only generals who have come out to defend are those who share an equal amount of blame for their failures in Iraq (General Richard Meyers, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs (Ret.), and General Tommy Franks (Ret.), architect of the invasion). The job of the Secretary of Defense is to be a compromising decision-maker, one who takes the opinions of all the experts and makes decisions based on the best ideas, not just the ones he wants to hear. Donald Rumsfeld clearly hears only what pleases him. As Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.) stated in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, nobody ever questioned Secretary Rumsfeld after such an act cost Shinseki his job. His single-minded, egotistical micromanagement of the Defense Department has led to an insurgency in Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the impending Iraqi civil war, and a host of internal problems at the Pentagon. Secretary Rumsfeld: your failures at the Defense Department have gone on for long enough. You are an impediment to the war on terror, and to protect the very ideals for which this nation was conceived, you must resign.