Ending Rumsfeld's reign
By John Peebles
Online Journal Contributing
Apr 24, 2006, 01:45
Our current strategy in Iraq is controlled by a political
appointee with no combat experience, who crushes dissent with Stalinistic vigor
and cannot tolerate truth when it conflicts with political goals.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's blind loyalty has been
rewarded with equally blind devotion by George W. Bush, who's kept the
appointee despite Rumsfeld's repeated offers of resignation.
A consummate deceiver with a candid style, Rumsfeld has been
portrayed sympathetically in the media, for at least as long as mainstream
coverage has chosen not to focus too hard on the results of the Iraq war. Yet
now, in an election year, as the fiscal and political price of intervention in
Iraq rises, Rumsfeld's star has become a gaping black-hole of a liability for
the Bush administration.
Rumsfeld's "War Lite"  strategy of reducing the
size of troop deployments hasn't survived the test of Iraq.
Six generals dissing Rumsfeld represents the tip of an
iceberg of resistance to the new doctrine. Prevailing military logic -- esteemed
by the Old Guard--concluded that we needed more troops in the beginning. Army Chief
of Staff General Eric Shinseki was fired for stating the truth that we needed
200,000-plus . During the invasion, Barry McCaffery complained about the
absence of follow-on forces to secure and stabilize, recommending instead a
"brigade of MPs" at every key road junction, behind the force.
Rumsfeld's incompetence and his willingness to sacrifice
problem solving for politics has created a common enemy for both hawk and dove.
Doves must revel in the damage done by the secretary's
alienation within the military community, knowing as they do Bush's stubborn
inclination to reward loyalty to the point of excess, and in the case of FEMA's
Michael Brown, to tolerate incompetence by clinging unendingly to the vassals
of his rotting political machine.
On the Right, powerful Republicans are displeased with how
things are going in Iraq, and their calls for change have the support of
retired generals who specifically blame Rumsfeld. Remembering Vietnam and the
role politics played in military decision-making then, Pentagon insiders are
nervously seeing a replay of an unwinnable, open-ended commitment to defend
corrupt proxy regimes evolve in Iraq.
Both hawk and dove are coming to appreciate a commonly held
goal: an end to the Occupation and a restoration of our military. Should the
impossiblity of victory become clear, and departure more politically viable,
remaining to be decided is only the choice of when we leave.
Massive bases have been built in Iraq, the strategic heart
of the Middle East. We may see a repeat of what we saw in Saudi Arabia post
Gulf I, after a massive airbase was built and abandoned.
Politics in the
Rumsfeld has turned our military into an instrument serving
the political needs of the executive. The uniformed leadership of the Pentagon
has grown tired of the influence of politics in Rumsfeld's decision-making, and
the secretary's self-righteous leadership style (like that of his superior,
Like Bush, Rumsfeld demanded total loyalty from his inner
circle. So, in one of his first challenges to the status quo, he supplanted the
traditional command hierarchy in the Armed Services using the secretaries of
the service branches with a tiered array of personally selected, highly
trusted, controllable minions.
For the Old Guard, an end to Rumsfeld's controversial tenure
connotes a return to a more conventional military, where decisions were made by
senior officers using more traditional assumptions. Buried in Rumsfeld's
departure is the hope that the military may be able to avoid political
influence from White House, or at least minimize it. Theoretically, less
politicized leadership would allow the Pentagon to address with an apolitical
eye the administrative and political problems in Iraq, and, thereby, be able to
resolve them more favorably.
For far too long the military leadership has been eager to
tell Rumsfeld what he wanted to hear, rather than face the truth that the
insurgency was worsening. As in Vietnam, bad news has a hard time working
itself up the chain-of-command. For career preservation, silence was prudent --
the outing of three-star General Shinseki showed that no one in the military
was immune from the influence of politics. Likewise, Shinseki's outing sent the
message that analysis would be judged more on its acceptability to political
sensitivities than its accuracy. This could explain why the Iraq problem grew
worse as Rumsfeld told Bush and the press that things were improving -- a style
of politically sapient media management which ultimately set up big problems
for our military later.
In the lead-up to the 2004 elections, master manipulators
like Rove and Rumsfeld spun a utopian fantasy where we could end the terror threat
and build democracy across the Middle East by liberating Iraq. The clear light
of election year politics has hopefully brought new scrutiny over the conduct
and progress of the occupation of Iraq. In that respect external political
pressures may help alleviate the Pentagon's leadership crisis; as the trumpets
of war fade, the dull spectre of mounting costs and casualties overshadows even
the most vigorously spun optimism and the pressure for change grows.
With the dying dream of democracy in Iraq comes the
blathering stupidity of saber-rattling against Iran. Widening the Iraq conflict
to the surrounding region must really have seasoned military professionals
concerned. Already, with intervention mere speculation, the price of oil rises,
reflecting not only the destabilizing geopolitical impact of any US military
escalation, but also the increasingly clear reality that the US military cannot
control violence in Iraq, which would presumably increase even further in
response to any military action against Iran.
Iran will take us directly into a draft. Our manpower
shortages will further deplete our force strength. This isn't to say that the military
has traditionally been concerned with casualty rates. In its purest form,
military doctrine places victory ahead of cost. In this respect, politics can
serve an important function by limiting the acceptability of losses.
Under Rumsfeld too many officers have chosen to pass on the
opportunity to defend the Constitution, which does NOT give infinite power to
the executive. Giving infinite power to the executive can turn America into a
country not ruled by laws but by a dictator or a king.
Blind allegiance has let our military devolve into a body
with no head. Pentagon leadership, personified by Rumsfeld, can't discern what
is right and what is wrong, or simply doesn't want to imperil career for the
sake of truth, judging by the delayed emergence of anti-Rumsfeld comments until
after the dissenting generals had left the service.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice was ignored under White
House-driven torture initiatives inspired by the legal chicanery of John Woo
 and present Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Torture was deemed, by
strictly political types, as the most effective method for getting at the
The Pentagon has done what it can to gloss over the gross
violations of the Geneva Conventions that it has committed under torture-friendly
Rumsfeld. Still, one day the consequences of redefining our commitment to
Geneva may come back to hurt our troops in the field. While on a superficial
level demonstrating a higher level of commitment to winning, willfully
embracing torture as it defined in the Geneva Conventions (and the military's
own code) is a sign that meddling by the politicos at the top has contaminated
our military, most likely to their detriment in the long-term.
Shadows of Vietnam
Arrogance doomed us in Vietnam, where we failed to recognize
the possibility of failure. Ironically, the much maligned influence of politics
on the conduct of the Vietnam war is oft given as the reason for failure in
Vietnam, alongside the more recently used tactic of bashing anyone bearing bad
news, which is instantly labeled as the product of biased,
A key rationale for Rumsfeld's "War Lite" strategy
was the reduction of casualties. The Right blames political flack for
casualties as a major reason for "surrender" in Vietnam. Perhaps the
force size reductions attempted to make a state of ongoing war more politically
tolerable for the administration at war, thereby, feeding the Pentagon furnace
for an extended period. Whether or not this was Rumsfeld's ulterior motive,
surely the rise in the Iraqi resistance makes "War Lite" obsolete
Leaders who can't recognize the failures of the past are
doomed to repeat them. While useful to protect public image, politically
inspired denial is at the heart of weak leadership and failure to anticipate
and manage problems in Iraq.
Eager to appease his political leader, Bush, and friend,
Cheney, Rumsfeld places greater value on preserving the politically popular
image of victory, to the detriment of practical military concerns, which are
task and result oriented.
Rumsfeld's optimistic predictions protect a domestic
audience who hear what they want to hear. Rumsfeld's spinning also helps
contribute to a disconnect between the what goes on in Iraq and how America
reacts, so the general public is kept unaware of the scope of the problem
"over there." Like addicts in denial, many in the public and politics
ignore reality in order to avoid recognizing the scope of the problem they must
eventually face. Withdrawal is a hard decision.
As casualties mount and questions on a future path out of
Iraq go unanswered, Rumsfeld's endlessly optimistic positions, which used to
appear cute and stylized now seem neither. Rumsfeld's grin and candid style,
once the keys to his media popularity, now seem out of place, and haughty as
hard questions from the media come with fewer easy answers.
The core neocon axis (Rumsfeld, Rice, and Cheney) of the
Bush war machine wobbles as its credibility fades and Iraq worsens. Infatuated
with the neocons' grand imperial odyssey across the Middle East, the political
masters of the Pentagon have charted a dangerous, open-ended course into the
unknown for our military.
Under Rumsfeld, our military is quietly failing. Seduced by
the river of blood money surging through its bowels, the Pentagon denies the
existence of any reality other than that favorable to its political masters. To
keep the train rolling, all are on board, the course is on cruise-control
towards victory and all other possible outcomes are fabrications. Der Sieg Wird
Unser Sein. ("Victory will be Ours.")
Used in Iraq to drum up pro-war, nationalist support for the
"War President's" re-[s]election, those responsible for our defense
must now realize that their beloved Pentagon has been used to further political
ends. Only now, and painfully, they are learning the importance of avoiding
politics as they are bogged down in the hardening mud of the Iraq entanglement.
Closer to the truth, the rank and file military must see the course of
unrealistic expectations unraveling ahead, toiling as they are in the belly of
Ultimately, a military that owes its allegiance not to a
people, or government, but to a single, titular head will likely devolve into
an instrument used to resolve domestic political rivalries. As the creator of
our new military, and a failed Iraqi strategy, Rumsfeld represents a threat to
the functioning of our country's military and must be removed.
There comes a point in the history of all nations that the
reins of power must be pulled from the hands of the incompetent, for the good
of the state.
The author lives in small-town Indiana and is a web-based
writer and analyst covering news, politics, and international affairs.
 Rumsfeld's "War Lite" Strategy
a) The Revolt of the
Generals by Justin Raimondo, 4/17/2006.
b) Gulf War Lite by Rahul Mahajan,
should stop playing fall guy in Rumsfeld's war games by Simon Jenkins, Guardian
 It's broadly acknowledged among Pentagon-watchers that
Shinseki's career came to an end as the result of his honesty.
 The comments of Barry McCaffery, former General and Drug
Policy "Czar" under President Clinton, as given during the invasion
on MSNBC, reflect the wider reaction to Rumsfeld's war plan in Iraq, as it
deviated from traditional military doctrine calling for a larger force. See Revenge of the Generals by
Michael Moran, MSNBC, 9/25/03.
Yoo, Former White House Legal Counsel, Constitutional Law
for him to go, The Economist, 4/20/06
author lives in small-town Indiana and is a web-based writer and analyst
covering news, politics, and international affairs.
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