Commentary on the present and future of culture, politics, economics, and social values................... "At any given instant/All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve,/And facts have no endurance." W.H. Auden.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Donald Rumsfeld is widely reported to want to stay as Secretary of Defense in the second Bush Administration in order to finish what he has begun. Too bad. He is one member of the Administration who should be sent packing right away.

In fact, his desire to complete what he has begun shows his major weakness: An egotism and self-aggrandizement aimed at exalting his reputation rather than being committed to serve the country.

Rumsfeld has been associated with four policies that have failed:

1.Do more with less.
His desire to cut the military budget, reduce spending, and cut infrastructure showed his belief that the military could accomplish more with less. As US military commitments expanded, it was clear they could not. Critics rightly point out that the major problem with US intervention in Iraq is that not enough troops were assigned to it. That problem is directly attributable to the Rumsfeld doctrine of doing more with less.

2. US foreign policy to be run by the Defense Department.
Rumsfeld is committed to undercutting the State Department because he thinks they are weak and ineffectual, unwilling to use force. But this position has made the diplomatic solution to problems impossible and compelled the US to use force where diplomacy might work.

3. Military policy is better formulated and conducted by civilian geostrategists than by military personnel.
Obviously shown to be false by the experience in Iraq. The theorists have cloudy dreams of how reality will conform to their ideas. Military people know what war is and are not self-deluded by the ideology of the neoconservative hawks.

4. Exorcise the ghost of Vietnam.
Rumsfeld believes that the experience in the Vietnamese War made the US gun-shy, afraid to use force in international affairs. He expected that "shock and awe" in Afghanistan and Iraq would change that view. The view has not changed. In fact, the result of his adventurism is likely to leave the US once more unwilling to resort to force in international affairs, actually re-enforcing the Vietnam Syndrome.

Rumsfeld would best serve the government by retiring gracefully. If not, President Bush can best serve the men and women in the military by removing him

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