Hogan's Alley

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bring Me The Head Of Donald Rumsfeld

It is clear that a concerted, and probably organized, effort is under way by retired generals of various ranks, to make Donald Rumsfeld pay for his sins in Iraq. Sins clearly were committed in the period following the downfall of Hussein when chaos was allowed to take over the land of Iraq. I know of no reasonable person who holds that the tactics and troop levels of the past three years were correct, except for the President, who has foolishly maintained throughout that if any additional troops were needed or requested he would make it so. It now seems clear that in a Rumsfeld administered Pentagon, no such request would ever see the light of day, such is the assertiveness and bullheadedness of the Secretary of Defense.

But aside from spreading joy throughout the precincts of those who have opposed this policy all along Rumsfeld's departure will mean little or no impact on the conduct of events on the ground in Iraq. We are long past the time when a extra 100,000 or more troops would make a difference. The Iraqi army is finally beginning to stand up and function. It is difficult to imagine anyone in the nacent Iraqi government who would not be required to oppose any troop buildup at this juncture. In fact, opposition to an American troop buildup might be the only thing that might unify the factions in Iraq.

Ironically, on the political front, as Bush supporter Fred Barnes has argued in the Wall Street Journal, jettisoning Rumsfeld and others in the cabinet is Bush's best means of maintaining the viability of his administration for the balance of his term. It may be the smartest move Bush could make, assuming he allows his self-preservation instincts to outweigh his widely acknowledged loyalty to the people who serve him.

More importantly, what a new Secretary of Defense might accomplish is to return some level of confidence to the American people that a truly objective evaluation of events on the ground is driving the choices being made by the Pentagon. The American people need and deserve to believe that when decisions to reduce, or not reduce, troop levels are made in the coming months they are not being made in part by an effort to justify the prior faulty choices of one man.

In the end it is not our faith in Bush that is at stake, but rather our likely future inability to place any faith in the Presidency that is on the block, along with Mr. Rumsfeld's head.

Update: Apparently Bush cannot be steamrolled into abandoning his first principle, loyalty. Too bad.