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The Tragedy of Donald Rumsfeld

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The mood was upbeat in the Pentagon when George W. Bush made Donald Rumsfeld the new Secretary of Defense. The buzz phrase was "We 'll have adults running the place again ".

The jubilation was short-lived. Instead of "adult " leadership, the Department of Defense got an egotistical micromanager with big plans to "transform " the military. In the military, there have always been three ways to do things: the Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the Military Way; but that was in the old military. In Donald Rumsfeld 's military there is only one way --the Rumsfeld Way. The Rumsfeld Way is similar to the wrong way, but it costs a lot more.

• "Donald Rumsfeld - a weird man who has convinced himself without a shred of evidence to support it, that he is a military genius...has convinced himself that technology can replace human leadership and ingenuity on the battlefield, so he is prevailing on his intellectually challenged boss to buy lots of expensive toys. " --Stan Goff, former Army Special Forces Sergeant and West Point military instructor, truthout.org interview, Mar. '03

Rumsfeld quickly upset people in both the Pentagon and Congress, and by summer 2001 the media was speculating that Rumsfeld will be the first of Bush 's cabinet to go. But then came the attacks on September 11, 2001; and before the dust had settled, Rumsfeld was calling for war on Iraq.


• "Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq....We all said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan, and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren 't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq. ' ...I thought he was joking. " --Richard Clarke, CBS 's 60 Minutes, 3/21/04

Many people (myself included) have suggested that the war on Iraq was part of a misguided neoconservative plot to take over the world, but my background research has yielded an alternative theory of Mr. Rumsfeld 's motivations for war:


In 1969, after serving in Congress, Rumsfeld landed a job in the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in the Nixon Administration. It was during this time that he hired a "quiet and unassuming " Capitol Hill intern named Dick Cheney to be his assistant. Rumsfeld 's work at the OEO branded him as a "liberal " to many Republicans, and he was considered too much of a "dove " on the Viet Nam War.

Despite these shortcomings, Nixon liked Rumsfeld and made him a Special Adviser to the President. It was during this time that Rumsfeld revealed to Nixon his innermost desire to help his fellow man.

• "Why don 't you appoint me to be some sort of special aide in charge of reconstruction in Southeast Asia? You 've got people in charge of the war, but you need someone in charge of postwar reconstruction. " --Donald Rumsfeld, The Whitehouse tapes (This naïve question may be why, on another occasion, Nixon made the ironic comment that the only cabinet job he didn 't think Rumsfeld was fit for was Secretary of Defense.)

To give Rumsfeld international experience, Nixon made him an ambassador to NATO; and it was Rumsfeld 's good fortune to be in Europe when the Watergate scandal wiped out the Nixon Administration. He returned to the U.S. as part of Gerald Ford 's transition team; and after a 1975 shakeup, Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense and Cheney was the White House chief of staff.

The disappointing end to the Viet Nam War only intensified Rumsfeld 's deep desire to help the innocent victims of war --so he became a Hawk, knowing you can 't begin to help the victims of war without having a war first. Almost immediately, Rumsfeld and his trusty side-kick, Dick Cheney, set out to increase the possibility of war. They sabotaged Secretary of State Henry Kissinger 's Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT) negotiations with the Soviet Union. Their motto was: the more weapons --the better.

• "President Gerald Ford, taking the advice of then staff members Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, vetoed the arms embargo on Pakistan. Earlier in 1974, the same two would save Turkey from a dreaded arms embargo. " --John Stanton, Online Journal, 3/9/05

They also convinced President Ford to sign an agreement that would have allowed the Shah of Iran to develop a nuclear energy program and possess large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium, either of which could be used to build a nuclear weapon. This fell through when the Shah was overthrown.

In 1976, Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, and Rumsfeld was out of the government. These disappointments might have broken a lesser man, but not Donald Rumsfeld; he passed through the revolving door into industry; but he never gave up on his life-long dream of rebuilding a nation ravished by war. For the next twenty-plus years, Rumsfeld worked tirelessly to keep the hope of war alive.

He served President Reagan as a Special Envoy to the Middle East and was instrumental in supplying Saddam Hussein with the weapons, military intelligence and advice he needed to make him a charter member in the "axis of evil ".

During the Clinton Administration, Rumsfeld urged Congress to not ratify the UN Chemical Weapons Convention, and chaired a Commission that found U.S. intelligence was underestimating the missile threat posed by North Korea, Iran and Iraq, (a.k.a. Bush 's "Axis of Evil "). In 2000, Rumsfeld completed the "hat trick " of doing business with all three members of the "axis of evil ".

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Mick Youther is an American citizen, an independent voter, a veteran, a parent, a Christian, a scientist, a writer, and all-around nice guy who has been aroused from a comfortable apathy by the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush Administration.
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