Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Rumsfeld Resigns

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumfeld resigned today, and this departure was both necessary and overdue. Secretary Rumsfeld has been superlatively loyal to his boss, often effective in his position -- and has a slew of accomplishments to his credit. Past master of bureaucratic politics, Secretary Rumsfeld made plenty of enemies, not least in his own Department.
It is important for a Secretary of Defense, (and a President), to take well-informed military advice when and as appropriate, but not to ever be dominated or bamboozled by service agendas masquerading as expert advice.
Rumsfeld, armed with a ferocious temper, formidable political skills and both massive ego and intellect -- sucessfully avoided co-optation by the military, but perhaps he succeeded too well. Rumsfeld's relentless pressure: well-documented in such works on the Second Gulf War as Trainor and Gordon's Cobra II, to do more with less, and go into Iraq with a minimum of conventional force, combined with his reluctance to see the military sucked into nation-building missions, appears to have been at least in part responsible for the initial failure to properly respond to the developing Iraq insurgency in late 2003 early 2004. To a layman looking in from the outside, Secretary Rumsfeld appears to have harbored a certain amount of bias against plans and suggestions of the Army leadership.
President Bush has many faults, but the absence of loyalty isn't one of them. A President, or other political leader has to be able to discard even loyal subordinates ruthlessly and without compunction, when it is necessary to advance the mission. With Secretary Rumsfeld, that point had certainly been reached.
The choice of replacement (Texas A&M President Robert Gates) is interesting: an old Washington hand with long experience at CIA, and on the National Security Council. Dr. Gates is supposed to be close personally to President Bush. . . and the President's father, the first President Bush.
Dr Gates's prior experience is primarily with an agency that, at the very least, would be characterized as "troubled" and often at odds with the Department of Defense. How effective Dr. Gates will prove as Secretary of Defense remains to be seen. Dr. Gates figured as a witness in the 1980's Iran-Contra affair -- which might concern Democrats, who saw aid to the Nicaraguan anti-communist rebels as a scandal rather than intelligent. If the Democrats are especially stupid, (that is, more so than usual), Dr. Gates's confirmation hearings might be interesting.


Mike's America said...

Something tells me that Rumsfeld was prepared to go rather than be subjected to the constant abuse of the idiots who are taking control of oversight committees on Capitol Hill.

It's amazing that as Secretary of Defense in such difficult times he has lasted THIS long.

But I'm afraid that tossing our opponents a bone will only make them hungry for more. Besides, will the generals who are fighting to keep the OLD Army vs. the new lighter, modern, mobile force Rumsfeld had in mind be able to roll Gates?

Rumsfeld's resignation takes only one item off the Democrat hit list. But it's a long list.

Who's next?

El Jefe Maximo said...

I suspect that you are right about Secretary Rumsfeld being ready to go. Mr. Rumsfeld is in the position to go anyplace he wants and do anything he'd like with his time, and with what he earned in the private sector, he certainly doesn’t need the comparative chump-change paid a Secretary of Defense. Still there he sat for years: suffering the slanders of imbeciles and the sniping of bureaucratic dolts -- probably ruining his health completely devoting his life to the public service – probably the real compensation was getting to associate and work with some truly first-class people. I’m amazed he lasted this long myself.

As for Rumsfeld’s particular policy preferences: there is much in what you say, but care must be taken on the road to the “lighter, modern, mobile force” you talk about. True, he killed boondoggles like the XM2001 Crusader, but his policies and development plans for the services, in my non-expert opinion, tended to rely too much on air power, special operations forces, and technology. That’s all very well, but there is something to the heavier force wanted by the Army generals too. Also, quantity has a quality all its own. We’re just a bit short on quantity just now.

I hear you about the Democrats and their hit list. Right there with you. The best argument, by far, for keeping Secretary Rumsfeld in his place was the fact that the right enemies to have didn’t like him. Just as a general political-philosophical point: I profoundly dislike anything whatever that looks like concessions to a mob – as for me, when the crowds are howling outside the windows for King Louis to show himself on the balcony and put on the Liberty Cap, I prefer to answer with cannons and grapeshot. That said, the main thing is to keep us in the war, and keeping Rumsfeld might inhibit successful prosecution of same, particularly with the number of enemies he had in the Pentagon, to say nothing of the scurvy crew taking over down the street.

On that particular subject, I have grave doubts that Robert Gates will answer as a successor. His background is all CIA and National Security Council – very different institutional cultures as you know. He may indeed get “rolled” as you put it: and he’s probably going to be in bureaucratic war to the knife right off the bat with Negroponte and Condi Rice. What’s needed is an ornery SOB who KNOWS the Pentagon from the inside.

Candidly Caroline said...

It's interesting that his successor will be an Aggie. And, not just AN Aggie, but THE Aggie (of the moment, at least.) This development has been getting Texas A&M a lot of press, which is a good and deserved thing in my book.

El Jefe Maximo said...

SWMBO is an Aggie, so I'm sure she likes the press for A & M too.