Friday, April 14, 2006

Pressure on Rumsfeld to Resign

With now six retired generals now calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign, you have to wonder if his days are finally numbered. What strikes me is the type of arguments that his supporters are making. Effectively, they are punting trying to rebut claims that he has poorly prosecuted the war and instead have treated calls for him to resign as attacks on his character.

For example, a lot of liberals have hated Rumsfeld from the beginning because of "the way he carries himself" as commentator Dan Goure said on NPR last night in his defense of the secretary. Goure goes on to argue that we need someone who is confident, and almost arrogant in his confidence to win the war. We shouldn't let personal failures get in the way of fighting, and he cites Abraham Lincoln's retention of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant despite concerns by some about his drinking. In another defense of Rumsfeld, Chairman of the Joint chiefs Gen. Peter Pace said that no one should question Rumsfeld's patriotism or work ethic.

But that's not what the new round of generals are basing their arguments on. They cite his refusal to listen to military advice, especially on the number of forces to deploy to secure the country after the invasion. Not only refusing to listen to advice, but publicly humiliating those who did not toe the party line, as Gen. Eric Shinseki discovered when he testified in front of congress before the war. As Gen. Paul Eaton argues, Rumsfeld placed too much emphasis on technology at the expense of desperately needed manpower. The generals also take issue with the secretary's micromanaging of the war. Furthermore, Rumsfeld also refused to acknowledge the insurgency, both in its early days as well as when it was very clear the war was far from over. The secretary is also responsible for Abu Ghraib and the human and P.R. costs that have ensued from it. In particular, he refuted Gen. Pace on what a soldier should do if they encounter a case of torture. The general believed the soldier had the obligation to stop it. The secretary only wanted to the soldier to report it.

These are not attacks on Rumsfeld's work ethic, his patriotism, or his personality. These are attacks on the decisions the secretary has made, his overall strategy and his tactics in leading the war, and the outcomes these have produced. Ultimately, it doesn't matter how much someone wants to win or how hard someone works. What matters are results. If his supporters cannot answer these charges with results (and more so than the president's Michael Brown-style "doing a fine job"), then maybe he should step down.


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