Seattle paper: Fire Rumsfeld!

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Mon Aug 25 19:40:24 MDT 2003


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer August 24, 2003

The United States has more serious problems in Iraq than President
Bush could have imagined when he declared major combat at an end.
Before he faces more surprises, the nation's first MBA president
should take management action.

Relieve Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary.

The president needs a Defense Department in which professional views
about what military force levels hold sway, change can occur without
perpetual turmoil and military planning avoids undermining diplomacy.
None of that is likely under the domineering Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld is brilliant, dedicated and hard-working. It's said he gets
results and has won two wars, right? It certainly didn't look that way
last week when Americans watched scenes from the bombed U.N.
headquarters in Baghdad. Continuing U.S. casualties, sabotage and
insecurity plague Iraq.

In Afghanistan, we now have more troops than ever and the Taliban have
been on the offensive, leading to 90 deaths in a seven-day period.  So
much for driving them into caves. Afghanistan needs additional
resources to become a stable nation.

Every day, Iraq's troubles make it more certain that Rumsfeld was
wrong in his assessment of troop needs. His rapid action plan brought
quick victories. But just as Gen. Eric Shinseki warned, security
requires several hundred thousand military.

News accounts raise questions about whether Rumsfeld is simply a
demanding boss or one who may inadvertently limit what he hears from

When pressed on troop-level questions months ago, Rumsfeld repeatedly
ducked behind the planning of his generals. He now says that his
generals haven't requested additional troops. Such talk has enough
suggestion of buck-passing to be a management concern.

If Rumsfeld brings some genius to hiring decisions, it hasn't been
apparent. He's surrounded himself with neo-conservatives bent on war,
including Paul Wolfowitz, who wanted Bush to attack Iraq immediately
after the Sept. 11 massacres, and such Defense Policy Board members as
Richard Perle and Newt Gingrich.

Somehow, Iran-Contra figure John Poindexter was picked to head the
Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, where he suggested creating
a massive personal data program and a terrorism futures trading

Rumsfeld also has proven to be an impediment to diplomacy. Numerous
accounts show how Secretary of State Colin Powell has been undercut
within the administration.

During the Iraqi war preparations, Rumsfeld insulted allies with such
phrases as "the old Europe."  In Germany, he followed up with public
praise for Romania and Albania's help in Afghanistan, but none for
Germany's leading role. Powell needs to be in charge of diplomacy,
untroubled by an out-of-control defense secretary.

Rumsfeld is the bright, abrasive boss whose usefulness expires
quickly.  If the president has any thought of a more international
approach to security threats, he must remove Rumsfeld from his
leadership team.

Mark K. Jensen Associate Professor of French Chair, Dept. of Languages
and Literatures Pacific Lutheran University

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