Rumsfeld Should Go


The Defense Secretary should resign--now. Although George W. Bush is ultimately responsible for the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq, it is Donald Rumsfeld who is the Cabinet member directly charged with planning and carrying out the nation's wars. He should take with him those two self-inflated policy warriors, Paul Wolfowitz (his deputy) and Richard Perle (head of the Defense Policy Board until his venality was exposed). Together with Vice President Cheney, they were the principal architects of this venture, in pursuit of which they have deceived the American people, misled US soldiers whose lives are at risk, scorned the United Nations and defied international law.

We do not assume that these armchair generals will in fact resign. Instead, we present this indictment in the hope that, as Americans begin to grasp the full dimensions of the debacle in Iraq, they too will demand their removal. Citizens may also question the continued presence in government of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell, who were complicit in plunging our country into a war that, even if we win militarily, history will record as an unnecessary and terrible loss: We have unleashed a new era of nuclear proliferation and "preemption," and we have turned a majority of the world's people against us. These facts will not change even if Iraq's defenses continue to crumble and the war ends quickly.

The indictment has many counts, from misrepresenting the threat posed by Iraq, to the miscalculation of human and financial costs, to the shredding of international relationships. While carefully avoiding any reckless comments himself, Rumsfeld unleashed his subordinates and advisers to publicly make the case that the fight would be easy and the troops welcomed. Perle, for example, explained flippantly that "the Iraqi opposition is kind of like an MRE [meals ready to eat, a freeze-dried Army ration]. The ingredients are there and you just have to add water, in this case US support." Democracy cannot function without a standard of disclosure and accountability. If Rumsfeld and team had been even crudely forthcoming, the country might have resisted this bloody trap. The cowardly Congress might have paused before endorsing a premature mandate for open-ended warmaking.

The troops on the ground were misled along with their commanders. "I honestly don't think the Iraqi public wants us here," Chief Warrant Officer Sean McNeal said. "These people are not going to give up as easily as everyone expects." Rumsfeld's reaction when things turned ugly was to claim that the plans were the work of Gen. …

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