Academic journal article Military Review

RUMSFELD: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy

Academic journal article Military Review

RUMSFELD: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy

Article excerpt

RUMSFELD: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy, Andrew Cockburn, Scribner Press, New York, 2007, 247 pages, $25.00.

On the heels of Bob Woodward's State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006), Michael Isikoff and David Corn's Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End (Three Rivers Press, New York, 2007), and Peter W. Galbraith's The End of Iraq (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007), Andrew Cockburn offers readers what is undoubtedly the harshest critique of the former secretary of Defense to date. With Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy, Cockburn uses the literary equivalent of a broadsword to explore his subject, striking deeply and often at Rumsfeld as a politician, a business leader, a Washington insider, and a defense secretary. The resulting blunt-force trauma is at times informative, but ultimately exhausting.

Cockburn introduces Rumsfeld as a young congressional hopeful from Chicago, noting his early tendency to leave dissatisfaction in his wake. He follows Rumsfeld through his steady rise within the administrations of presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford, detailing his orchestration of the "Halloween massacre" of 31 October 1975, the political coup de grace that thrust him into the Defense Department at 43, the youngest man to serve as secretary. Cockbum then explores Rumsfeld's ventures into the business world, first in pharmaceuticals with G.D. Scale (where he successfully lobbied for FDA approval of the artificial sweetener aspartame, a suspected carcinogen), then later in technology with General Instrument Corporation and in construction with the Swiss company ABB (where, as a member of the board of directors, he approved the sale of light-water nuclear reactors to North Korea in 1991). …

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