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November 03, 2006

"Donald Rumsfeld Must Go" Iraq

Editor and Publisher says that on Monday, the day before the election, four leading military newspapers — the Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times — will all publish an editorial calling for Donald Rumsfeld's head. Here's the editorial:

Time for Rumsfeld to go.

"So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion ... it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth."

That statement was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Marguerite Higgins more than a half-century ago during the Korean War.

But until recently, the "hard bruising" truth about the Iraq war has been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington. One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "mission accomplished," the insurgency is "in its last throes," and "back off," we know what we're doing, are a few choice examples.

Military leaders generally toed the line, although a few retired generals eventually spoke out from the safety of the sidelines, inciting criticism equally from anti-war types, who thought they should have spoken out while still in uniform, and pro-war foes, who thought the generals should have kept their critiques behind closed doors.

Now, however, a new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate. Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war's planning, execution and dimming prospects for success.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee in September: "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war."

Last week, someone leaked to The New York Times a Central Command briefing slide showing an assessment that the civil conflict in Iraq now borders on "critical" and has been sliding toward "chaos" for most of the past year. The strategy in Iraq has been to train an Iraqi army and police force that could gradually take over for U.S. troops in providing for the security of their new government and their nation.

But despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition.

For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.

Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.

And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.

Now, the president says he'll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.

This is a mistake.

It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.

These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.

And although that tradition, and the officers' deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go. [Emphasis added]

Think back to all the assurances we've received from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice that the Iraqi security forces are getting ready to stand up so US forces can stand down, that US commanders have been given everything they've asked for, etc., etc. All lies.

Posted by Jonathan at November 3, 2006 11:30 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Our military deserves a great deal of respect, not so much for this article, but for the last 3½ years served in Iraq.

If Bush axes Rumsfeld, how is the new secdef decided? By Bush (and then Senate) or by succession? Either way I don’t think a new secdef will matter much so long as there’s oil to be had.

Posted by: Jeff at November 4, 2006 01:12 AM

Thanks for this news. It's a measure of how bankrupt Rummy's reign is that the military brass are ready to bolt and throw him over. The editors wouldn't dream of runninng an editorial like this if they weren't convinced that they reflected the feelings of many military readers.

Posted by: bill at November 5, 2006 09:06 PM