Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy
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Donald Rumsfeld, who as secretary of defense oversaw the army, navy, air force, and marines from 2001 to December 2006, is widely blamed for the catastrophic state of America's involvement in Iraq. In his groundbreaking book Rumsfeld, Washington insider Andrew Cockburn details Rumsfeld's decisions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and also shows how his political legacy stretches back decades and will reach far into the future.
Relying on sources that include high-ranking officials in the Pentagon and the White House, Rumsfeld goes far beyond previous accounts to reveal a man consumed with the urge to dominate each and every human encounter, and whose aggressive ambition has long been matched by his inability to display genuine leadership or accept responsibility for egregious error. Cockburn exposes Rumsfeld's early career as an Illinois congressman, his rise to prominence as an official in the Nixon White House, his careful maneuvering to avoid the fallout of the Watergate scandal, and his skillful infighting as secretary of defense under President Ford. Cockburn also chronicles for the very first time Rumsfeld's subsequent tenure as CEO of G. D. Searle (and his devoted efforts to get governmental approval for the controversial artificial sweetener aspartame) as well as his interesting behavior in secret high-level government nuclear war games in the years he was out of power.
President George W. Bush's hasty elevation of Rumsfeld as his secretary of defense proved historic, for it was the triumvirate of Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Rumsfeld who plunged America into the disastrous quagmire of the war in Iraq. Cockburn reveals how Rumsfeld's habits of intimidation, indecision, ignoring awkward realities, destructive micromanagement, and bureaucratic manipulation all helped doom America's military adventure. The book challenges the notion that Rumsfeld was an effective manager driven to transform the American military, examines the reasons that Rumsfeld was removed from office, and shows how his second appointment as secretary of defense reflects a deep conflict between President Bush and his father, former president George H. W. Bush.
Brimming with powerful revelations, Rumsfeld is sure to emerge as the must-have piece of investigative journalism as America grapples with its difficult involvement in Iraq and the uncertain path the country faces today.
Documents most easily accessible online through the National Security Archive, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB127/. See also Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua Bratel, eds., The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib (Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 223–37. 11. The statement was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Michael Scherer and Mark Benjamin of Salon magazine (the point about verbal approval is stated on page 18 of the report), http://www.salon.com/news/
insecurity. Rumsfeld perceived that Bush above all things needed reassurance that despite his previous lack of experience or accomplishment, he was fit for command. In return, Bush could give what Rumsfeld customarily exacted from close associates: loyalty and obedience. One person familiar with both Bush and Rumsfeld suggested that the younger man may have been “intimidated” by Rumsfeld. “He’s a very strong personality, with that way of putting you down, putting you off-balance.” So perceptive
concerned, Rumsfeld decided that if he could not entirely rupture all diplomatic relations with China, he could at least do so as far as the Pentagon was concerned. Accordingly, all Defense Department personnel were thenceforth banned from any contact with the Chinese military, an edict that had severe consequences, as we have seen, during the Afghan war. In Rumsfeld’s world, China was isolated. France was to follow. When the French government began raising serious objections toU.S. plans for
stayed, veterans of Saddam’s army and veterans of no army.”5 Suddenly, as American forces closed in on Baghdad, Chalabi received a request from Centcom to send his men to help subdue the fedayeen guerrillas in the south. Wolfowitz and Feith made sure that Chalabi himself was allowed to travel with his little army, now christened the Free Iraq Forces. In early April, the entire group, some seven hundred men, was flown south on air force C-17s to a former Iraqi base outside the city of Nasiriyah.
heroes in error,” he told Britain’s Daily Telegraph. “As far as we’re concerned we’ve been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important.”15 Had Saddam’s undeniably vicious regime been succeeded by something clearly and immediately better, Rumsfeld and his colleagues might have been able to take the same tack. Unfortunately for the hundreds of thousands of people who were going to die over the next few years, that was not