Sunday, September 03, 2006

Should Rumsfeld resign?

As illustrated in a NY Times article by David Chen entitled "G.O.P. Hopeful Says Rumsfeld Should Resign", an increasing chorus of political voices is calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign, primarily over his management of the war in Iraq as well as his "inappropriate" political rhetoric. I am no supporter of Mr. Rumsfeld, but it is clear that most of these calls for his resignation are primarily political in nature and have less to do with whose face is associated with heading the Pentagon.

Who would replace him? It would have to be somebody who had the confidence of President Bush, but would also have to be somebody who even leading Democrats would agree in private is a credible replacement.

Further, who in their right mind would want the job? It would have to be someone late in their career who is willing to make very unpopular decisions focused on cleaning up the mess as best as is possible. That may mean staying in Iraq longer than anti-war Democrats are willing to publicly tolerate.

It would have to be someone who passionately believes in the value of consensus among allies (as opposed to a mere "coalition of the willing") and the deep value of hard-core, hard-nosed diplomacy and negotiation.

Unfortunately, such a person would be unlikely to go along with the original Neoconservative agenda of using military force to pursue radical democratization, with Iran coming up as the next military target. That dramatically reduces the odds that President Bush would seek or accept Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation.

Personally, I would lobby for former Secretary of State Colin Powell to be the new Secretary of Defense. The so-called "Powell Doctrine" always was a sound idea. Let him take a shot at it.

My second choice would be former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen.

Of course, none of this is likely. Instead, the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney administration will muddle though the next two years and a new administration will take over the reins in 2009.

If the Democrats do win in 2008, I would lobby that Bill Clinton be drafted as a permanent envoy to the Middle East and charged with the full-time task of working through the issues with all parties, including Iran and Syria, as well as religious leaders.

My answer to the headline question: It's fairly irrelevant whether Rumsfeld resigns. If President Bush wants a new approach, Rumsfeld can easily be sacked, but unless President Bush does seek a dramatic change in approach, changing the face at the Pentagon will have little real value. For now, Rumsfeld can and should stay. Let him clean up the mess that he helped to create.

-- Jack Krupansky


At 9:26 PM , Blogger Technologist said...

I think that Rumsfeld had already turned into a symbolic figure. Whenever any professional accumulates that many mistakes, he should be let go. I feel that after the last few years the least that we Americans are entitled to is the second opinion. With Rumsfeld in place, we have zero chance of getting that second opinion. The next Shinseki should face someone more attentive to other points of view.


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