RUMSFELD IS TOO VALUABLE TO LOSE
Bush administration critics have used the horrors of Abu Ghraib to demand the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. For most of them, their real beef with Rumsfeld is not human rights violations committed under the auspices of a rear echelon unit commander but the war itself. They want Rumsfeld to go primarily to discredit the war so the United States would be forced to resume the defensive, passive, pre-9/11 posture vis-a-vis Islamist terrorism and rogue state dictatorships. If Rumsfeld directly approved a policy of torture then of course he should go but the likelihood of that having been the case is quite marginal. If sporadic criminal actions by military personnel in an organization of the size of the Department of Defense - more than a million people - during wartime is to be the criterion for resignation then the office of the Secretary of Defense is going to need a revolving door.
Rumsfeld is probably going to be ranked with Henry Stimson
as one of the most important and influential " secretary of war" in the last century. Stimson was one of the last to hold the old title and like Rumsfeld held the position twice, serving as an elder statesman and key advisor to a much younger Commander-in-Chief. Stimson, as Geitner Simmons points out, also had his share of military prison camp scandals.
Each served during a war that marked a transformative era not just for the United States but for the structure of international relations itself. Henry Stimson successfully helped end Germany's ambitions to be a global hegemon and saw the start of the bipolar nuclear age. Rumsfeld and America stand at the crux of what could be.
If we prevail in this war against Islamist fascism the result could be a liberal, globalized world anchored in the moment of American unipolarity - values such as individualism, liberal democracy, market capitalism and tolerance could become the common property of mankind. If we fail, it is less likely that the Islamists will " win " so much as they will push the world closer to anarchy - failed states spreading chaos and violence like a virus to their neighbors, rich nations sheltering themselves behind protectionist walls and fortified borders, giving up the character of open societies in order to seek ever more restrictive measures to achieve " Homeland Security".
We do not need at " caretaker " Defense Secretary or some silver-haired senator looking to round out his political career with a cabinet post. We need a tough administrator who knows the turf battles and shell games of the brass. We need a Defense Secretary who can run a war and a revolution in military affairs with the vision to understand that the doctrine and equipment suitable to stand against the Warsaw Pact in 1984 will not provide an answer to al Qaida in 2004. Or the challenges of 2024.
We need Donald Rumsfeld.