Rumsfeld vs. the American soldier.

Military analysis.
Dec. 8 2004 6:01 PM

Rumsfeld vs. the American Soldier

What Rummy's survival says about Bush's plans for his second term.

(Continued from Page 1)

Rumsfeld has not merely made mistakes, he has made fatal mistakes. Defense secretaries don't decide whether to go to war, but they do decide how to fight the war once it begins. Even most supporters of the war in Iraq acknowledge that Rumsfeld has fought it in a disastrous manner. The litany of errors has been recited many times—distorting prewar intelligence about weapons of mass destruction, whittling down troop levels that the Army chiefs recommended for postwar stability, torpedoing State Department plans for occupation, alienating traditional allies whose assistance is now desperately needed, covering up crimes at Abu Ghraib.

What lessons are the new Cabinet officers to derive from Rumsfeld's retention? It's one thing for a president to demand a Cabinet that follows consistent policies. (Among Jimmy Carter's failures was his hesitation to take out the long knives and choose between his dovish secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, and his hawkish national security, Zbigniew Brzezinski.) It's another thing to demand a Cabinet so loyal and pliant that its members never dare raise arguments, doubts, or questions about the president's leanings.

Advertisement

Rumsfeld's survival—which, given Colin Powell's dismissal, amounts to triumph—tells the newcomers that to get along they must go along; that they're working not in a government but in an echo chamber.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. What Exactly Is Holding Us Back?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 17 2014 5:21 PM Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS But the next president might. 
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM Should Men Still Open Doors for Women? Or is it ungentlemanly to do so at all?  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 4:36 PM Is Nonfiction the Patriarch of Literary Genres?
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 5:56 PM Watch Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and More on New YouTube Channel
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 5:26 PM If Fixing Global Warming Is Free, What’s the Holdup?
  Health & Science
Jurisprudence
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?