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Adds Franks: "I have no desire to suck up to the Secretary, but I'll tell you he is a terrific manager. And I have been a combat soldier for a long time. The nexus of the two is very powerful for this country." Another Pentagon official puts it this way: "There are hundreds of one-star generals and action officers who complain that Rumsfeld's not listening to the military. But the truth is that he is. He just isn't listening to them."
Rumsfeld continues to shift troops around as nations fall in and out of the coalition against Saddam. U.S. diplomats worked overtime last week trying to win basing rights for 15,000 troops in Turkey, and they remain optimistic that Saudi Arabia will join Kuwait in allowing U.S. troops to stage from its soil. Rumsfeld also is making an ever growing list of things that could go wrong in a war with Iraq--and peppering his officers to anticipate them. "He has an unsettling tendency to do that," an associate says. As Rumsfeld put it recently, "I'm never satisfied. It's genetic with me."
Don Rumsfeld was 9, living in a Chicago suburb, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The days and nights that followed molded Rumsfeld as he came of age, especially after his father put his real-estate career on hold to join the Navy and fight in the Pacific. "In World War II there were suicide pilots flying their aircraft into our ships," the Secretary told guests at an awards dinner last year. "Today a new enemy is seeking global power and has flown our own airliners into our buildings on suicide missions."
During World War II, Rumsfeld attended school in five cities in four different regions of the U.S. By age 14, he had held 16 part-time jobs, delivering newspapers and selling magazines in Illinois; raising chickens, watermelons and cantaloupes in North Carolina; chopping wood, delivering ice and digging razor clams in the Pacific Northwest; gardening and doing odd jobs in California. After high school he wrestled at Princeton and pinned down a degree in political science. And after a three-year stint as a Navy pilot, he became an investment banker in Chicago.
He was a young man in a hurry. Rumsfeld ran for Congress in 1962 and arrived in Washington at the age of 30, during President Kennedy's last year in office. He was marqueed from the start, one of several Young Turks in the House that included Bob Dole, Gerald Ford and George Herbert Walker Bush. Rumsfeld organized his pals into an informal club and served four terms before leaping to the Nixon White House. There he rose through various mid-level posts and became, within four years, NATO ambassador. He was always unconventional; even in the depths of that partisan era, he maintained a close friendship with Allard Lowenstein, the famed liberal organizer. Rumsfeld took Lowenstein to Republican conventions; Lowenstein returned the favor.