Secretary Of War Donald Rumsfeld



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    Rumsfeld too saw the problem when he returned to the Pentagon after a 24year absence. He told Bush in early 2001 that the U.S. should stop being afraid of "leaning" into problems overseas, shouldn't shy away from getting involved. He believed the Powell doctrine gave a President fewer, not more options. He also recognized that the Pentagon he had run at the age of 43 for Gerald Ford in 1976 had not changed very much since then. His initial campaign to remake the Pentagon by shrinking the military went nowhere until 9/11. But after that, there was no stopping him, though his ambitions for reform would change as well. "Rumsfeld was the first to see after 9/11 that security could be defined broadly and could be used to justify almost anything," says John Hamre, a Deputy Defense Secretary under Clinton and now president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "He was the first to realize the shift of power in Washington from the Congress back to the Executive Branch. No one moved so spectacularly, so systematically at a time when everyone else was just confused and scared. Remember: when the plane attacked the Pentagon, Rumsfeld ran toward the accident. He is very perceptive in the midst of chaos. That's when he gets his best results."

    So as Iraq came into his sights, Rumsfeld pressed Franks to shrink the invasion force, speed the drive to Baghdad and forget about the more traditional, mile-by-bloody-mile invasion tactics that meant stopping at every step to consolidate the coalition's gains. Rumsfeld sold the war in a series of almost daily Pentagon briefings that centered not on the risks of besieging Baghdad but on the risks of not doing so. "We just suffered 3,000 dead in Sept. 11," he mused during a television interview in early February. "If the U.S. were to experience a Sept. 11 with a biological attack...we would see not just 3,000 potentially but 30,000 or 300,000 people [dead]. And that's the test...It seems to me...that we, each person, has to answer that question, Are we willing to put that at risk?"

    When they were done, Rumsfeld and Franks invaded a nation 25 times the size of nearby Kuwait, with roughly half the troops used in 1991--a revolution in the way the U.S. fights wars. Baghdad fell in 21 days, and the U.S. suffered 103 combat fatalities. The plan, according to retired Marine Lieut. Colonel Jay Farrar, "proved to the Army that it can go in lighter and sustain itself longer than it ever imagined."

    --Bungling the Peace

    Ask top Pentagon officials whether Rumsfeld is a strategic or a tactical thinker, and they reply yes. For every blue-sky conversation in Rumsfeld's office about, say, the limits of technology, there is another about ensuring that Pentagon officials adhere to ethics rules when accepting honorary gifts from foreign leaders. Given that depth of field and Rumsfeld's deft handling of the war, it's hard to escape the question, Where was he on the peace? How could a man with trifocal vision fail to see that the peace would need as much planning as the war? As a senior Pentagon officer put it, "The war gets an Aminus, but postwar is more a Cminus or Dplus."

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