Time for Rumsfeld to leave
President Bush gave a forceful speech this week outlining the five steps to a free, democratic Iraq. Now he needs to follow through. He can start by accepting the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield.Rumsfield handled the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq brilliantly. He used exactly the right force to blitz the Third World armies of each country with a minimum of casualties for all sides.But when it came to winning the peace in Iraq, it’s clear now that the Rumsfield reign has been a dangerous failure. The missteps from the highest level down in this famously hands-on command have made the world, at least for now, far more hazardous for Americans rather than safer.Rumsfield is not the one to clean up his own mess. President Bush needs a new secretary of defense to dig the U.S. out of the hole we’ve dug for ourselves and then truly win the peace. The clearest symbol of how wrong things have gone is what’s become world’s the enduring image of the occupation. That’s neither the toppling of Saddam’s statue by a joyfully liberated people nor a groundbreaking at one of the many schools that have been built. It’s a young American military policewoman holding one of those “liberated” people by a leash, naked and cowering, in a Baathist torture chamber-turned-American prison.
Depending on whom you believe, there were either no plans at all for post-War Iraq – which is not true – or plenty of warnings from a wide range of foreign affars experts and thinkers who wanted to tell the war machine exactly how nasty Iraq would be once the regime was changed and dreams of the Iraqi people long defered by Saddam exploded in the desert sun. All these warnings and analyses that predicted the turmoil were pretty much brushed aside by the Rumsfeld crew.A last straw is the former Pentagon favorite for leading Iraq as president, exiled businessman Achmed Chalabi. His offices were raided by U.S. forces the other day, and he stands accused of passing secrets to Iran. Remember that leg of Bush’s “Axis of Evil”? Rumsfeld’s miscalculation about Chalabi is not merely appalling, but one more in a long line of gross mistakes with Iraq that have rendered the world, not to mention the U.S., much more at risk.America needs help from the rest of the world in which we must live. The next secretary of defense must make up a large credibility gap with once and future allies, and forge a united effort that truly brings lasting peace and democracy to Iraq. D.R., M.Z.