Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Off With His Head!


On the surface, the question raised by six (at last count) retired generals of whether Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign has an obvious answer: of course he should. He was a key man in the cabal that lied us into the war in Iraq, and he may have been the key man in losing that war. What happens to the COO of a major corporation who swindles his company into a risky deal, then blows the deal so the company faces bankruptcy? In today’s business world he probably pops his golden parachute and leaves with $100 million. But at least he does leave. So should Rumsfeld.

Off with his head!

At that point, the picture grows murkier. Who replaces him? Almost certainly, someone no different. He is, after all, the COO, and this company’s problem is that it has a dunce for a CEO. Far from learning any lessons from the previous failed venture, he wants to repeat it, this time in Iran. A fish rots from the head, as the old Russian saying goes, and until this head falls the rot will spread. Where is the Queen of Hearts when we really need her?

Then there is the question of why so many generals (not all of them retired) want Rummy gone. That varies general to general, but when Rumsfeld’s defenders argue that some of his critics are dinosaurs who resent “Transformation” because it disrupts business as usual, they have a point. As anyone who has dealt with the higher ranks of the U.S. military knows, they put the La Brea tar pits in the shade as a dinosaur graveyard. As wedded to old ways of doing things – Second Generation war to be specific – as any other group of senior Gosplan apparatchiki, they hate any hint of change. Years ago, when an unconventional Air Force Chief of Staff had me give my Fourth Generations of Modern War talk to the Air Force’s “Corona” gathering of three- and four-stars, I felt like Milton Friedman speaking to the Brezhnev Politburo.

But here too the story is not so simple. While Rumsfeldian “Transformation” represents change, it represents change in the wrong direction. Instead of attempting to move from the Second Generation to the Third (much less the Fourth), Transformation retains the Second Generation’s conception of war as putting firepower on targets while trying to replace people with technology. Its summa is the Death Star, where men and women in spiffy uniforms sit in air-conditioned comfort zapping enemies like bugs. It is a vision of future war that appeals to technocrats and lines industry pockets, but has no connection to reality. The combination of this vision of war with an equally unrealistic vision of strategic objectives has given us the defeat in Iraq. Again, Rumsfeld lies at the heart of both. But, again, his removal and replacement contain no promise of improvement in either.

At least one of Rumsfeld’s retired general critics, Greg Newbold, understands all this. I’ve known and respected Greg since he was a captain teaching at The Basic School, and many of us hoped he would be Commandant some day, the first Commandant since Al Gray who would try to move the Marine Corps beyond Second Generation war (in more than its doctrine manuals).

But the Imperial Court gets what is wants, and what it wants are not generals like Greg Newbold. It wants senior “leaders” who are, above all, compliant, and it finds no shortage of candidates. They may growl about Rumsfeld in private, but in public they bow and scrape, not only to the SecDef and the catastrophic policies of a failed Presidency, but even more to “high tech” and its magical ability to expand defense budgets. At some point they will make a break, because the military does not want to wear the albatross of (two) lost wars. But not until they have extracted the uttermost farthing.

The play is titled, “No Exit.” Unless, unless . . . Rumsfeld’s head should not be the only one to roll.

WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.






More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”