FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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:

November 21, 2018
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism
Kenneth Surin
Return to Denver: Clouds on the Horizon
Jonathan Cook
Netanyahu’s Ceasefire is Meant to Keep Gaza Imprisoned
John Steppling
Liar Liar
Bill Hackwell
Paradise Lost
Gary Leupp
“Maybe He Did, and Maybe He Didn’t:” Reflections on Morality in 2018
W. T. Whitney
Criminal Behavior: US May be Developing Biological Weapons
Zhivko Illeieff
How Media, Tech, and News Networks Normalize Trump’s Propaganda
NEVE GORDON - NICOLA PERUGINI
Migrant Caravan: Branding Migrants “Human Shields” Has a Deadly Motive
Wouter Hoenderdaal
Jordan Peterson’s Disturbing Views on Inequality
Dean Baker
Nicholas Kristof and the China Trade War
Colin Todhunter
Approaching Development: GMO Propaganda and Neoliberalism vs Localisation and Agroecology
November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail