Rums­feld leaves un­der pres­sure af­ter elec­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Rowan Scar­bor­ough

De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld, the icon of the U.S. war on Is­lamic ter­ror­ists, suc­cumbed to mount­ing pres­sure to re­sign, al­low­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion to be­gin ex­am­in­ing a new course on the bogged-down Iraq war where the Amer­i­can death toll ex­ceeds 2,800.

Ap­pear­ing with Pres­i­dent Bush at the White House on Nov. 8, Mr. Rums­feld re­ferred to his many crit­ics on Iraq by para­phras­ing a hero, Win­ston Churchill: “I have ben­e­fited greatly from crit­i­cism, and at no time have I suf­fered a lack thereof.”

He then talked of “this lit­tle un­der­stood, unfamiliar war,” a con­flict the Pen­tagon has dubbed “the

long war” be­cause of the time it will take to dis­man­tle al Qaeda world­wide.

“The first war of the 21st cen­tury is not well-known, it was not wellun­der­stood, it is com­plex for peo­ple to com­pre­hend,” he said.

Mr.Bush,ap­pear­ingthe­dayafter many Amer­i­cans reg­is­tered a protest vote against his Iraq pol­icy, said, “As the sec­re­tary of de­fense, he has been ded­i­cated to his mis­sion, loyal to his pres­i­dent and de­voted to the coura­geous men and women of our armed forces.”

He­was­flanked­by­his­thede­fense sec­re­tary-des­ig­nate, for­mer CIA Di­rec­tor Robert M. Gates, who will take a fresh look at Iraq pol­icy.

White House press sec­re­tary Tony Snow told The Wash­ing­ton TimesthatMr.BushandMr.Rums­feld had been talk­ing about fu­ture op­er­a­tions in Iraq for months, but he did not know who first raised the is­sue of the de­par­ture.

“It wasn’t like, ‘come see the prin­ci­pal,’ ” Mr. Snow said, who noted Mr. Rums­feld had of­fered twice to re­sign two years ago.

He said they both agreed that “Iraq is not work­ing well enough and­fas­te­nough.”Here­ferred­toMr. Gates’ “new en­ergy.”

He said Mr. Rums­feld for­mally sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion on Elec­tion Day.

Ade­fens­esource­saidMr.Rums­feld knew he was leav­ing at least sev­eral weeks ago.

An­other fac­tor in the two men’s think­ing was that a Demo­cratic vic­tory likely means hours of in­qui­si­tions on Iraq pol­icy by sev­eral House and Se­nate com­mit­tees.

“If he’d have to go up to the Hill three times a week to an­swer an­other re­quest, how ef­fec­tive would he re­ally be?” said a for­mer Pen­tagon of­fi­cial. “I think that’s got to be a fac­tor on some level.”

His res­ig­na­tion ends the Rums­feld era in the Pen­tagon that saw a supreme­ly­con­fi­dent­dy­nam­ic­man­ager tear up years of static pro­cesses and war-fight­ing strat­egy to build a faster, lighter mil­i­tary with bet­ter intelligence and pre­ci­sion power. Along the way, he alien­ated some peo­ple at the Pen­tagon, es­pe­cially se­nior Army of­fi­cials.

Mr. Rums­feld prided him­self in man­age­ment skills. But in the end, it was his per­ceived man­age­ment fail­ures in the three-year Iraq war that did him in.

Mr. Gates, an intelligence an­a­lyst by trade, is ex­pected to do a top-to­bot­tom re­view of Iraq strat­egy and of the gen­er­als ex­e­cut­ing it. He will also con­sult with the two of­fi­cers whom Mr. Rums­feld had hand­picked to run the war, Army Gens. Ge­orge Casey, the top com­man­der in Iraq, and John Abizaid, who heads U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand.

Mr.Rums­feld,74,whow­ill­stayin of­fice un­til Mr. Gates’ Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion, be­came more than a pa­per­push­ing bu­reau­crat. The Septem­ber 11, 2001, at­tacks on New York andthePen­tagonthrusthim­into­be­com­ing the face, and some say, the chief­s­trate­gist­fora­glob­al­cam­paign to find and kill al Qaeda ter­ror­ists.

Af­ter the at­tacks, Mr. Rums­feld be­came a reg­u­lar fix­ture on global television net­works, talk­ing about how he would be happy to have his troops kill mem­bers of the Tal­iban regime. His poll num­bers soared to 70 per­cent job ap­proval in late 2001 and early 2002 as U.S. troops ousted the Tal­iban in Afghanistan just a few months af­ter the at­tack on Amer­ica and as he se­cretly planned for war in Iraq.

Months af­ter Iraqi dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein fell in April 2003, a deadly and vi­brant in­sur­gency be­gan killing Amer­i­can troops with reg­u­lar­ity. They used what the mil­i­tarycalls“asym­met­ri­cal”weapons — road­side bombs and sui­cide bombers. Joined by al Qaeda ji­hadists, the en­emy grew in strength and intelligence. It was able re­take cities once held by the U.S. This year, in­sur­gents con­trolled wide ar­eas of Bagh­dad, de­scend­ing the cap­i­tal into daily sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence as 140,000 Amer­i­can troops changed tac­tics to try to keep up.

As the U.S. death toll mounted and progress was hard to dis­cern, a grow­ing num­ber of law­mak­ers called on him to quit. Dur­ing the elec­tion,asDemocrat­se­l­e­vat­edIraq to their top is­sue, even a few Repub­li­cans made the same de­mand.

Sen. John McCain, Ari­zona Repub­li­canan­dan­in­flu­en­tial­spokesman on­de­fen­seis­sues,de­clared­he­had­lost con­fi­dence in Mr. Rums­feld.

“This im­por­tant change of­fers the ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress a fresh op­por­tu­nity to ex­am­ine all as­pects of our strat­egy and tac­tics in Iraq and make what­ever changes are nec­es­sary to suc­ceed there,” Mr. McCain said on Nov. 8. “I look for­ward to dis­cussing with Sec­re­tary-des­ig­nate Gates his ideas for cor­rect­ing the mis­takes of the past.”

One big mis­take in the Iraq war was that the in­sur­gency was not pre­dicted or planned for. Be­cause of this, crit­ics said, the in­va­sion force was too small. And it did not have the proper body or ve­hi­cle ar­mor.

A scan­dal over the mis­treat­ment of some in­mates at Sad­dam’s in­fa­mousAbuGhraibpris­on­al­so­made head­lines. A hu­man rights groups soon stuck Mr. Rums­feld with the charge of “the ar­chi­tect of tor­ture.” Mr. Rums­feld’s job-ap­proval num­bers dipped into the low 30s.

Dur­ing his ten­ure as de­fense sec­re­tary, Mr. Rums­feld trans­formed and em­pow­ered U.S. Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand as the lead player in the­glob­al­war.He­signedase­cret­di­rec­tive in 2003 giv­ing them au­thor­i­ty­tose­cret­lypen­e­trate­for­eign­lands to hunt down and kill or cap­ture al Qaeda mem­bers. Skep­ti­cal of the CIA’sspyinga­bil­ity,heal­so­gavecom­man­dos broader man­date to col­lect intelligence.

Mr. Bush picked Mr. Rums­feld not to wage war, but to trans­form a mil­i­tary still stuck in the Cold War. He fo­cused on the Army, killing some­ofit­spetweapon­spro­ject­sand break­ing the Army di­vi­sion sys­tem in­towhat­be­came­know­nascom­bat brigade teams. He also shook up how and where U.S. troops are based abroad, re­duc­ing ground forces in both Europe and Asia.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald Rums­feld

Mary F. Calvert/The Wash­ing­ton Times

“I’m ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed with the out­come of the elec­tion, and as the head of the Repub­li­can Party, I share a large part of the re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said Pres­i­dent Bush dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Nov. 8 at which he also an­nounced the res­ig­na­tion of his de­fense sec­re­tary..

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