Rumsfeld shouldn’t be a scapegoat

Donald Rumsfeld might not deserve to keep his job. But he must. Calls for the defense secretary’s resignation surfaced in recent days from veterans’ groups and Rep. David Obey, D-Wis. Certainly, criticism is due for the hyperbole and boorish lack of civility in Rumsfeld’s rhetorical style, as well as for the initial Iraq war strategy – the main reason cited in resignation calls. But, a Rumsfeld resignation might just deceive Americans once again. Stepping down could make a scapegoat out of him, deflecting attention from the real problem critics have – the hawkish elements of the Bush administration.

From Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to President George W. Bush, war zealots hold an excessive amount of power within the executive branch. Within the Defense Department, an alliance between so-called “realists” – folks like Rumsfeld who are more inclined to unilateralism and neocons like Wolfowitz and the influential writers of the Weekly Standard who are supporters of the U.S. empire – is held together by a shared reaction to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Interestingly, the Iraqi crisis is crumbling this political alliance and the somewhat more prevalent neocons are criticizing Rumsfeld’s lack of troop commitment in Iraq. Even with a Rumsfeld resignation, the political school more inclined to making war – the neocons – would stay intact within the administration. Thus, the paranoid defensiveness of Rumsfeld’s realism would be traded for the frightening affinities for bloodshed and pre-emptive strikes beliefs held by the neacons.

With eroding domestic support and the name of four-star Gen. Wesley Clark – former NATO commander of the Kosovo Crisis – flying around for a place on the Democratic ticket, the Bush administration’s international dealings face increased scrutiny. The public might choose an administration more inclined to multilaterism and international compromise. Despite his shortcomings, Rumsfeld should keep riding with his posse until they face judgment day – Election Day 2004.