Rumsfeld: By His Own Rules
July 25, 2012
I recently finished a book, a biography of Donald Rumsfeld, entitled By His Own Rules. The title reflects the fact that Rumsfeld developed “his own rules” for life. As a matter of fact, these “rules” were not his; rather, he wrote stuff down, copied stuff, that others had written and adopted them as “his.” No big deal.
But it was only after, about a week after I had finished this book that I realized that Rumsfeld was merely a Republican, twenty-first century version of Robert Strange McNamara, who was Secretary of Defense under JFK and LBJ until he was “promoted” to the World Bank when he began to dissent on Johnson’s policies regarding the Vietnam War. The details are easy to get lost in, as is illustrated by the author of the Rumsfeld biography, who never once makes the connection, never sees the similarities between the two men. Again, no big deal.
Here is an outline of what I mean. Like McNamara, Rumsfeld came in as Secretary of Defense to revamp, even “revolutionize” the Department of Defense. And like McNamara, this “revolution” was undertaken in the name of “flexibility” and “efficiency.” And, finally, like McNamara, Rumsfeld needed a showcase for the bona fides of his “revolution;” so, like McNamara’s Vietnam, Rumsfeld had Iraq. And it must be said that Rumsfeld’s results have been a lot like McNamara’s results, not so good. This just might be a big deal.
Of course, if I am the only one to see the similarities here, then it might be that this is just a figment of my imagination and I should try to go to sleep. But as no one, either Democrat or Republican, has seen fit to take on Rumsfeld and his “revolution,” it just might be that I am not seeing things or hearing things that go bump in the night. And wouldn’t it be worthwhile to know that a Secretary of Defense in the twenty-first century was repeating the activities, recreating the policies of a failed Secretary of Defense of the 1960s? And wouldn’t it be worthwhile to ask: Why has no one noticed?