Why does Rumsfeld still have a job?

What has to happen for the president to finally dismiss his inept secretary of defense? Bob Woodward’s new book reveals that the president’s wife, his then chief of staff, and Colin Powell all urged him to get rid of Don Rumsfeld. Yet Bush still refuses to remove him.   The previews of the book have ...

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606243_Rumsfeld5.jpg

What has to happen for the president to finally dismiss his inept secretary of defense? Bob Woodward's new book reveals that the president's wife, his then chief of staff, and Colin Powell all urged him to get rid of Don Rumsfeld. Yet Bush still refuses to remove him.  

What has to happen for the president to finally dismiss his inept secretary of defense? Bob Woodward’s new book reveals that the president’s wife, his then chief of staff, and Colin Powell all urged him to get rid of Don Rumsfeld. Yet Bush still refuses to remove him.  

The previews of the book have some all too typical examples of the arrogance and irresponsibility that have become the hallmarks of Rumsfeld’s second stint at the Pentagon. Apparently, Bush had to order Rumsfeld to return Condi Rice’s phone calls when she was the national security advisor. Rumsfeld also thinks that the rising number of insurgent attacks are just a sign of better reporting and dismisses questions as to whether his actions (or better put, mistakes) have costs lives by saying he is “two or three steps removed,” which he certainly is from reality. This is demonstrated by the fact that he called Andy Card to object to Bush going to Ohio—you don’t need to be Karl Rove or Rahm Emanuel to work out why he’d want to go there—to the Abrams tank factory, as the beefy tank didn’t fit with Rumsfeld’s desire for a transformed military. 

When Bush was elected, it was common currency to argue that Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld were great appointments, as this was going to be their last job. In fact, the opposite has been true. This knowledge has encouraged them to behave in a phenomenally reckless manner. If America is not to lose in Iraq, the secretary of defense must be pensioned off.

James Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

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