To put it bluntly, Rumsfeld is the probably the worst secretary of defense ever. You know he’s bad when the people who should be his most ardent supporters, senior military leaders, come out publicly and to tell everyone how bad he is. Rumsfeld has been wrong on just about everything:
He swore that he knew where the weapons of mass destruction were; he reassured the troops the conflict would last “six days” or “six weeks. I doubt six months”, (Try at least 6 years); he ignored the advice of his own military leaders who knew we needed more troops to stabilize the nation, (General Eric Shinseki wanted the minimum CENTCOM had planned for, 350,000—Rumsfeld cut it to 140,000); he ignored concerns when crime and looting was getting out of hand, (that’s right, they are just expressing their freedom); he cherry-picked the units on the deployment list, skipping certain units that were at a higher degree of readiness; knew about the Abu Ghraib abuses for months and intentionally withheld them from Congress; he completely bungled getting the troops the equipment and armor they need (and still need!); and even when he wasn’t being wrong, he was still harmful. (Remember when he insulted our allies (“Old Europe”) when we should have been asking for help?)
The fact is, he has lost support of the military officers who work for him, and has lost support of the majority of Americans who have increasingly grown disillusioned by Rumsfeld’s extreme incompetence. We are at war, and this is no time for Bush’s infamous misplaced loyalty to trump over what is best for our nation. There is now no doubt that we were misled by this administration into this war, but the fact remains that we simply cannot afford to fail in Iraq. But if there is not a change in the Secretary of Defense, Iraq will continue to deteriorate as will our troop's morale.
None of this, of course, will matter to W. He will drag both countries down with him before he would ever admit that he made a mistake. And that’s the crux of this whole issue: The president can’t replace the SECDEF with someone more credible and more competent (the WP suggested Hagel, McCain, or Lieberman), because the president believes that changing the Secretary of Defense would be an admission of failure. The result: no matter how bad Rumsfeld performs, no matter how much he screws up (and I think we haven’t seen anything yet), Bush will stick with him.
Bush, remember, has never fired anyone. He didn’t fire Mike Brown after the Katrina fiasco, he didn’t fire George Tenet even though he oversaw the two biggest intelligence failures in US history (WMD in Iraq and 9/11). In fact, Bush gave Tenet the highest civilian honor a president can give, the Medal of Freedom.
As a former veteran, I can see the argument that some are using against the growing chorus of former military leaders that are calling for Rumsfeld to resign. Normally, yes, you shouldn’t criticize a sitting Secretary of Defense in a time of war. However, that only holds true if the commander- in- chief will hold those under him accountable and actually act like a leader. As they see it, they don’t have much of choice. These generals coming forward are acting out of loyalty to the troops and to our nation. I only wish our president would do the same.