Rumsfeld Follies

( – promoted by mishima)


Bradley Graham has a lengthy article, nearly 8,000 words, on the “Decline and Fall” of Donald Rumsfeld in Friday’s Washington Post. The article is adapted from his forthcoming book, By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld.

A few anecdotes leap out that I found telling. Such as, Rumsfeld was afraid of Condoleezza Rice and sent people in his stead to inform her of decisions he made that he knew she would not like rather than in person to avoid her ire.  

When Rumsfeld decided that he was going to remove another brigade from Iraq, he sent Eric Edelman, a career foreign service officer on assignment to the Pentagon as a civilian policy adviser, to inform the Secretary of State.

“He knew that she wasn’t going to like” the latest decision, Edelman recounted. “So I got sent off to call her and tell her that we were going to take the brigade out.”

And indeed, as Edelman recalls, Rice erupted at receiving the news. “What are you guys doing! You’re going to destabilize Maliki!” she exclaimed.

“Look, Madame Secretary, I’m the messenger here. It’s not my decision,” Edelman replied, weakly.

It wasn’t the first time Rumsfeld had used Edelman as a buffer with the secretary of state. Not infrequently, Rumsfeld would send him to high-level administration meetings when he expected some Pentagon position or action to come in for a tongue-lashing from Rice.

“There was a part of him that was very amused that I would go and take this beating from her,” Edelman said.

Rumsfeld sent others to deliver a message he should have given himself. But this kind of cowardice was a pattern by members of the Bush administration. A similar delegation of delivering undesirable news was repeated by Rumsfeld’s boss, George W. Bush. After Bush had decided to fire Rumsfeld and found his replacement, former CIA director Robert Gates, Dick Cheney got to deliver Rumsfeld the news:

After Bush decided on Gates, Cheney called Rumsfeld to deliver the news. Rumsfeld remembers responding: “Fair enough. That makes sense. Let’s get on with it.” He then proceeded to get his affairs in order.

Of course, there was always the lying that was a hallmark of the Bush administration. I think most honest people understand “deliberate deception” to be lying. Here is yet another example of Bush’s many lies:

For his part, Bush, hiding his intentions, went so far as to engage in a deliberate deception, telling news service reporters a week before the elections that the defense secretary would be staying on.

Since being removed as Bush’s Defense War Secretary, Rumsfeld has kept a mostly low profile and is contemplating writing a memoir. A task that may prove difficult, since critically examining his life may be more than Rumsfeld is capable of facing.

He also has embarked on a memoir, overcoming a longstanding aversion to writing such a book. For years, Rumsfeld had privately criticized the memoirs of others for misrepresenting events in which he himself had participated. Nor is he much accustomed to introspection. Preparing to write his autobiography, Rumsfeld read Katharine Graham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, “Personal History,” and confessed that the book’s frankness scared him.

Concluding his article, Graham wrote in part:

But in the end, Rumsfeld’s biggest failings were personal — the result of the man himself, not simply of the circumstances he confronted.

While he was unwilling to profess regrets to me, it is unlikely that he doesn’t have some.

I shudder to think what Rumsfeld believes he’s left undone.



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  1. This is pretty much just notes I jotted down when reading the article. I apologize. I haven’t felt much like writing lately, but the article, at least, was interesting. Hopefully, my notes will get a few more eyes on Graham’s piece.

  2. that we’ll forget the old nightmare that brought on the new nightmare.

    I’m so bored with the USA.  What can I do?

    • Edger on June 13, 2009 at 4:08 am

    I’m still trying to contain my laughter at the thought of Rumsfeld “critically examining” his life or anything he ever did.

    I don’t know how the guy can look himself in a mirror. Maybe he doesn’t? 😉

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