- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 26, 2004

All those calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation should take a deep breath and consider their quarry’s record. It’s a formidable one. President Bush knows this, and he knows the nation would be much worse off without Mr. Rumsfeld. That’s why the president is sticking with him. Mr. Rumsfeld is arguably the best defense secretary since the position was created in 1947.

A brief review of Mr. Rumsfeld’s record is in order to remind his critics why. He has rebuilt the U.S. military, which has freed 50 million people from tyranny, decimated al Qaeda, won two wars and is busily consolidating the second of those. None of his predecessors back to James V. Forrestal, appointed by President Truman, can claim anything approaching such a record. His occasional maladroit replies to good questions do not detract from this record.

From the very beginning of his tenure, Mr. Rumsfeld has spearheaded the Pentagon’s shift from a Cold War-era, European- and Northeast Asian-theater force into one better positioned to fight the wars of the 21st century. After the large drawdowns of the 1990s, Mr. Rumsfeld’s efforts to get uniformed personnel out of civilian Pentagon jobs boosted Army troop levels by 30,000. None of his critics concede it, but those 30,000 alleviated the need for a draft. He killed unnecessary defense systems like the Crusader artillery piece against the wishes of congressional pork-barrelers and the special interests.

And there’s the war on terror. Mr. Rumsfeld has overseen the destruction of al Qaeda, the freeing of those 50 million from the yoke of dictatorship and the bolstering of the prospects of countless others. In Afghanistan, the swift assault against the Taliban unseated one of the world’s most cruel regimes and paved the way for democracy. It’s easy to lose sight of how momentous an accomplishment that is.

After Afghanistan, Mr. Rumsfeld directed the manhunt to capture or kill al Qaeda’s leadership. To date, three-quarters are dead or in prison. Osama bin Laden is in hiding and appears to have been rendered impotent.

In Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld’s 23-day campaign unseated a murderous dictator. The manhunt for Saddam Hussein ended nine months later in a spider hole outside Tikrit. Amid an unexpected insurgency, Mr. Rumsfeld is working to quell Ba’athist and radical Muslim fighters, while preparing for the January election and an eventual hand-over of security responsibilities.

With such a record, it’s hard to view the charges against Mr. Rumsfeld as anything more than scurrilous. Mr. Rumsfeld has served honorably and with distinction.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide