DONALD’S DEATH A KNOWN KNOWN
The Lord of Darkness, or Donald Rumsfeld as he was otherwise known, has ended his deal with Mephistopheles, by dying aged 88. A former Navy man turned Illinois congressman, Rumsfeld actually started his career supporting the Freedom of Information Act. (An Act which would lead to his downfall in 2005!) Incidentally, that Act passed congress unanimously – imagine that happening now! He then fit in a run as US Ambassador to NATO in between two short government runs under Nixon and Ford. Under Gerald Ford, he became Chief of Staff and then Defence Secretary, and promoted a young man called Dick Cheney to the government for the first time.
In 2001, when George W Bush became President (and his first choice for Defence Secretary preferred staying at FedEx), Dick Cheney returned the favour by suggesting Rumsfeld returned to the fold. In his role as Bush’s Defence Secretary, he became one of the most pivotal politicians of the 21st Century so far, as chief architect of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He was the man who coined the phrase “weapons of mass destruction”, and was also responsible for the cock up in Afghanistan in October 2001 when troops were held back and let Bin Laden escape across the border. (It was either a cockup or a bad example of realpolitik with General Musharraf.) The Rumsfeld Doctrine – send as few troops as necessary – was denounced by former DDP pick John McCain, and with good reason, actually, for it sends American soldiers into warzones understaffed, under-protected and unable to carry out the objectives they were sent for in the first place. It does however save money.
The end results are self-evident today. In Afghanistan, the Taliban went quiet (by normal comparisons) for a decade before building up strength and are in the process of taking back the country. In Iraq, there was no plans for what to do after Saddam Hussein was toppled, leading to insurgent terrorist forces, the breakdown of law, and the rise of ISIS across Iraq and Syria. [Ironically, the country whose forced alliance with the US helped stem back the tide of ISIS was the US’s long term best enemy in the region, and the other third of the Rumsfeld/Cheney Axis of Evil: Iran!] Unlike many Republicans from his era – including his own President and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a decent man Rumsfeld had helped stitch up – Rumsfeld was a voter and supporter of Donald Trump. He probably saw himself.
The problem with Donald Rumsfeld is that he was a deeply talented man. He had the political rhetoric (we joke about known unknowns, but it worked at the time to pacify the public) and he had a jovial one on one conversational manner which helped win supporters to his political causes. He was very good at the political game. If he had been thick as pigshit, like frankly many of the Trump cabinet were, the world would be a far better place today.
The greatest tragedy of 21st Century politics so far, however, was that Donald Rumsfeld was an intelligent man. You can see it in his autobiography, where he lays out his thinking behind every decision. He used that intelligence to force through two unwinnable wars in the post 9-11 aftermath, with inadequate troops, tanks and safety, which led to a rise in soldier deaths, which led to the expansion of Al-Queda, the rise of ISIS and a less safe world even 20 years later. His legacy will always be The War on Terror, the biggest recruiting agent for terrorism in a thousand years.
He was picked by 4 teams: Falling off the Perch, Dead is Dead, Kennedy Driving School (hah), and And They All Died.
9 July 1932 – 29 June 2021