There is not a lot of debate anymore about the fact that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is the loosest cannon in the arsenal. Consider his claim, made in a Sunday oped piece in the Washington Post that, "Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis."
So who agrees with the Don’s attempt at analogy?
Er, well, no one — at least, no one in their right mind.
It is a measure of how out of touch Rumsfeld is not just with contemporary reality but also with well-established history that he has united both Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, foreign and defense policy veterans who are not often on the same page.
Kissinger, the former Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, rejected Rumsfeld’s Germany-Iraq comparison as absurd. "In Germany, the opposition was completely crushed; there was no significant resistance movement," the German-born diplomat who served with U.S. forces in his native land after World War II, told CNN’s "Late Edition."
Kissinger, a sympathizer with the administration’s Iraq policies, made a game effort of trying to reinterpret Rumsfeld’s remarks in a form that might make sense. But it was to no avail, as Brzezinski shredded Rumsfeld’s rewrite of history.
"You know, that is really absolutely crazy to anyone who knows history. When we occupied Germany in ’45, there was no alternative to our presence. There was no resistance. The Germans were totally crushed. There was no resistance. And a great many Germans realized that they had to go back to the democracy that they had before Hitler came to power. And many people don’t know that Germany was a thriving democracy for decades before Hitler came to power," the man who served as national security adviser under President Carter said of Rumsfeld’s rant.
"The situation in Iraq is totally different. And for Secretary Rumsfeld to be talking this way suggests either he doesn’t know history or he’s simply demagoguing."
At this late date, it really is not worth the time of energy that would be required to figure out whether Rumsfeld’s historical education is deficient, whether he is "simply demagoguing" or whether, as his words and actions so frequently suggest, he is "absolutely crazy."
It is better simply to accept the assessment offered by Paul D. Eaton, the retired Army major general who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004. Writing in Sunday’s New York Times with regard to Rumsfeld, Eaton argued that, "He has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq."
"Mr. Rumsfeld must step down," added Eaton, whose stance was echoed on CNN by U.S. Senator Joe Biden, the Delaware Democrat who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."Imagine what would happen if it were announced tomorrow in the headlines of the papers of America and throughout the world that Rumsfeld was fired," explained Biden. "It would energize, energize the rest of the world, to be willing to help us. It would energize American forces, it would energize the political environment. Yes, he should step down. I agree with every single statement made by the former general training Iraqi forces in Iraq."
In addition to imagining all of the possibilities that Biden suggests, a Rumsfeld resignation would also do something else: It would create an opening in the Bush Cabinet for a Secretary of Defense who has a grounding in reality — rather than in the phantasmagoria that defines Donald Rumsfeld’s warped worldview.