Friday, December 08, 2006

Rumsfeld Says Goodbye

There are tasks needing urgent completion and tasks requiring patience to achieve. The swift, efficient and successful military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq are a testament to the leadership Donald Rumsfeld brought to the Pentagon. The transformation of two countries long controlled by authoritarian use of pain and death into societies with consensual government and the humane rule of law, is a task longer than any individual should be expected to undertake.

Rumsfeld Bids Farewell to Pentagon: Rumsfeld went from being a sensation during the press conferences after 9/11 to one of the more controversial figures in recent American history because of his handling of the war in Iraq.

It should be recalled, though, that he certainly didn’t need this job and has sacrificed mightily in adding six more years of public service after a long career. The man gave up a cushy, high-paying job outside the limelight to take over a job he had had a quarter century earlier.

His efforts to transform the Pentagon were controversial but, mostly, dead-on. The military is much more joint than ever in its history and he managed to bull his way through a moribund bureaucracy to kill some ridiculously expensive weapons systems that we surely did not need.

One of the questions following his talk is: “Mr. Secretary, how do you want history to remember you”? To which he answers: “Better than the local press”. If in time, Muslims transform their societies to respect women, cherish the gift of individual free will and renounce the deterministic fatalism of unquestioning subservience to violent human authority, then Donald H. Rumsfeld will be remembered as a remarkable man.