In a Fox News interview, Retired Marine Lieutenant General Paul van Riper joined the chorus of former general officers calling for Donald Rumsfeld to leave his post as Secretary of Defense. (Hand salute to Think Progress for the link to the video.)
Van Riper has been long regarded as a leading iconoclast in the retired flag community. Long active in simulated war games, he resigned as commander of the opposition force during Millenium Challenge 2002, the battle experiment conducted by the United States Joint Forces Command just prior to the invasion of Iraq. Using unorthodox tactics, van Riper managed to sink most of the simulated U.S. naval forces in the Arabian Gulf, decisively defeating the "blue force" and repudiating such Rumsfeld favored "transformational warfare" concepts as network-centric warfare, shock and awe, and effects based operations. The game was stopped, the fleet re-floated, and the exercise continued with significant restrictions placed on the "red" force's actions. Van Riper resigned in disgust.
Almost four years later, we have seen what amounts to a real world recreation of the 2002 war game in Iraq. Except this time, Rumsfeld and his loyal generals can't stop the clock, go back, and make the enemy fight the way they want them to.
Rumsfeld is a nightmare, and I agree that nothing is going to get better as long as he's on the job. I don't think a new man in the Defense cabinet post can fix the fiasco in Iraq, and the same probably holds true for the "defeat snatched from the jaws of victory" situation in Afghanistan. There is nothing that can constitute "winning" in those two theaters of operations. The best we can hope for is avoidance of a complete loss.
But we have the war on terror--the real war on terror, not the distraction in Iraq--to conduct, and to date, Rumsfeld has handled it horribly.
Almost six years after the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon has at long last come out with a comprehensive set of plans to fight terrorism outside of the two war theaters. We don't know too much about the plans because they're secret, so the only parts of it we'll hear about are the parts Rumsfeld authorizes to be leaked. But from what's been officially leaked so far, it sounds like a global Special Forces operation that will be run under the direct control of Donald Rumsfeld. And boy, isn't that just what we need: Field Marshal Don and his Howling Commandos running roughshod over the formal military chain of command, the State Department, the CIA, and the entire universe of international law enforcement agencies. If, by some chance, America has a genuine friend left in the world, it won't have any after two and a half more years of Rumsfeld slapping everybody in the face with a poop pie.
Ultimately, we're only going to make genuine progress in defeating terrorism by repudiating the entire neoconservative philosophy and the havoc it has wrought on our foreign policy and our own military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies. We need to get rid of a lot more people that Donald Rumsfeld--Cheney, Bolton and Rice are up at the top of my list.
But, you have to start somewhere, and Rumsfeld is as good a place to start as any.