“If I could not be effective, I’d resign in a minute. I would not resign simply because people try to make a political issue of it.”…Donald Rumsfeld
In a war that could go on for decades, you cannot simply detain people indefinitely on the sole authority of the secretary of Defense
Fareed Zakaria, The Price of Arrogance, Newsweek
America is ushering in a new responsibility era,” says President Bush as part of his standard stump speech, “where each of us understands we’re responsible for the decisions we make in life.” When speaking about bad CEOs he’s even clearer as to what it entails: “You’re beginning to see the consequences of people making irresponsible decisions. They need to pay a price for their irresponsibility.”
“I take full responsibility,” said Donald Rumsfeld in his congressional testimony last week. But what does this mean? Secretary Rumsfeld hastened to add that he did not plan to resign and was not going to ask anyone else who might have been “responsible” to resign. As far as I can tell, taking responsibility these days means nothing more than saying the magic words “I take responsibility.”
After the greatest terrorist attack against America, no one was asked to resign, and the White House didn’t even want to launch a serious investigation into it. The 9/11 Commission was created after months of refusals because some of the victims’ families pursued it aggressively and simply didn’t give up. After the fiasco over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, not one person was even reassigned. The only people who have been fired or cashiered in this administration are men like Gen. Eric Shinseki, Paul O’Neill and Larry Lindsey, who spoke inconvenient truths.
Leave process aside: the results are plain. On almost every issue involving postwar Iraq—troop strength, international support, the credibility of exiles, de-Baathification, handling Ayatollah Ali Sistani—Washington’s assumptions and policies have been wrong. By now most have been reversed, often too late to have much effect. This strange combination of arrogance and incompetence has not only destroyed the hopes for a new Iraq. It has had the much broader effect of turning the United States into an international outlaw in the eyes of much of the world.
Whether he wins or loses in November, George W. Bush’s legacy is now clear: the creation of a poisonous atmosphere of anti-Americanism around the globe. I’m sure he takes full responsibility.
UPDATE: Eloquent post of the day by an American soldier, ArkhAngel:
I harbor no illusions that Secretary Rumsfeld will resign, or be impeached. The President is far too mired in the muck, the web of deceit, corruption, and irresponsibility for him to fire one of his closest advisors–because ultimately, the final responsibility lies with him, in the Oval Office.
Harry Truman, an honorable man, once said of the Presidency, “The buck stops here”. Not with these men and women, for whom honor, dignity, and responsibility are merely partisan watchwords, to be mouthed but not lived. Rumsfeld and Bush may be dubbed “The Honorable” for the rest of their lives, but they are not honorable.
In the end, the only thing we have in this life, as people and as a nation, is our honor. This Administration has grieviously tarnished our national honor, by their deeds and their attitudes. What the sergeants and privates did at Abu Ghraib–and, it must be mentioned, other places and other times, from the beginning of this war till now–wasn’t done in a vacuum. It was done because people from the bottom all the way to the top didn’t think it was a matter worthy of condemnation until the whole world knew about it.
That’s why there is no honor. And that’s why tonight, I weep silent tears of shame and rage at what was done in my name.
An excerpt. Read the rest.