Evil Right-Wing Fantasy: what if Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Vice President Dick Cheney resigned and they just switched jobs? The howls of horror would be almost as hilarious to hear as those that resulted from Turkey-Gate.
My jokes are to lighten the mood a little, not to diminish the seriousness of the abuse “allegations” in the Coalition POW camp Abu Ghraib, however. Donald Rumsfeld definitely made a mistake by not telling the president the extent of the abuses there. No ‘buts.’ Never let your boss be surprised. You always keep your superior advised of incidents as serious as these appear to be.
Is this mistake a firing offense? Yes. But if President Bush decides not to do so—which it appears he has—what is lost? Who will praise the Bush Administration for the termination of a demonstrably competent—but not perfect—SecDef? The Democrats? Whatever. The Islamic Street? Triple whatever. Unless Mr. Rumfeld did, sanctioned or covered up the crimes or allowed the accused to continue to perpetrate their acts or to walk, or set policy in motion facilitating the crimes, his offense doesn't merit the hysteria coming from the other party. And it is my belief that there is a considerable portion of the Islamic world that will hate us no matter what we do. After all, had we invaded any Islamic country when 9/11 occured?
Will the sacrifice of Donald Rumsfeld’s job on the altar of….can’t think of what altar it would be…anyway, would the SecDef getting the boot solve any problems that aren’t already being solved? The prison guards were removed and were being investigated four months ago. Criminal charges have been filed. The Iraqis have been released and—hopefully—will be given some form of restitution. One man (registration required) says that he doesn’t think that all Americans are like the ones who abused him and that he wouldn’t mind coming to the US (hopefully not for a little payback). President Bush has done penance before two interviewers for Arab television stations.
In short, can anything be gained by the “resignation” of Donald Rumsfeld? I say nothing can be. The Democrats, emboldened, will find something else to get the administration on. Granted, some heat is deserved. But GIs, like the rest of humanity, have been committing crimes, large and small—and at lower rates than the rest of the nation--and military authorities have been quietly ensuring that justice was done for some time before this uproar and all the civilian oversight in the world won't stop that from happening. (You want a perfectly obedient military? Build android soldiers. Or addict the human ones to some opiate.) The pictures are the only reason that the idea of Mr. Rumsfeld’s resignation is being bandied about.
If the pictures didn’t exist or had never come into the public eye, what would not be happening right now that should be? People would be clucking their tongues and would want to know if the wheels of military justice were turning. Satisfied that they were, most would MoveOn. The story would be pretty incendiary to start with. However, the pictures make it nuclear. Perhaps CBS calculated that this would happen.
I’m being generous.
I think that a Rumsfeld resignation would worsen things for war prosecution purposes. Not political purposes, but war purposes. Justice is being administered, apologies are being tendered. Rolling over on one's back, however, would be lethal, figuratively and literally.
UPDATE: Greyhawk has the timeline of events leading up to the media exposure of the abuse photos.