Sunday, November 12, 2006


Since his resignation this past Wednesday, one day after the fateful mid-term elections, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been the subject of innumerable reports in both the mainstream and alternative news. Not surprisingly, most of the articles describe Rumsfeld as "the architect" of the Iraq War and give the impression that Americans are glad to see him go, even if his doing so promises little in the way of real reconciliation in the Middle East.

Only a few of the pieces, however, touched on the many similarities between Rummy and one of his predecessors, Robert McNamara, the eighth Secretary of Defense, who served under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and approached the war in Vietnam in much the same way Rumsfeld did our interference in Iraq. Strategy is mere number-crunching for a businessman turned warlord, and the many miscalculations of these banker-commanders are rooted in a fundamental moral misunderstanding: war is not an equation and human lives are not variables.

There are apparent differences between the two men, however. Whereas McNamara now bemoans his mistakes and searches in vain for some explanation of what went wrong (he still doesn't seem capable of accepting direct responsibility), Rumsfeld waves off any hint of contrition. Instead he insists that history will frame our efforts in Iraq as a great success. I do hope he's right, but my Magic 8 Ball and the lessons of past colonial powers suggest otherwise.

At any rate, none of this is any more interesting than the spiels about Rummy on every other blog out there, but the painting below is a more unusual send-off! Kurt Weinhold painted this portrait of Rumsfeld - "Man with Radio (Homo sapiens)" - in 1929, three years before his subject was born. As a good friend of mine wrote when he first sent me this image, in November of 2005, "this might actually be proof that members of this administration are, in fact, inhuman minions of evil." That's right, matter what country you live in, or what year, Rummy will be listening. Sweet dreams.

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