[FOUNTAIN]Rumsfeld’s fate affects KoreaPenetrating eyes and a boyish smile are the trademarks of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Behind the pleasant smile lies a poignant face. The 71-year-old secretary is driven by a near-religious belief in the greatness of America.
When U.S. President George W. Bush was furious at Osama bin Laden and the Taliban government of Afghanistan that had concealed him, Mr. Rumsfeld tried to convince him that the true target of American attack should be Saddam Hussein and Iraq. However, CIA chief George Tenet, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Vice President Dick Cheney did not share in Mr. Rumsfeld’s obsession with Iraq.
Having already served as a defense secretary under President Gerald Ford from 1975 to 1977, Mr. Rumsfeld returned to the Pentagon for his second stint with a clear vision of war. For the United States to remain the sole superpower, he believes that the United States should actively search and aggressively attack new enemies.
After returning to the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld merged the Strategic Command and the Space Command to revive President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” project. Through the combined system, Mr. Rumsfeld hopes to pursue the grand dream of a missile defense system and space weapons development.
He has categorized China and India as potential threats, and instead of reducing the number of ground troops, he has augmented the Naval and Air Force powers to reinforce mobility. To Mr. Rumsfeld, the meaning of war has changed, from a defensive reaction to a pre-emptive attack. His strategy focuses on “smart” wars, blitz tactics with overwhelming firepower, instead of a prolonged full-scale confrontation.
Adopting Mr. Rumsfeld’s war philosophy, Mr. Bush brought the war from Afghanistan to Iraq, where victory took only one month. Mr. Rumsfeld considers Pyeongyang as a similar target.
The Iraqi quagmire is embarrassing Mr. Rumsfeld, as guerrilla warfare continues to threaten U.S. forces in Iraq. The growing number of soldiers’ deaths are threatening Mr. Rumsfeld’s political status. Saddam Hussein is still on the loose. Before Mr. Rumsfeld left for his Seoul visit, the Democrats presented a resolution calling for his resignation. It is a personal crisis for Mr. Rumsfeld, and his political destiny can affect the Korean Peninsula’s security.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.