[FOUNTAIN]Will Rumsfeld get it right?In 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon was annoyed by a 39-year-old aide. Donald Rumsfeld was the counselor to the president, then in his second year at the White House after serving four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Rumsfeld often picked on the president for dragging out the Vietnam War. Of Mr. Rumsfeld, President Nixon said, “At least Rummy is tough enough. He is a ruthless little bastard.” In 1971, Mr. Rumsfeld became White House Chief of Staff for President Gerald Ford. This time, his target was Henry Kissinger. In President Ford’s 1975 cabinet reshuffle, now called “The Halloween Massacre,” Mr. Kissinger was dismissed from the post of national security advisor, serving only as the secretary of state, and Mr. Rumsfeld was appointed as the secretary of defense. Mr. Rumsfeld’s public career has always been defined by his aggressiveness. However, he never lost in a political contest, just as when he was a wrestling champion in high school, college and in the Navy.
In 2001, Mr. Rumsfeld returned to the White House once again as the secretary of defense. His foremost aim was military transformation, or changing the world’s richest and most expansive military into a lighter, more nimble force. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the Iraq War were stages on which to experiment with the “Rumsfeld doctrine.” The lightning-fast invasions used cutting-edge weaponry and ended the wars very quickly. The Bush administration was left to deal with post-war reconstruction and peace-keeping. A torture scandal by U.S. servicemen in Iraq was also revealed. Despite criticism from the media and calls for resignation by retired generals, Mr. Rumsfeld remains in place. Mr. Rumsfeld is a cold-hearted man when it comes to national interests. During the Reagan administration, he was a conduit to Saddam Hussein. In 1998 Mr. Rumsfeld was assigned to overturn Mr. Hussein and successfully overthrew the dictator in the end. More recently, Mr. Rumsfeld sent a letter to Seoul that the United States would transfer wartime control of South Korean troops back to the Korean government in 2009. The offer contains the defense secretary’s intention to complete the transformation of the U.S. troops stationed in Korea while President Bush is in the White House. He argues that Korea has developed and can deal with North Korea. How will he respond if Seoul asks to postpone the transfer? If we consult the 154 Rumsfeld Rules, a list he contributed to the Wall Street Journal five years ago, the answer might be either of these two rules: “If in doubt, don’t,” and “If still in doubt, do what’s right.”
by Oh Young-hwan
The writer is a deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.