[Donald] Rumsfeld was the worst secretary of defense in American history. Being newly dead shouldn’t spare him this distinction. [ . . . ] Rumsfeld was the chief advocate of every disaster in the years after September 11. Wherever the United States government contemplated a wrong turn, Rumsfeld was there first with his hard smile—squinting, mocking the cautious, shoving his country deeper into a hole. His fatal judgment was equaled only by his absolute self-assurance. He lacked the courage to doubt himself. He lacked the wisdom to change his mind. [ . . . ]
Rumsfeld started being wrong within hours of the [9/11] attacks and never stopped. He argued that the attacks proved the need for the missile-defense shield that he’d long advocated. He thought that the American war in Afghanistan meant the end of the Taliban. He thought that the new Afghan government didn’t need the U.S. to stick around for security and support. He thought that the United States should stiff the United Nations, brush off allies, and go it alone. He insisted that al-Qaeda couldn’t operate without a strongman like Saddam. He thought that all the intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was wrong, except the dire reports that he’d ordered up himself. He reserved his greatest confidence for intelligence obtained through torture. He thought that the State Department and the CIA were full of timorous, ignorant bureaucrats. He thought that America could win wars with computerized weaponry and awesome displays of force.
It’s easy to heap scorn on dead “Great Men” while simultaneously ignoring all the dozens or hundreds or thousands of yes-men and enablers and hangers on they need to make their shtick work. It’s not like Rumsfeld was using Jedi mind tricks to brainwash everyone into buying into his obvious garbage; he was a symptom of the disease that is American foreign policy, not the cause of it.
Still. He was pretty fucking terrible, so . . .