interesting article on how it all went so wrong, and how history will remember 'The Don'.
A Warrior Lays Down His Arms
Donald Rumsfeld set out to transform the military. Things didn't quite work out as planned.
[COLOR=SlateGray"]Flying High: Rumsfeld in Baghdad in 2004
By John Barry and Michael Hirsh
Nov. 20, 2006 issue - There weren't many people in the Pentagon brave enough to give bad news to Donald Rumsfeld. Jim Roche, though, was one. The Air Force secretary and his boss shared Chicago roots and Washington ties going back 30 years—and, like Rummy, the white-haired Roche had made a lot of money in business. In the fall of 2002 it was becoming clear inside the Pentagon that George W. Bush intended to invade Iraq. A worried Roche dragooned the then Army secretary, Thomas White, to join him for a frank talk with Rumsfeld, according to a knowledgeable source who asked for anonymity because he was describing a private conversation. With some trepidation, the pair marched up to Rummy's elaborate dark-paneled office in the E-Ring, the power corridor of the Pentagon. "Don, you do realize that Iraq could be another Vietnam?" Roche asked. Rumsfeld, a political survivor of the Watergate era whose main goal was to exorcise the ghost of Vietnam forever—restoring American power and prestige in the world—was outraged at the very suggestion. "Vietnam? You think you have to tell me about Vietnam?" Rumsfeld sputtered. "Of course it won't be Vietnam. We are going to go in, overthrow Saddam, get out. That's it." Then he waved them out of his office.
Now Rumsfeld himself has been thrown out after six stormy years, a chastened if still-proud man who will spend the rest of his days grappling with the judgment of history. His tenure at the Pentagon is thick with irony. The squinty-eyed tough guy whom Bush once described as a "matinee idol," the podium wit who declared "I don't do quagmires," is now viewed as the author of one of the worst quagmires in American history. The "forward-leaning" ex-wrestler who wanted to project American strength abroad may now be blamed by historians for revealing the limits of American power—and weakening the nation's position in the critical Middle East.
When Rumsfeld arrived to take over the Pentagon for the second time in January 2001 he acted like a man on a mission. Rumsfeld came equipped with a glittering résumé: Princeton wrestling captain. Naval aviator. Congressman at 30. White House chief of staff at 42. Defense secretary at 43 (the youngest ever, way back in 1975). Fortune 500 CEO and turnaround specialist. And with 30 years of global experience, Rumsfeld had a clear vision for Defense. He wanted to draw down America's giant cold-war garrisons around the world and transform the U.S. military into a high-tech, "agile" force suited for expeditionary warfare around the globe.
Rumsfeld actually achieved a good part of this vision. He elevated the role and size of Special Forces, turning them into a separate worldwide command. He gave Special Operations—the global SWAT teams of the 21st century—the lead in the war against terrorism. He changed the way the Army and Navy operate worldwide, making both services more nimble. Finally, Rumsfeld began a profound shift of America's basic military approach to threats abroad, away from the old requirement of fighting three wars simultaneously (for example, in North Korea, Europe and the Mideast) and toward a new force organized to face unknowable contingencies.
But much of that transformational work may be forgotten in the history books. Instead, largely thanks to Iraq, Rumsfeld will likely go down as an erratic and arrogant manager who sullied America's reputation by allowing interrogation abuses at Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run detention centers abroad; who haughtily dismissed advice from U.S. generals and senators alike to put in enough troops (in part because he didn't want another Vietnam), and who preferred to deny the reality of the Iraqi insurgency rather than confront it. Bush, in announcing Rumsfeld's departure last week, called him "a superb leader in a time of change." But that is a distinctly minority view in Washington, where it is hard to find any defenders of Rumsfeld, either Democrat or Republican. "He will be seen as the Robert McNamara of this generation," says retired Lt. Gen. William Odom, referring to the Vietnam-era Defense chief who has spent the last 40 years trying live down the carnage that occurred on his watch.