Donald Rumsfeld, patriot

Among the many distinctive expressions Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has offered as gifts to the media is the following:  'I don't do quagmires,' referring to the mantra—like repetition by some war critics that Iraq has become a quagmire.

The media, however, especially its Official Rumsfeld—Hating Clique, remains mired in the viciously viscous putrid muck of all—consuming loathing of the Secretary of Defense.

That same media currently has its puerile knickers in a twist about President Bush awarding Tommy Franks, Paul Bremer and George Tenet the Medal of Freedom.  Or, as liberal columnist Richard Cohen, speaking for many media colleagues, calls it, 'the Medal of Failure.' 

His critics hold him to standard of omniscience and infallibility, denouncing him for failing to predict every tactical and strategic response imaginable. The enemy's resort to road—side improvised explosive devices should have been anticipated, they complain, and all the Humvees should have been armored, a process that would have had to have begun at a time when they were warning of a long war with Saddam, mass starvation, and tens of thousands of body bags coming home.

From the day Rumsfeld took office, the Hate Clique has been trying to pin their own medal of failure on the man responsible for this country's defense.  What's more important than America's security?  'Why,' they chorus, 'destroying and bringing down that evil man, of course.'

How many of these muck dwellers know that Rumsfeld, a former Naval aviator,  is a Medal of Freedom recipient himself?  President Gerald R. Ford presented it to him in 1977 with the commendation: 'Donald Rumsfeld has served his country with rare distinction as a naval officer, legislator, diplomat, Counselor to the President, and the Secretary of Defense.  As United States Ambassador to NATO, he brought a new level of understanding and cooperation to our relations with our oldest allies.  Under his superb leadership as Secretary of Defense, the security of the United States was preserved and strengthened.'

Twenty—four years later, Donald Rumsfeld was sworn in, again, as Secretary of Defense.  During those years he led what might be called an active life.

He served as President Reagan's special Middle East envoy, National Commission on Public Service member, National Economic Committee member, Commission on US/Japan member, Commission on Ballistic Missile Threat to the US member, US Trade Deficit Review Commission member, etc.

In private life, Donald Rumsfeld has served on the board of directors of several large corporations, was chairman of the Salomon Smith Barney International Advisory Board and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of G.D. Searle and also ofGeneral Instrument Corporation.

Since 2001 Donald Rumsfeld, the patriot, has focused his awesome executive and administrative skills on transforming the US military and the Pentagon's embedded bureaucracy.  It is doubtful that in all his bouts as high school and college and US Navy wrestler, he ever encountered so formidable a foe as DoD's hidebound, turf—centric denizens.  This is the same Donald Rumsfeld who remained at his post in the Pentagon during the 9/11 attack, who demonstrated once again the courage, determination and indomitable will of a true leader.

In his remarks on the swearing in of Donald H. Rumsfeld as the 21st Secretary of Defense on January 26, 2001, President Bush said: ' In swearing in Don Rumseld, we have just sworn in a leader of exceptional strength, ability and vision.  Don and I have set three clear goals to guide American defense policy.  First, we will strengthen the bond of trust between the American people and those who wear our Nation's uniform...Second, we will work to defend our people and our allies against growing threats...we will confront the threats of a new century.  Third, we will begin creating the military of the future...' After summarizing Rumsfeld's remarkable career Pres. Bush concluded: This is an exceptional history of service and Don Rumsfeld is an exceptional man, with integrity and honesty as a cornerstone of his foundation.

Since then, Afghanistan and Iraq have been liberated.  The global war on terror has been conducted successfully.  The US military is on its way to being transformed into a 21st Century force.  Most Americans admire that military and the core American values it represents. And I think that, like those Soldiers at the close of the recent Q&A session with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld , most Americans would now rise and give that patriot a standing ovation. 

John B. Dwyer is a military historian