As former Vice President Dick Cheney squares off against the Obama administration, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has up to this point been holding his powder as his critics have skewered him for what they believe is the arrogant, stubborn and authoritarian manner that lead to the mismanagement of the Iraq War. Interestingly enough at the Nixon Libary last night, Bush’s first appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the retired (and very non-partisan) General Richard Myers spoke glowingly of the previous Pentagon chief. According to Myers, Rumsfeld was the most intellectually curious official in cabinet meetings, pressing the rock-ribbed President to see all sides of an issue before any weight was thrown behind key national security decisions. Ben Domenech of The New Ledger similarly deflects against the effigial and very anti-intellectual opinions on Rumsfeld, and contrasts the SECDEF with the dense critics who hold them:
Since leaving office, Rumsfeld infamy has only grown in most corners of the mainstream press — he makes a very natural target, and he has mostly stayed quiet even when his former allies were using him as a scapegoat. But other stories show a more complex picture. I was surprised by reports that have appeared in recent years detailing how the SECDEF expressed significant doubts about the invasion of Iraq — as someone who opposed the Iraq war (I believed then as now that Iran, not Iraq, poses a greater threat), I never thought that Secretary Rumsfeld and I would have any real agreement on the matter. Now writing his memoirs, Rumsfeld’s office today is clothed with signed photographs, images, and awards from a lifelong career spent in the arena, stretching all the way back to photos taken with Ike during his first Congressional campaign, signed pictures of great men of the ages, of soldiers and citizens he’s met along the way.
The walls are full of these pictures and tokens. But of images like the ones Draper features, there are none. There is one reminder that you could call spiritual, however: burned scraps from the plane that struck the Pentagon on 9/11, unavoidable and out in front. If you want to know how Rumsfeld expresses his personal motivations, you need look no further.