There is no honor.
I saw Don Rumsfeld’s testimony today, and there is no honor. Certainly, the other men present at the witness table did not acquit themselves well, but in the end, it comes down to Rumsfeld and the President. And there is no honor.
“Who was in charge? What was the chain of command?” Simple questions, these. Asked by John McCain, an honorable man. Simple questions, deserving of a simple answer. But the simple answer never made it past the lips of the Secretary. There were evasions and dodges, a dance of deceit, if you will.
No one was in charge, it seems–because that way, the only people who suffer punishment are the sergeants and privates in the photographs and videos. And as for the chain of command, well…uh…well, that was left behind somewhere in the recesses of the Pentagon. And there is no honor in that.
Who is responsible for America’s abuse of Iraq’s prisoners of war? Is it our king, George W. Bush? Is it one of his ministers, perhaps Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld? Or are the individual knights and pawns responsible for their own actions? Shakespeare would answer, I think, that, though the responsibility is shared, the greater portion of it rests with the president, who sent these men and women into an unnecessary war.
Soldiers want to believe in the justice of their cause and of their commander. How can they want otherwise? But read the transcript of Rumsfeld’s Q&A with the troops in Iraq. Read the Army Times editorial of May 17: “This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top.”
There are more Williamses, at this point, than Bateses in American uniform.
“Is it possible it won’t work?” Rumsfeld asked rhetorically at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. “Yes,” he answered. And yes is the all-too-evident answer. The ignored warnings of friends such as Norman Schwarzkopf and allies such as Hosni Mubarak were right. America is losing the war. And for the king, the heavy reckoning is about to begin.