Posted: May 25th, 2022
Public administrators now play an increasingly prominent role in policy decision-making. This is to the point where their names and likenesses become inadvertently attached by the media to a policy and its implications. A current case in point would be Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the role he plays in shaping America’s policy towards Iraq. Due to the media’s focus on his opinions regarding that policy, the general public has come to identify him as one of the individuals most responsible for developing and supporting it.
The war in Iraq had always been a contentious issue for both the U.S. And the world since before its inception. Now the situation in postwar Iraq has become the latest hot topic for debate. It continues to cause political battles to be fought along party lines between American policymakers in the Bush administration and those in Congress. The main issue now is in regard to how much longer the U.S. military should remain in Iraq and how well it could stabilize the country before leaving.
The major players within the U.S. government who have helped the president formulate the Iraq policy are Vice President Dick Cheney, former National Security Advisor (and future Secretary of State) Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and of course Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The State Department, Department of Defense, and CIA have been the agencies most involved with formulating and supporting the policy on Iraq since before the war. Secretary Rumsfeld and his agency have played an especially critical part in implementing the policy itself.
All the figures that were involved in formulating the Iraq policy were seen as the hawkish elements of the administration, with the possible exception of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Rumsfeld was seen as being particularly hawkish. He was often found holding opposing viewpoints regarding Iraq policy from those of Secretary of State Powell. As can be seen his viewpoints eventually won out and played an important role in the formulation of the policy.
Soon after the policy was implemented, it polarized lawmakers and the general public. In the past, U.S. policy on postwar Iraq came under intense scrutiny both from within the U.S. And from around the world. Domestic scrutiny occurred due to the immense difficulties the U.S. military was facing there even after the war. Postwar insurgencies contributed to increasing numbers of U.S. military casualties, and the defense agency’s budget was quickly rising to cover the costs of war.
International scrutiny came about after media attention focused on the state of U.S. military prisons, such as Abu Ghraib, holding Iraqis. All these factors led to much criticism and opposition towards Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his Iraq policy. Calls for his resignation were being made, especially during the Abu Ghraib scandal, by policymakers in Congress. Rumsfeld’s position in the eyes of the people changed drastically from the time when he was being praised for his handling of Afghanistan to when he began to be criticized and ridiculed for his handling of postwar Iraq.
Now as George W. Bush enters his second term in office, he is in the midst of deciding how his Cabinet should be reorganized. According to recent news articles on the topic, Bush wanted Rumsfeld to remain as defense secretary. This revealed the level of confidence Bush has towards Rumsfeld’s handling of Iraq. Rumsfeld, for his part, will not change the U.S. military situation in Iraq; he wants to continue its presence there. Thus, this issue will continue to play out as a contentious debate between policymakers in Congress and the administration.
Congressional Democrats will observe how successfully the administration can get Iraqis ready for elections in January 2005. They will also observe how it handles the aftermath of the prison scandal as it continues to investigate and prosecute those involved in that. The success or failure of both these endeavors will be factors towards deciding whether the overall policy on Iraq was successful or not. If the U.S. cannot leave Iraqis to take over their country’s affairs soon, major fallout could occur between the administration and policymakers in Congress, as well as affect public opinion both within the U.S. And around the world.
Collateral issues that have been raised bear direct relationships to the main issue discussed here. One such issue involves how the U.S. military could be modernized, which Rumsfeld has promised to address in his new term. The current state of the U.S. military has made it incapable of handling guerrilla warfare and terrorist attacks. Thus, Rumsfeld’s main concern for this term, besides being Iraq, is to significantly enhance the military’s capabilities.
One other collateral issue involves how much U.S. operations in Iraq will affect those in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld will continue to stretch the U.S. military’s capabilities in both countries, and lawmakers are concerned over how much more time, energy, and resources these endeavors will take up. Also, as long as the U.S. military is unable to leave Iraq, lawmakers and the public will continue to dispute the level of importance given to Iraq over Afghanistan, as Iraq has not been proven to serve as a haven for terrorists during Saddam’s rule, as opposed to Afghanistan.
The issue surrounding postwar Iraq is symptomatic of concerns regarding overall U.S. counter terrorist measures. Political concerns deal with how well defined such measures are and how quickly and effectively they could be implemented. The war in Iraq, as an example of these broader measures, demonstrated the confusion regarding what the war on terror exactly entailed. Questions were raised after the war as to how it related to the overall war on terror, especially since none of the reasons justifying it were found to be true, such as the weapons of mass destruction claims and Saddam’s supposed ties to Al-Qaeda.
Its implementation has also led to questions over how effectively the U.S. could rid the world of terror. Stabilizing postwar Iraq has turned out to be much more difficult than expected what with the underestimation of the postwar insurgency and the ineffectiveness of the interim government to win the devotion of the Iraqi people.
Broader social concerns regarding U.S. counter terrorist measures involve how successfully and readily the U.S. government can eliminate terrorists around the world and how effectively it could protect its own borders from attacks. The U.S. war in Iraq has revealed the awesome military power of the U.S. In quickly subduing its enemies during war. The continuing postwar insurgencies, however, reveal that the U.S. military will have to undergo major upgrading in order to meet these new challenges.
The ability of the U.S. To prevent any future attacks from occurring within it, are now being questioned by Americans. They fear that instead of decreasing these attacks, the Iraq war may actually cause more terrorists to attempt such attacks since the war has been increasingly unpopular throughout the world. Concerns such as these over Iraq policy are indicative of how the U.S. counter terrorist measures are viewed overall by the American public.
As it can be seen, Secretary Rumsfeld has now become a prominent figure of importance in the shaping of U.S. policy towards Iraq. He is being held solely responsible for its implementation and results. The success or failure of this policy will permanently be linked to him and thus affect how he will be perceived in history.
Sammon, B. (2004, Dec. 4). Rumsfeld agrees to stay on as defense chief. The Washinton Times. Retrieved Dec. 4, 2004 from the Washington Times Website.
Bush comments on Thompson terror worries.( 2004, Dec. 4). The New York Times.
Retrieved Dec. 4, 2004 from the New York Times Website. .
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