November 9, 2006 | National Review Online

Symposium: The D.O.D. After Rumsfeld

When the nation went to war in Iraq in 2003 (with overwhelming popular support) and for a long time after that, Rumsfeld had rock-star status. With Abu Ghraib and his management of this millstone of an occupation, his star fell rapidly.

Some of what Rumsfeld gets blamed for, such as Abu Ghraib, really was his responsibility. But Rumsfeld gets blamed for lots of things he doesn't control. Above all, he gets blamed for the pain of a painful dilemma: what to do about Iraq. Those who have pilloried Rumsfeld from left and right without gaining academic consensus or popular support for their pet answer to that question will now have to face the spotlight.

One of the great benefits of historical perspective is that the reputations of important figures get separated from what people thought of them in their own time. So think of who he is. Flaws and all, Rumsfeld is a visionary with a great sense of history and a great devotion to this country. His tenure has been historic. He helped to end two terrible dictatorships and began a process of military transformation that will stay in motion long into the future. He served the president loyally, and in my opinion, he will be remembered for having served us well.

 Mario Loyola, a former consultant to the Department of Defense, is a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Read full symposium.