Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told MSNBC's Chris Matthews Thursday that he wasn't asked whether America should go to war with Iraq. Rumsfeld's comments confirm what Bob Woodward had written in his latest book. And as we learned last week, Secretary of State Powell's advice was also not sought by the commander of chief on the eve of war.
As you all know, I support this war. I support the president. I support the premise that the only way we can stop terrorism is by promoting democracy and free markets in the Middle East. And that’s how we are going to ultimately win the war on terror. But I wonder, why have a secretary of defense if you are not going to even ask him whether America should launch the biggest military operation in 30 years?
Why have a decorated general who was a chairman of the joint chiefs as secretary of state if you aren't going to ask for his input on whether war with Iraq is a wise decision? And why have a Cabinet at all if, as Paul O'Neill has suggested, these members are nothing more than window dressing to provide cover to the president‘s designs?
This isn't about a particular policy: I still think the president was right to take out Saddam Hussein. Instead, Rummy's remarks paint a more general, a more disturbing portrait of a president who is isolated in the Oval Office, keeping counsel with few outside of Dick Cheney and God.
Now, though I count myself a big fan of both, I am still concerned by just how few people this president seems to have consulted before launching such an extraordinarily important operation. In Congress, I didn't launch wars, but I was faced with tough choices. I was always smart enough to know that I wasn‘t smart enough to go it alone. Whenever I saw a leader in Congress who thought he was, I was very troubled.
And if it‘s troubling for a congressman to go it alone, imagine how troubling it is when we have a president who seems to be doing the same thing.