The resignation of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on November 8, 2006 raised questions about whether his leaving would herald meaningful shifts in the American involvement in the Iraq War, and perhaps even presage some fresh thinking about the American war on terror.
With respect to Iraq War, it seems as if Rumsfeld's leaving may represent readiness for a policy shift. It seems quite clear that the Democratic win, and the deep dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq it represented, will embolden the Bush administration to pursue some version of military disengagement, if possible.
Policy shifts in the war on terror are a murkier matter, and will evolve more slowly, if at all. There will certainly be no change on the ground, in areas of U.S. engagment in the foreseeable future. As Col. Tom Collins, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, responded today: "The global war on terror continues in Afghanistan, and for the troops here, there's really no change in their day-to-day job."
And yet, many members of Congress expressed the desire for some kind of policy change in the war on terror when they commented on Rumsfeld's departure on November 8th. What they didn't mention was what kind of change they want, or show that they know what we want.If Americans want to have a say in how the war on terror is prosecuted, broad and deep shifts must begin to take place among usthe electorateand among our elected officials. And we should have a say: at stake are our armed services, our tax dollars, the allocation of our financial and social resources, and ultimately, the role we hope the United States will have in world affairs long into the future.
What We Can Do To Affect Policy: