By Caitlin Johnstone
Iraq war architect Donald Rumsfeld has died. Not in a prison cell in The Hague, not murdered by bombs or bullets, but peacefully in his home, surrounded by loved ones, a week and a half shy of his 89th birthday.
The imperial media are giving their fallen master a king’s tribute, with headlines describing the psychopathic war criminal as “a cunning leader“, “a man of honor and conviction“, or simply as “Former defense secretary at helm of Iraq, Afghanistan wars“.
The cancerous Washington Post, who just the other day mocked the life of the late antiwar hero Mike Gravel with an obituary branding him the “gadfly senator from Alaska with flair for the theatrical,” describes the child killer Rumsfeld as the “influential but controversial Bush defense secretary” in its headline about his death.
The New York Times wasn’t much better. Take the headline “Mike Gravel, Unconventional Two-Term Alaska Senator, Dies at 91 — He made headlines by fighting for an oil pipeline and reading the Pentagon Papers aloud. After 25 years of obscurity, he re-emerged with a quixotic presidential campaign.” Compare this to the headline “Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary During Iraq War, Is Dead at 88 — Mr. Rumsfeld, who served four presidents, oversaw a war that many said should never have been fought. But he said the removal of Saddam Hussein had ‘created a more stable and secure world.’”
There’s been criticism as well, of course; online sentiments about Rumsfeld’s death have not been nearly as worshipful and hagiographic as they’ve been toward other disgusting war whores like John McCain. But in the end all that matters is that he lived a long, full life, without ever having faced even the slightest single consequence for the horrors he unleashed upon our world; without even so much as sustaining any meaningful damage to his reputation.
This despite the fact that it’s been public knowledge for years that Rumsfeld began orchestrating the unforgivable invasion of Iraq within hours of the 9/11 attacks and told numerous lies in order to set that invasion in motion. He also oversaw the intervention in Afghanistan which he and his Bush administration cohorts had been planning before 9/11, beginning a decades-long occupation about which the public has been pervasively lied to from the very beginning by US officials in general and by Rumsfeld in particular. (But remember kids, only crazy conspiracy theorists question the official narrative about 9/11.)
When we are little, we are taught that we live in a nation of laws, where bad guys are thrown in prison by the good guys who are in charge of things. Because our mental programming continues for the rest of our lives in the form of mass-scale propaganda designed to manufacture consent for the status quo, most of us tend to hold onto this childish model of the world to some extent throughout adulthood.
In reality, exactly zero percent of the world’s worst people are in prison, but some of the best people are. The fact that Donald Rumsfeld lived a long life of freedom while Julian Assange wastes away in Belmarsh Prison proves the world doesn’t work the way we were taught in school. The very worst bad guys are not put in prison by the good guys who run things, because the very worst bad guys are the ones who run things.
The system isn’t designed to protect us from society’s worst, it’s designed to protect society’s worst from us. It’s designed to keep us turning the gears of industry without looking around and noticing that we’re all getting fucked in the ass by an alliance of plutocrats and security state insiders who only care about power and money. It’s designed to keep us too busy and propagandized to use the power of our numbers to take back what the bastards have stolen from us, and to make sure there’s enough guns on their side to kill us all dead if we try.
Donald Rumsfeld was all the worst things about our world. He perfectly embodied the corrupt, bloodthirsty, ecocidal, omnicidal, oppressive, exploitative, deceitful status quo that is driving humanity toward extinction. The US-centralized empire is Donald Rumsfeld. It might as well have his face and his name.
Don’t let his passing fool you: Donald Rumsfeld is dead, but he is also as alive as ever. He lives on in the continued violence he helped initiate in the Middle East. In the death and destruction rained down by the US and its allies in the name of preserving a unipolar world order that none of us ever asked for. In the dying gasps of starving children under imperial blockades in Yemen and Venezuela. In the thousands of US military bases encircling our planet like a noose. In the war ships and missiles pivoting toward China in preparation for a long-anticipated confrontation which should terrify us all.
Unless we can purge from our cells everything within us that resembles Donald Rumsfeld, there is no future for Homo sapiens on this planet. We must evolve beyond everything he stood for, as individuals, as a society, and as a species, and move into a peaceful and collaborative relationship with each other and with our ecosystem.