Rumsfeld’s return

He’s gone from the US Defense Department, but no one can forget former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man anti-war activists love to hate.

He’s gone from the US Defense Department, but no one can forget former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man anti-war activists love to hate.

Now, as part of his return to the private sector – he was named a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution a few months ago – Rumsfeld is accepting speaking invitations, including a "special keynote and Q&A session" planned at the Network Centric Warfare (NCW) 2008 show in DC on January 23.

For those lucky few, a private lunch with Rumsfeld will be offered that day by invitation only (sponsored by L-3 Communications).

The appointment to Hoover, which is part of Stanford University, has led to student and faculty protests, and hence a PR problem for the school. Rumsfeld clearly has become something of a pariah with the general public at the moment.

But resurrection of a controversial person’s reputation is a tricky thing – Robert McNamara will be forever vilified for his association with the Vietnam War, while Henry Kissinger, another Vietnam War overseer, is generally feted as a distinguished foreign affairs advisor.

Rumsfeld’s reputation is looking a lot more McNamara than Kissinger right now, though within the defense community it’s a bit more nuanced than that of a mere war monger. He was a driver of the US military’s transformation into a more tech-savvy force, for example. But for the moment, his reputation is apparently at least good enough to get a free lunch at NCW ’08.

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