Wired has a review.
Who better to impart life lessons than the only defense secretary in
U.S. history to screw up two wars at once? True to confident form,
that’s what Donald Rumsfeld attempts in his new book on leadership, Rumsfeld’s Rules. He actually has good advice — so much that you really wish he would have taken some of it at the Pentagon.
“If you expect people to be in on the landing, include them in the
takeoff” is good advice. “When negotiating, never feel that you are the
one who must fill every silence” is great advice. “We cannot ensure success, but we can deserve it” isn’t exactly advice,
but it’s the kind of thing that gets you fired up to ace that meeting
or take that hill, which is probably why George Washington said it in
the first place.
But then there’s the onslaught of irony that comes from any advice book
written by a man whose name has become synonymous in defense circles
with Epic Fail. “Those who think that they know, but are mistaken, and
act upon their mistakes, are the most dangerous people to have in
charge” is a pull quote in Rumsfeld’s Rules attributed to
Margaret Thatcher. It’s also a serviceable epitaph for Rumsfeld’s tenure
at the Pentagon during a time when the Bush administration elected to
invade Iraq based on (to be charitable) mistaken premises, diverting
resources from the war against al-Qaida, ignoring an incubating
insurgency in Afghanistan, and ultimately mismanaging all three efforts.
When dealing with the press, Rumsfeld cautions, never put out misleading
information. “During the Bush administration, we took care that the
information we put out was accurate,” except apparently if it was about
Saddam Hussein allying with al-Qaida or coming on the verge of a nuclear
bomb or possessing stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
I don't see myself buying Rummy's Rules any time soon. If, however, you do, please pass along some more of his bon mots.