Despite the fact that figures had confirmed that the invasion of Iraq has actually made Iraq less safe, as well as increased the threat of terrorism, before actually doing so Donald Rumsfeld insisted he had never once considered resigning, and several times brushed off any criticism without offering any counterevidence to support his position. Donald Rumsfeld’s unwillingness to confront charges that he had made mistakes that have resulted in tragedy is a perfect example of how nothing more complicated than simple human pride can upset the delicate balance of the universe.
In his famous “Essay on Man” Alexander Pope indicates his belief that the universe is imperfect, but that as long as all parts work together and none pursue a part greater than they should order will be maintained. Alexander Pope writes that “All are but parts of one stupendous Whole,/Whose body Nature is, and God the soul” (I. l. 267). Later he advises that “And who but wishes to invert the laws/Of order, sins against th’Eternal Cause” (I. ll. 129-130). Screw Nostradamus, I think it was Alexander Pope who had the third eye into the future.
Donald Rumsfeld proved himself guilty of this kind of pride of placing himself above his station by giving the appearance that he is above judgment. Despite ample evidence he planned for the attack in Iraq unwisely by ignoring the advice of those with actual military experience-something Donald Rumsfeld himself lacks, remember-resulting in too few and ill-equipped troops, when he is confronted on the issue his dismissive judgment of his critics reflects exactly the kind of pride that Alexander Pope warns against those who would “Rejudge his justice, be the god of God./In pride, in reas’ning pride, our error lies” (I. l. 128).
One excellent example of how Donald Rumsfeld embraces Alexander Pope’s warning against pursuing a place above your station in the mechanics of the universe is his response when asked if he had actually read Bob Woodward’s book. Instead of merely admitting that he had not, Donald Rumsfeld said, “”Everybody seems to be saying that the things he said aren’t so. I wouldn’t know”. When this reply that is at once an admission of ignorance and also a statement of opinion on the very knowledge he just stated to be ignorant of is compared to Alexander Pope’s query “What can we reason but from what we know? (I. i. 2), it is clear that Rumsfeld views himself above the station of a mere man and capable of passing judgement on things about which he knows not.