The Times Online reports the calls by conservatices for Rummy’s head are growing. It cannot come fast enough. This man has overseen one of the greatest military policy blunders/tragedies in recent memory, and he did it in arrogant style to boot.

In a seemingly innocuous Thanksgiving message to readers last week, William Kristol, the neoconservative editor of The Weekly Standard magazine, slipped in a surprise demand for Rumsfeld’s dismissal.

“What remains to be done is to announce new leadership for the department of defence,” wrote Kristol. “This, surely, would be an important opportunity for a strong, Bush-doctrine-supporting outsider, someone who of course would be a team player, but someone who could also work with the military and broaden support for the president’s policy.”

Boiled down, this meant: almost anybody but Rumsfeld, whose performance has not always matched his swagger. His failure to install enough troops on the ground after last year’s invasion of Iraq has upset American generals and alienated supporters of the war.

“I am allergic to Rumsfeld,” said Ralph Peters, a former lieutenant-colonel and robust media champion of the war on terror. “We did a great thing in Iraq, but we did it very badly.

He is an extremely talented man but he has the tragic flaw of hubris. His arrogance is unbearable. My friends in uniform just hate him.”

The calls for Rumsfeld to be dismissed have intensified since the departure was announced of his cabinet rival, Colin Powell, the secretary of state. With the liberal-leaning Powell being the first to go, conservatives no longer see the need to hold back their opinions.

The defence secretary’s job security has not been enhanced by allegations that he lobbied to scupper the intelligence bill in Congress last week against President George W Bush’s wishes.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding