Rumsfeld Unapologetic About Iraq


rumsfeldFormer Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is conceding “it’s possible” that the biggest mistake of the Iraq war came in drawing down troops too quickly.

“In a war, many things cost lives,” Rumsfeld said in an interview with ABC News airing Monday in advance of the release of his memoir on his long career in public service. President George W. Bush has said that bringing some service members home too soon was “the most important failure in the execution of the war,” a position Rumsfeld was reluctant to fully endorse.

“I don’t have enough confidence to say that that’s right. I think that it’s possible,” he said. “We had [an] enormous number of troops ready to go in. They had – we had off-ramps, if they weren’t needed.” He added: “It’s hard to know. You know, the path you didn’t take is always smoother.”

Rumsfeld’s comments came in his first TV interview since 2006, and echo much of what he wrote in “Known and Unknown,” in bookstores Tuesday, in which he recounts his time serving Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. He served as Defense secretary and chief of staff to Gerald Ford and again led the Pentagon during the second Bush presidency.

Rumsfeld was unapologetic about his leadership of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I think the world’s a better place with Saddam Hussein gone and with the Taliban gone and the al Qaeda out of Afghanistan,” he said.

As in his book, Rumsfeld was forthcoming with his criticism of public figures, including his fellow Bush Cabinet members.

Rumsfeld said he was “kind of disappointed” in President George H.W. Bush, whom he thought “decided he wanted to leave people with the impression that he didn’t want to go to the CIA [in the Ford administration]. And that someone made him go there. And it was probably Rumsfeld or something.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell “did not, in my view, do a good job of managing the people under him,” Rumsfeld said. “There was a lot of leaking out of the State Department, and the president knew it. And it was unhelpful. And most of it ended up making the State Department look good. We didn’t do that in the Pentagon. I insisted we not do it.”

Powell’s successor at the State Department, Condoleezza Rice, who first served as Bush’s national security adviser, came off as inexperienced in his view. “She’d been an academic. And, you know, a lot of academics like to have meetings,” Rumsfeld said. “And they like to bridge differences and get people all to be happy.”

{Capitol News Company, LLC/}



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