Rumsfeld, architect of Iraq war, says Obama hasn't yet justified Syria attack
August 29th, 2013
09:30 AM ET
9 years ago

Rumsfeld, architect of Iraq war, says Obama hasn't yet justified Syria attack

(CNN) – Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who along with President George W. Bush helped send the United States military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in an interview Wednesday the White House has yet to justify potential strikes in Syria.

And he sharply criticized President Barack Obama’s administration for allowing details about that potential military action to become public before any decisions have been made.

“I can’t imagine what they’re thinking, why they would want the Assad regime to have crystal clarity with respect to what they intend,” Rumsfeld said in an interview on the Fox Business Network.

Obama told the "PBS Newshour" on Wednesday that he hadn’t yet made a final decision about U.S. military action in Syria, though U.S. officials have been cited widely in news reports pointing to cruise missile attacks on military facilities as a likely American response to alleged chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime.

Acknowledging it was difficult to fully ascertain the administration’s thinking as an outsider, Rumsfeld maintained it was puzzling the amount of information that’s made its way to the public.

"The idea of demystifying for the enemy what you're going to do is mindless,” he said.

Rumsfeld served a secretary of defense from 2001-2006, a period that saw the U.S. begin wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said in the interview, however, that current statements from Obama and his aides haven’t met the threshold for intervention in Syria.

“There really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation,” he said. “When you think about what’s really important in that region – it’s Iran’s nuclear program and the relationship between Iran and Syria, the Assad regime, with respect to terrorists that go around killing innocent men, women and children, including Americans.”

He added that Secretary of State John Kerry, who left the U.S. Senate earlier this year for the top diplomatic post, had been “dealt a bad hand” by his predecessor Hillary Clinton and Obama, who he claimed had created a global leadership void.

“This administration has been in a withdrawal mode, an apology mode,” he said, adding: “That vacuum we’ve created is being filled by people that don’t have our values or interests.”

Filed under: Donald Rumsfeld • Syria
soundoff (636 Responses)
  1. Larry in Houston

    I didn't much care for dubya & Rumsfeld, but he's right on this one.....Obama doesn't know what to do.....and 'ol Joe doesn't either...I guess they are prioritizing the Lincoln memorial like it's the best thing since sliced bread, but in reality, they have no idea on being any type of leader, and it's too bad, but we don't have any leadership in this country, and haven't had, since Eisenhower. If I was putin, I would do what I want to do, as long as this country is the weakest in history

    August 29, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  2. S.B. Stein

    Rumsfeld doesn't really understand what is going on in the area anyhow because he and the rest of the George W. Bush administration didn't fully understand all the underlining history and problems in the area. The fact that they thought that our soldiers and marines would be greeted as liberaters was totally off base. It was welcome day one and then use of force after that against our military men and women.

    August 29, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    One decade later, Mr. Rumsfeld has yet to justify attacking Iraq. Considering that Bin Laden was supposedly holed up in the whatever they called it mountains, Bora Bora(?), invading Iraq was the epitomy of stupidity.

    Rumsfeld was, and still is, a man with something to prove after his "failure" to win the Vietnam War. I use the term failure losely because he was a failure only in his own mind and those around him, mainly fellow Republicans.

    August 29, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  4. Mary

    My God, this mindless wonder wants to tell the world we doesn't have reason to attack Syria when he and his administration attacked Iraq without a single reason. He needs to crawl back under the rock he slithered out from under.

    August 29, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. NameJT

    Translation- no oil interests

    August 29, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  6. Marie MD

    Who let this war criminal out of his Dracula coffin?
    If anyone should keep their mouths shut as to what our President should or shouldn't do it's this clown, cheney and shrub #43.
    The arrogance of this WMDs lying clown is bigger than the deaths they caused and are still causing in Iraq!

    August 29, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. sweebach

    geez, like Rumsfeld knows anything about JUSTIFICATION . . . Iraq was the most unjustified war in US history . . .

    August 29, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    This GOP goof Rumsfeld is nothing more then a war criminal who screwed up the whole Iraq war along with his stupid ambassador at the time and cost thousands of American lives.

    August 29, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  9. Terrence Healy

    REPUBLICAN HOT AIR out of a big windbag, was he justified in shooting his friend with a shotgun? Was he justified fabricating false evidence and then forcing the only African American on their staff to go read it to the world, even though they new it was a lie.

    August 29, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  10. derp

    The hypocrisy is astounding.

    This guy supported invading Iraq because they may have had a chemical weapons program, but does not believe Obama has made a case for action against Syria when it is very clear that they have already used their chemical weapons program.


    August 29, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Mushroom cloud, blah blah blah. This man needs to stand trial in the ICC at the Hague. Not to mention that he has absolutely NO credibility and shouldn't be giving his opinion to anyone.

    August 29, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  12. Jon

    Huh. It's almost as if the Obama administration doesn't intend to go through with the attack...

    August 29, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. TONE

    Do republicans think that the American people are imaginery people not real people? who is this piece of turd to make a statement like that, 10 years after they have not justify the iraq war.

    August 29, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. Andrew Smith

    Pot meet kettle

    August 29, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. sundownr

    Really Rumsfeld. You are slipping. Of all the people who have defended liberty you speak like a fink. Should Assad gas Washington, you would go to hell and back for revenge. Even for England or Canada you would be ready to go, but for the Syrian people you say no. What is it with you Rumsfeld. Are you deft or just plain stupid.

    August 29, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. Data Driven


    In the real world, you're right - Rumsfeld has no credibility. But in the Beltway, infested by neoconservative think tanks and a media still transfixed and intimidated by them, he's still a hero.

    August 29, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. Insight

    Rumsfeld must shut his mouth and keep quite. You and your boss ruined this country

    August 29, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. sfeadmin

    What Rumsfeld is trying to say is that the truth isn't strong enough... the Obama administration needs to concoct an outrageous lie in order to sell this invasion to the public... and of course, he would know.

    August 29, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  19. fibsernum

    Sounds like Rumsfeld is afraid Haliburton won't get their share of the war profits.
    President Obama needs a lot of thought, prayer, counsel with advisors and careful planning. What he does not need is Rumsfeld's advice.

    August 29, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. Gargelygoop

    And cruise missile attacks on military facilities as a likely American response to alleged chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime.

    ALLEGED WEAPONS USE = CRUISE MISSLE ATTACKS, Anyone else see a problem with the causal/effect in this senerio or are we really just talking a pro-Iranian regime with WMD. Can't have a re-unification of the persian/otto empire. That would leave the majority of the worlds oil reserves in the hands of Islam and Israel in an even larger kill box. Ok I guess nothing will be changing for them. Just the OIL thing again.

    August 29, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. Media Madness

    So you can't disagree with WHAT is said and attach WHO said it instead? Point is.. WHY is it ok for this administration to just attack a country for no reason at all? At least the Bush war has Congres backing it up (wrongly or not). First Libya now Syria. Isn't this EXACTLY what we disliked about the Bush wars. The idea we can and will just enforce our justice as we see fit anywhere and everywhere on this planet if it suits us? I don't give this man a pass for his wrongs but I see the words that I've wondered too. How is this attack OK? WHY are we butting in? More troops go to, more troops to die. Do you REALIZE the cuts that our current administration has done to the military? Do you personally have people overseas? Ask around. They are bartering for soap! Our troops are suffering. But we aren't seeing it because the Media isn't showing it. Ironically, THAT is what started the Vietnam protests.... brave journalists showing us what was REALLY going on. Not what the administration wanted us to see. Now, we just don't care? Our troops are underfunded and yet we are about to attack a country? Stop letting the media TELL you how to think. Its simple math, Congress must approve a war, Presidents can't just order an attack, we shouldn't give them that power!

    August 29, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. Organic1

    It's another attempt from the GOP to hi-jack the top office, same song – different verse.

    August 29, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  23. smendler

    For Rumsfeld, "yet to justify potential strikes in Syria" = "yet to show how we can derive profits"

    August 29, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. patriot

    Look who has just crawled out from the woodword? this guy has no right to talk about it given what happened 10 years ago.
    however he is right on one thing. why the hell are these unnamed admin officials blathering to the media about all their attack plans over the last few days? it is totally ridiculous.

    August 29, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    Wow. I will give Rumsfeld this, he has a lot of chutzpah accusing someone else of not having justification for taking action in Syria. And who decided the word " architect" describes Rumsfeld's approach to Iraq? It was a whirlwind of improvisation, with troops being forced to add additional armor to their vehicles as protection from IEDs, and not enough troops to effectively police the country. His lack of preparation and understanding of Iraq led to needless deaths and injuries. An architect takes a cautious, methodical approach to designing something, not throwing things together at the last minute and basing the reasons on wishful thinking. We have proof Assad is using chemical weapons on his own people, unlike the " evidence" Rumsfeld used.

    August 29, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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