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. Rumsfeld fan

    Rumsfeld is a very wise man this admin wishes they had someone of his experience. just read this mans history of pubic service and you will stop the negative uneducated remarks. very great man

    August 29, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Nathan

    If anyone should know about not making the case its this war criminal. This moron has no credibility at all with respect to deciding when force is needed. i guess now that he has stopped looking in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction and proof of the foothold Al Queda hadin Iraq before Hussein was killed he feels he has time to second guess the President. Of I forgot we went into Iraq because the Kurds were gassed a decade earlier.

    August 29, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "A noble hope indeed, but one with 6000+ years of precedent against it. I'm not a Bible thumper, but there's a lot of Old Testament prophecy that's eerily similar to what's playing out here. Makes me a tad uneasy. I hope for the best."

    I don't follow the Rapture doctrines myself, but I agree there IS Old Testament prophecy that is eerily similar and your comment follows many discussions my husband and I have every now and again on the subject. He would agree with you on your on feeling of uneasiness. Indeed, he DOES agree with your opinion. I spent this past winter rereading the Old Testament, and to be truthful I had to put my bible down many a day and take a walk to just clear my head. As of yet, I'm just not sure...

    And as you do, I also hope for the best.

    August 29, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Bob

    It this time of conflicts (war is declared) No president should be able to attack another country without talking to congress unless WE are attacked. Now the President cannot talk to all of Congress and give classified information because before he finished talking to them everything would be on the news. SO how about 3 from the House and 3 from the Senate (6) These folks are told everything (all classified infor) and make the decision with the President getting a vote. ALSO, now you have only a handful of folks to investigate if the information gets to the press. Once you ID the person who talked this person is charged with a felony, thrown out of Congress and his/her name made public.

    August 29, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. WV Gleeman

    Wow Rummy. Not only are you the one person that doesn't deserve an opinion on the matter but when you find people that are willing to listen you just pull from the Hillary/Obama bad playbook. I expected more from you for some reason. Fool me once I guess...

    August 29, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. Uncle Sham

    I haven't listened to one word Dumbsfeld has said since 9/11. I simply hear Charlie Brown's teacher "Whaa whaa, whaa whaa".

    August 29, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. Ken L.

    It's a complicated situation, but Rumsfeld, the worst Secy of Defense in U.S. history, should keep his mouth shut. Bush 43 has the sense to lay low. Rummy and Cheney should do the same. His opinions count for NOTHING. He may make a point or two, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    August 29, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Let me tell you how this spin works. The Republicans put pro Syria people like John McCain out front to support Obama on action. Then they get Gingrich and a former military person, Rumsfield, to criticize the President. If it goes right, the republicans are covered, if it goes wrong, they say I told you so. The Dems do it too but not like the Republicans.

    August 29, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. Dave

    One war criminal liar saying that another war criminal liar has not properly put his lies together yet to carry out another lie...that's rich...

    August 29, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. Unbelievable and Unacceptable

    Mr. Rumsfeld states that President Obama must identify specific threats to our national interests to justify taking military action against Syria. Apparently since Mr. Rumsfeld left public office he has renounced the cornerstone Neocon Cult principle of preemptive war. Or has he??

    August 29, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. justfacts

    wait I'm supposed to take a man seriously for saying Obama hasn't justified going to Syria, when we went to war for Iraq for "WMD" ...I guess maybe he just wants Obama to lie like he did?

    August 29, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. Larry

    Just because we are lambasting Rumsfeld here doesn't mean we don't agree with him about Syria. It's just laughable in a sick way that the bumbling "architect" of the Iraq War should have anything meaningful to say about attacking a country.

    August 29, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    "He's right? What about the Russian aircraft carrier moving into position off the Syrian coastline to position itself between US forces and the Russian naval base located there?"

    Turkey's part of NATO, and they have no love loss for Syria. They'd allow cruise missles to be launched from their territory. Guaranteed.
    If you think that the Russians are going to sit idly by while military targets, in which they have invested, are destroyed by US weaponry, then you're as out of touch with reality as Rumsfeld. I'm not predicting World War III, but this could easily turn into the closest orbit since the Cuban Missle Crisis.

    August 29, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Ted Testerson

    Irony, thy name is Rumsfeld

    August 29, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. Don? Is that you??

    Who is Donald Rumsfeld? And why should I care what he says? Is he someone important? I mean to anyone else besides himself?

    August 29, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. mv7Mvp

    Maybe Obama is working on some exit strategies Don...

    August 29, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. JFW

    Is this war criminal still on the loose?

    August 29, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Cheryl

    Ironic, Rumsfeld touting restraint. Must be a sign of the coming apocalypse. Next will be Cheney accusing Obama of enriching his cronies in the industo-military cabal.

    August 29, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    A hard lesson to learn is that doing nothing is actually doing something. Clearly those countries surrounding Syria do not consider intervening necessary while their refugee crises explode and their abilty to cope dininishes. If we do anything at all, let it be to buttress the refugee camps with food, housing medicine and whatever else is needed. Then, in the end instead of remembering the bombs that killed their families they will remember the food, clothing and medicine in crates with USA on them and the American doctors, nurses and teachers who took care of their needs. Just because we have all the cool toys does not mean we should use them. Actually, maybe if we had a few less toys, we and the rest of the world might consider other methods then blowing people up. But then all those hundreds, nay, thousands of lobbyists for the defence industry would throw a hissy fit and lots of money at people who instead of representing WE THE PEOPLE represent them DADDY WARBUCKS
    BRAVO(A) M. Callahan!!!!

    August 29, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. Gene

    I'm just amazed given the time since we drew the line in the sand back in April that we did not already know exactly how we were going to react, had that greased in principle with congress and our partners, so that we would not be talking about taking action but already executing. If not then we should not have made such bold statements. We keep going out o a limb while the countries most affected by this just sit on the sidelines. This incident should have the entire world ready to take action against the Syrian regime.

    August 29, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. MB

    so says the man that still cannot justify an Iraqi war....Rumsfeld, are you still searching for Chemicals of MD?

    August 29, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. kmenlopark

    "Rumsfeld was crucial in planning the United States' response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, which included two wars, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Known in media circles for his outspokenness and candor, he gradually lost political support as the wars continued and resigned in late 2006. " Wikki. In just about any other civilized country This guy and his ex boss would be in prison or worse.

    August 29, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. Past Mistakes?

    Perpetual war brings down every nation, every time. Has Mr. Obama failed his history classes?

    August 29, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. olepi

    Ok, that does it! If Rummy says there's no reason to go in to Syria, then we'd probably better go in.

    Rummy is always, predictably, wrong.

    August 29, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. Johnjon

    Rumsfeld doesn't get an opinion.

    August 29, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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