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. Grady

    Seriously...the man who, along with a slew of others in the Bush whitehouse, trumped up the evidence and sold us a bill of goods about WMD to facilitate their invasion of Iraq?
    At least we are taking a long, thoughtful approach to this situation before we just go Rambo and start firing off cruise missles like skyrockets on a fourth of July evening.

    August 29, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. KrjMc

    Why would any of us care what Rumsfeld thinks about anything. This is the guy who invaded Iraq for no reason, except to line his and his buddy's with oil money. WMD were never found because they never existed. We know that chemical weapons have been used many times in Syria and we need to draw a line on Assad's behavior.
    We are not talking about invading a country we are talking about removing the chemicals from the country or bombing their facilities so they cannot move them. Rumsfeld has to be one of the most immoral people on this earth.

    August 29, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. Rocketman

    Why all the reactions about Rummy's statement? After all, he has the expertise and experience to assess a deelpy flawed reason to involve this country in another expensive and prolonged test of newly developed tools of war. All the while ignoring the collaterally damaged human victims.

    August 29, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. Calvin

    Youngest SECDEF in American history .Donald Rumsfeld

    Oldest SECDEF in American History Donald Rumsfeld

    Longest term in office as SECDEF in American history Donald Rumsfeld

    Only person in American history to serve as SECDEF twice Donald Rumsfeld

    Thank you Mr. Secretary for your faithful service to our nation.

    August 29, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. ddfdfds

    better to stay quiet, than to make a false case......Rumsfeld.

    August 29, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. duhtruth

    Is Rumsfeld for real? He was the chief case maker for Iraq. Nice goin' Dummie.

    August 29, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. gt

    Hey Sunnysmom-why do you people conveniently forget that it wasn't just Bush that wanted to go into Irag. Hillary, Kerry and Congress all wanted to go in-wasn't just Bush.

    August 29, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. SeattleReign

    The case was never made to go into Iraq either, except the lies Rummy told about WMD. We need to stay OUT of Syria and get out of the rest of the Mid East. Let it implode without our help this time. Why should we go in to Syria on the pretense of outrage about HOW Assad kills in a Civil War??? Did we go into Darfur? Gee there MUST be a reason why our outrage only lands within the borders of the oil rich region. And how is it that it's more palatable for foreign citizens to die from bomb hits, but not chemical hits??? Dead is dead. Ah, the oxymoronic rules of war. The real outrage is war itself. And by the way, not only is Rumsfeld irrelevant, but his partisan attempt to attack Obama is so transparent. How can he with a straight face make the accusations after what he and the Bush administration perpetrated upon the U.S. and its people? Obama needs to stop listening to the hawks and following what his original philosophy was on invasions in the Mid East.

    August 29, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. GJGVT

    I think what he's really saying is, "because they haven't made up a bunch of lies yet the American people will believe, they haven't justified the reason for an attack..." Exactly which strategic interests did a 6 year war in Iraq help to achieve???

    August 29, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Dikran

    He has a point. Still it's hypocritical for HIM to be saying this. But what he is saying is true.

    August 29, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. JG

    Are you kidding me!!! This guy is talking about justifying an attack!!! At least this time they have actual proof. It's a lose lose scenario for the US either way, but the use of chemical weapons is insane and eventually if left unchecked will end up in other parts of the world. Whether you like it or not, there has to be some sort of stability returned to the region because the current situation is what Al Queda thrives on!

    August 29, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  12. Fair is Fair

    "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."
    If you think the world is going to just sit by and allow Russia to, in essence, sanction Syria's use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians, I'd be more concern with YOUR sense of reality.

    August 29, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. matt

    Who's gonna listen to a man who has lost all credibility and respect with the American people.
    Did Bush justify the Iraq attack? Sure he did, with fabricated facts and manipulation.

    August 29, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Johnson J. America

    Why is this man allowed to say a single word about war, let alone critique another administration's descent into it or expert escape? This man is a criminal, too rich to be put behind bars, but not too rich to be shamed in every public place. Would so love to see him sometime in a restaurant and accidentally spill a drink over his uber-privledged arrogant head. Would so love to go back in time and prevent this pseudo-intellectual piece of chrome-sucking military industrial complex upstart from ever having gotten past first base. Alas.

    August 29, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Lawless4U

    WHat in the name of God is wrong with this guy? Him being the "architect" of the Iraq war, a war based on lies mind you, is criticizing the current administration for potentially attacking a regime that actually used WMDs??!!!!!!

    August 29, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. rosaadriana

    Too bad he wasn't this cautious when he actually had power to do something.

    August 29, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Mike

    Wow!! Now this is the Pot calling the Kettle black isn't it!

    August 29, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. perplexed Pete

    Calvin- thank Rumsfeld for his faithful service? Oy! The only service to his country was his incompetence and deceit. Calvin,you are a deeply troubled person.

    August 29, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. Columbia

    This is one of the rare moments in life when you truly don't know whether to laugh or cry.

    August 29, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. Newbs

    Leave it to the "Lame Stream," Sages of the Comment File and now Rummy to expect that our President has been blathering and trying to make sense of a situation just too complex for him to comprehend.

    That an ex-Defense Secretary could so wildly exaggerate and mischaracterize our government's actions bespeaks of something between Palenesque pandering for Republican favor and senility. What we hear from the other side is the defensive snarling of a discovered vermin. Meanwhile we continue monitor and identify, refine and disseminate, noting everything that moves, while the guilty run for deep cover and possibly revealing some unknown unknowns.

    Hey, maybe Putin pulled a string and made it happen just to further vex the West and profit on some commodity trading.

    August 29, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  21. Dr. Tre

    No, Calvin, thank Gerald Ford, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. They're the ones respnsible for bringing us this tool.

    August 29, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. ShutUp

    You are not credible enough to say anything pertaining to war. Look, the war that you said would end within a month has been going on for 12 years. Zip it and shove it ..

    August 29, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. JCal

    Yes, places like the UK and others are condoning an attack – but I wonder who they expect will pay for most of it with personnel and money? Yes, what is going on in Syria is horrible, but short of total destruction of the Assad regime, we are risking a worse situation. Remember, dictators don't react with sensible acts – they tend to get more violent and punitive as things get worse (mostly taking it out on their own citizens).

    August 29, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. mojo

    4,400 Americans dead.
    Thank you Mr. Secretary for your faithful service to our nation.

    August 29, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. Brian

    Rummy should know what he's talking about. The man co-conspired with Cheney and others in Bush's administration to falsify facts to drag our military into Iraq. He's talking in code, basically he's saying Obama needs to get some "fixers" to provide more "evidence" to justify an attack.

    August 29, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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