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. Frank Morton.

    We supported Saddam in using chemicals against Iran. Isn't this the same clown that was advising him at the time? Our CIA has admitted taking part. We may have even supplied the Killing agents used.
    We do know that john McCain and John Kerry have never objected to dropping napalm, agent orange and other experimental anti personell tems on Vietnam. Now the same two express this outrage and try to convince us to get involved. Unbelievable hypocras y! We need to get out of the middle east and the far east. We have our own pressing problems and our people don't want to be supporting big money interest all over the world. Let the Emir of Kuwait, the Saudi royal family support themselves.

    August 29, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  2. Tired Vet

    Obama is a war monger. He has killed thousands of people for no reason. How many died to cover his crimes in Libya? Are we going to take sides in the Sunni/Shia civil war? What is the desired end result of this attack? Do we want the pro Al Queida Sunnis rebels to win? Or do we want the pro Iran Shia to win? The only good answer is not to play.

    August 29, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  3. realist512

    Rumsfeld has no right to make any such statement. The first thing is that he should apologize for his own mistakes.

    August 29, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  4. CSUguy

    Has anyone asked where the chemical weapons came from? There have been no stories about Syria making chemical weapons. Yet in the past there where stories of the Iraq WMDs making their way too Syria from Iraq shortly before the invasion of Iraq. Maybe the WMDs are finally making an appearance. Maybe Rumsfeld isn't a hack after all. If there were cheimical weapons moved out of Iraq (and we know Iraq use to have them as they where used in the Iraq-Iran war and against the Kurds) they would not have been destroyed. Just a big mess any way you cut it.

    August 29, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  5. Frank Morton.

    The right thing for us to do is bring our troops home and quit defending big money interest all over the world. Everybody knows that we supported Saddam in using deadly chemicals. They also know we dropped napalm and agent orange all over a country that was no threat to us in any way. It's past time for us to start dealing with our own problems. If we don't America will soon be in depression and chaos.
    Let banking, corporations, the Emir of Kuwait, the Saudi royal family, Israel and all other leeches on the American people defend themselves.

    August 29, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  6. John

    He should know since he got us into one of the worst thought out wars in U.S. history!

    August 29, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  7. ash

    I am a conservative Republican, but Rumsfeld, do not give your opinion about anything like this.

    August 29, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  8. rlindsl

    Republican credibility on display. This is embarrassing. Rumsfeld is spinning his face off...

    August 30, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  9. doucetnp1

    Mr. Rumsfeld, please shut up. You are bumbling moron who did not listen to the Army Chief of Staff when he told you how many troops it would ACTUALLY take to not only defeat the Iraqi military, but to SECURE the peace. We all know what this led to. You have zero credibility. BTW, where were those WMD's you said Iraq had?

    All of you morons in the previous administration need to just GO AWAY. Ronald Reagan, one of the greatest American Presidents of our time, was probably rolling over in his grave while you, Cheney, Dr. Rice, and W. were fumbling and bumbling your way around foreign policy.

    August 30, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  10. ronjayaz

    First, Newt and now Rumsfeld. Wow! I cant get over I agree totally with both. The British Parliament has spoken, let's hear from Congress. Obama's no longer sainted if he ever was.

    August 30, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  11. kallikat

    Who cares what this dummy has to say?!?!?

    August 30, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  12. stpaulpackerfan

    Rumsfeld is spinning the truth...really he thinks Obama's idea to go it with the world is absolutely brilliant! It almost makes him wonder why he isn't a lefty. My view.

    August 30, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  13. You mean Obama hasn't LIED like YOU did...

    I mean, give him time, Rummy. I'm sure he can come up with a better lie than "We have incontrovertible proof that the weapons of mass destruction are just North and South and East and West of Tikrit."

    Didja stay up all night to think that one up all by yourself, there Rummy, or did W help?

    August 30, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  14. GlenwoodLee

    Ahhh, Rummy, you old dog. It's almost September, why don't you and Cheney go hunting.

    August 30, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  15. You can't be serious....

    Tell me this is an SNL skit, or maybe Mad TV is back on again... To be clear, I'm definitely against any military intervention in Syria by the US, but of all people to open their mouths against Obama launching an "unjustifiable" war, it shouldn't be this warmonger hypocrite!!!! Why don't you tell Obama what he should really do – make up crap in order to justify this strike. You know, sorta like what you, W. Bush, Cheney and the whole crew did to kick off the war in Iraq a decade ago... God, please shut this weasel up while he's ahead! Go crawl back under the rock you came from Rummy Bumb.

    August 30, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  16. just a thought...

    Just how long are the people in W's administration going to live for?????

    August 30, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  17. GO AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I just can't stand this guy – never could.

    August 30, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  18. Krhodes

    I wonder if the Bush haters would like for me to post the hypocritical statements from Obama, Biden, and Kerry that were made against the Bush administration. They are doing just the opposite of what they claimed they would do in the situation Bush was in. Laughable Kerry going to be for it before he is against it and so on and so forth.

    August 30, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  19. Etta Mae

    Someone shut this guy up. Why does anyone give a crap what this criminal thinks?

    August 30, 2013 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  20. LouAZ

    In politics, stupidity is not a handicap. – Napoleon Bonaparte

    August 30, 2013 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  21. snowdogg

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

    What is mindless is Donald Rumsfeld.

    August 30, 2013 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  22. Stopwatch

    So many comments are reflexive anti-Rumsfeld push-and-play it that frightening to imagine that the Bush White House faced complex national security problems and made their best call, as Obama is attempting to do now? Is it that painful to contemplate the truth that many of us oversimplified the Bush years because it made us feel better to think that military actions could be avoided with a more sensitive and thoughtful commander in chief?

    As a thought experiment, imagine there were no domestic politics to consider, except to the extent intelligent thoughtful people can and should debate vigorously prior to start of hostilities. If Rumsfeld weren't "evil," might he be making some interesting points? He may be wrong, and it may be bad form to criticize or attempt to influence the President on the eve of battle...or is it?

    August 30, 2013 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  23. oneWayfarer

    Considering his HISTORY I think Rummy should STFU

    August 30, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  24. Mark

    I would never have imagined in a hundred years that I would find myself agreeing with Rumsfeld – but alas, I have no choice – his position has merit.

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

    ...raises the question at what point did military strategy become a show and tell? what next? sock puppets? tours of area 51 with a free t-shirt? I don't share the pathological hatred of him as some do, but he has blundered. First in establishing the red line in the sand – this forced the US into a position it did not want to be in. Now, signalling intent before the results are even known. It leaves the impression it was already decided.

    I do not pretend to have all the answers nor so naive that I think either factions are good. But launching an attack without more information and some consideration for the implications of attacking a country with the 5th largest army and Russia sending warships in close proximity strikes me of a strategy not well thought out.

    August 30, 2013 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  25. Ajax

    Is it just me or does this guy just seem to have a lot of balls weighing in on this?

    August 30, 2013 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
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