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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You can't make these people up!
    Tell you what Rummy, you're an expert at lying us into war, why don't you make up a few reasons, put them on paper and submit them to the President for his consideration?
    The nerve of this turd.

    August 29, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    om l.

    What's so funny is that everyone on the left is so fixated on the messenger here rather than the message. At all costs, the lefties will berate someone who just said that he doesn't feel that we should be going in to Syria. ... .... ....
    That's not what Rumsfeld said, or suggested, at all.

    “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. “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.

    If anything, Rumsfeld is saying what the headline of the article says, that the administration has not justified an attack. The administration hasn't said much of anything except suggestions that more is yet to come. Rumsfeld has also seemed to haven't noticed that we have yet to launch any sort of attack, so his remarks are premature and immature.

    August 29, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. O'drama ya Mama

    it would have been nice of him to add how he justified the war in Iraq and what our national interest was in that nation.

    August 29, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. Data Driven

    @Media Madness,

    You expressed outrage that the Congress rubber-stamps the Executive's freedom to start wars. Constitutionally speaking, you're right, of course, but all that is gotten around by calling war something else: "police action", "Authorization for the Use of Military Force", or what-have-you. The Legislative ceded their rights on war powers a long, long time ago. And so, every four years, Americans elect a tinhorn emperor and we call it an "exercise in democracy".

    August 29, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. kirk

    See how little their ideology has changed? They were bad then, and they are bad now

    August 29, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. sonny chapman

    The disease called ARROGANCE causes blindness.

    August 29, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. Jeff in Virginia

    Interesting. I don't seem to recall any justifications for Rummy going to war other than lies. Is Rumsfeld suggesting that Obama fabricate the justification, just as he did for Iraq?

    August 29, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  8. Anonymous

    This from one of the key people who screwed up the Iraq war. A war made on lies.

    August 29, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  9. John

    Rumsfeld is a war criminal. He should be tried for war crimes. Rumsfeld should shut up.

    August 29, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    "Rumsfield, who I am no fan of whatsoever, just said we shouldn't strike militarily and the lefties here castigate him."
    Actuallly, Rumsfeld is saying almost the exact opposite. He's practically foaming at the mouth for a military strike and he cannot understand what is taking so long for it to happen.

    August 29, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. Hohumm

    I don't think we should do anything with Syria, let the Muslim countries handle it. You notice how they're all rushing in to help! Why in hell do we want to help the terrorists? They will thank us by hating us. On the other hand, Rumsfeld is the last (forgot Cheny) person who should be giving advise. He needs to be gagged.

    August 29, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  12. Williambd

    Utterly, incredibly breathtaking. That would be referring to the capacity for a Neocon to delude everyone including themselves. After all these years, still unrepentant and clueless.

    August 29, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. Ram Riva

    These characters from the Bush years....are incredible....would like to know what are they smoking....they have no recolection none what so ever of any events....for these guys is like Morgan Freeman said...."is reality ....real..."
    FOX News reality......but of course!!.....HItler never existed and yes the President is a Republican....Romney is his name

    August 29, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  14. wendel

    and this guy has the cred's to say this.?The republican party is so insane that is scary.

    August 29, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. ST

    Mr. President, can you please listen wherever you are. Be careful of these republicans. You were so lenient and didn't send them to prison for whatever evils they did in Iraq. I can assure you, just strike Syria, and god forbid if things go wrong there, these republicans will take you straight to unimaginable place. Think twice if not thrice before you take any action on Syria. A trap is set for you to fall in it. Be careful Mr. President!

    August 29, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. David

    Rumsfeld, Cheney & G.W Bush, should be tried for treason and lying to the American people concerning the Iraq WMDs.
    Rumsfeld, Cheney & G.W. Bush, falsified the Iraq intelligence reports to win Congress' support for Iraq war.
    No WMDs were found in Iraq.

    August 29, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. Floyd from Illinois

    Say Don, which is preferable:

    A) A case for war that has not yet been made
    B) A case for war that was made, but which was based on lies?

    August 29, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. John

    wow..lets here some truth from the king of Lies

    August 29, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. Learn to Fish

    Advice from someone who's been there, done that, and had to live with the consequences... I expect the left will ignore. "One thing we have learned from history is that we don't learn from history"

    August 29, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    He is GASSING to DEATH innocent woman and children. At least twice, if not 15 times (according to U.K. analysis). Should we wait until GENOCIDE (and empower Iran with our inaction as a by-product). This is not a LEFT or RIGHT issue, it is a issue of doing the right thing. Have you seen the pictures of the bodies of little CHILDREN lined up? I thought Americans say they are "compassionate
    Yup, yup I hear you Bazinga. Unfortunately genocide is and has been going on all over the world. Look at various countries in Africa that have had civil war going on for decades. Suffer the little children , and the rape of women, the cannabalism and murder of the innocent.
    Yup I hear you. But we cannot be the world's policeman nor the world's conscience.
    Quite frankly, we have managed to abstain from interfering with the decimation of x number of African nations, I'm okay with sitting this one out as well.
    Of course I'm not privy to all the intel and how jumping in or staying out would play out for US and how it would serve our interests. I defer to the President and his Cabinet to make the right decision.

    August 29, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. Dave

    Actually, when Bill Clinton tried to kill Bin Laden with Tomahawks, the Republicans screamed that he was just trying to divert attention from the Monica Lewinsky affair. That caused a curtailment of the strikes. If Clinton had persisted and succeeded, there might not have been a 9/11. So using Tomahawks requires more evidence of actual chemical weapon use, while inserting a 100,000 man invasion only requires false rumors of a WMD program....OK

    August 29, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. maximusvad

    Rumsfeld made his case....WMDs...remember.....Selective outrage along with selective memory from the right.....GOP is doomed to die...

    August 29, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Dave

    If anybody would know about unjustified attacks, it's Donald Rumsfeld. He has quite a bit of experience in that area.

    August 29, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. rosie

    Coming from this absolute total loser of a human being it means nothing. Don you have a special level of HeLL reserved just for you.

    August 29, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. Concernedmedic

    So this guy was involved with inventing an artificial reason to go to war, launching a full-scale invasion of a country and tying up the military in a decade-long, futile war, costing thousands of lives, after making up evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons and then never finding any. This same guy says that the current administration hasn't justified a reason for a small-scale surgical attack against a country where video evidence of chemical weapons use exists. The ability of politicians to speak out of 2-sides of their mouths never ceases to amaze me. If anyone should have kept their mouths shut when commenting on this issue it's this guy and the entire Bush administration. (By the way the main reason why Afghanistan couldn't be won was because fully half of the might of the US and British militaries were diverted to the false war in Iraq when they could have been nation building an winning Afghanistan. 1 war won would have been better than 2 lost causes, but that would require math skills from Bush).

    As for the comment about the current administration tipping their hand by spelling out what they are going to do giving the Syrians a 3-5 day heads up, he has a point there. That seems like a poor choice and is not smart military planning.

    August 29, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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