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. Anonymous

    Is Rumsfeld hinting that Obama should "hire" Rummy/Cheney gang to make stuff up for another prolonged and expensive war that profits no one but the Rummy/Cheney gang!?
    I certainly hope I don't get to see that... let alone another "war." Rumsfeld should just go back to the land of make believe that he was hiding in the last few years and let the USA re-establish its credibility that Rummy & Co destroyed in less years than it took for the US to establish itself as a world power.

    August 29, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. Ngau Hu Phart

    At least the Obama administration is giving time for the American people to consider the actions, recent history, and consequences, and weigh in with an opinion. We should all do just that.

    If you can register to participate in this forum, you can let your voice be heard. Go to the respective Senate, and House of Representatives web sites, find your senator / congressman by keying in your Zip Code in the upper right corner of the respective home page. Follow the "contact" link to your representatives email format. Just say "NO" to military intervention in Syria.

    August 29, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. Dude in Colorado

    I especially like the part where Rummy suggests Obama is making a mistake by "demystifying" the Assad government by talking about our potential future actions... Right, because Saddam never saw us coming! LOL

    August 29, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. myway

    We're still waiting for valid justification to invade Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld. Based on the ever changing reasons given before or during the Iraq attack, Rumsfeld must be satisfied with any old justification, even if it turns out to be based on myth and hearsay.

    August 29, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. Eric TN

    Pot, meet Kettle! (I know...not original) but it's what this comes across as being: an also-ran trying to make a name for himself to justify his prior actions (see Cheney's activities since leaving office). Rumsfeld and crew should be held personally liable for the bill incurred in fighting their personal war on Iraq and put in prison for the needless loss of life incurred on our servicemen and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    No, the world's not perfect. The Assad regime is criminal. But what are the repercussions for ANY attack on Syria? If we don't take out Assad, we end up with the same issue that led to the Iraq invasion post 9/11. If we do take Assad out, are we ready to become an occupying force there?

    Obama is right in thinking this all thru. It's not just the attack/punishment for the deed. It's the aftermath that the US and its allies will have to incur with whatever decision they make. Bush and crew thought that taking out Hussein would make the people fall at our feet. Well, guess what? It didn't! Now we have a bigger problem than if we had left Hussein in as dictator.

    August 29, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  6. Joel

    Love him or hate him, I think we can all agree that when it comes to building a case for war, Donald Rumsfeld is the world's foremost authority on what constitutes abject failure.

    August 29, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |

    We all know what a military genius Rumsfeld was, rofl!

    August 29, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. harry

    you mean Obama hasnt lied about it as you did during Iraq war?

    August 29, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. Daniel Savane

    If anyone is an expert on not sufficiently making a case for military action and deceiving the American citizens, this war criminal is certainly that person to the nth degree. Rumsfield, please just go to prison, or somewhere, anywhere and shut your pie hole. Do you honestly think anyone but the Faux news adherents give a rat's posterior about what you think.

    August 29, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. JOSH P.

    What a world,here,s a WAR Criminal who almost half of million Irakis blood on his hands giving advice to another War criminal in Obama.

    August 29, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |

    Stay out of Syria, it is a no win situation. Not worth American blood. CHRIS CHRISTIE 4 PREZ!

    August 29, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. MSKE

    Like others have said; it's pretty ironic that THIS specimen of all people criticizes anybody's justification for war. His underdeveloped mind doesn't seem to grasp that "not making a strong case for war" is an order of magnitude better than "making a completely FAKE case for war, purely based on lies and fear-mongering", like he and Bushy boy did!

    August 29, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. Vince

    LOL! Rumsfeld talking about making a case for an attack!?! That's laughable.

    August 29, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. TM

    "The idea of demystifying for the enemy what you're going to do is mindless,” he (Rumsfeld) said. So , I take it we should pull another preemptive attack and let our young men and women in the military pay the price – again. No skin off his (Rumsfeld) nose – a modern day Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, a paranoid ultra-nationalist.

    August 29, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The south is still fighting the civil war all these years later
    Indeed they are and they are proudly trying to wave their little confederate flag across I-95 to prove it.

    August 29, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Whatever man...

    can you say "shock and awe"??????

    August 29, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  17. confusedandalone

    Where was this type of thinking when we invaded Iraq threshold for intervention WMD what were our notional intrest then. Iraqs oil. this is typical between our two partys. we got it wrong then and it looks like we will get wrong again. I long for an american leader not a party favor. We cannot be sure who used this Gas it favors the rebles to involve us. nether side can be trusted Democrats / Republicans / Muslims each with their own agenda I LONG FOR AN AMERICAN LEADER

    August 29, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. Pander Bear

    Translation: Obama's actions on Syria won't make me or any of my oil cronies a profit like the Iraq debacle did so it's not a good idea.

    August 29, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. gappbaaz

    WOW !!! Look who is talking !!!

    August 29, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Joshy Sweetpants

    Rumsfeld then went on to say that all kettles are black and that glass houses are great for throwing stones at.

    August 29, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Alan Peterson

    The first decade of the 21st century is a great example of what happens when a less-than-cerebral president is surrounded by people like Rumsfeld. What a joke.

    August 29, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. b.p

    He should be dragged to Hague by ICC for war crimes.

    August 29, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Eric

    Regardless of who the messenger is, he's right. Obama has not made any compelling case for military intervention. The past can't be changed, but hopefully we can affect the future by learning from the past.

    August 29, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. Richo

    Howz 'bout dem WMD?

    August 29, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. Marcus

    G.S. Patton – What a pitiful person you are to use the name of one the most controversial generals of the US History that yet, in spite of all the stuff he said and did that more than once hindered his career, always delivered what was asked of him (If it was for him WWII would have ended in 1944 but thanks to that idiot – Montgomery – the nazis had a few more months...)... to lay out such a dreamy version of the relationships between the US and the other powers-that-be of the world ten years ago!
    BTW, two things I have to say:
    1st – The 'Georgia' mentioned by somebody else in this ticker is the country, not the state.
    2nd – Patton, the real one, always took care of learning as much as he could about the situations he would face while on the job, he even read the Quran to better understand in what the people of the countries he was sent to in Northern Africa based their lives on. Something you should do.

    August 29, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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