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. Name

    Why is this not in jail, if manny going to jail man should be the one in first with his buddies

    August 29, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. George Obando

    We have seen what happens when people rise up Our concern is with what their Government is doing with them-The Russians nor the Chinese want to see the USA winning battles for human rights with or without military intervention. The Iranians on one hand want to Eliminate Israel from the face of the Earth That implies the elimination of he USA also-On the other hand the Iranians want the right to pursue nuclear energy-. They do not understand that if they threaten the free world they can not be allow to have weapons of mass destruction. El Azad thinks he can continue killing its own people with or without quimical wepons-He does not Understand enough is enough. Thus Mr Rumsfeld you and Mr Bush could not solve those problems Now you must let Obama and his Govenment do it for you-Please save your comments-Give the President the right to solve the problems of the world without your interference!!!

    August 29, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. mikeretired

    CNN why bring any comments this guy has about anything. He is one of the many liars about the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He and his other two in office should be tried for treason.

    August 29, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. Jed

    Of all people........

    August 29, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  5. A Kickin' Donkey

    If Rumsfeld had any brains or class he'd have said "No Comment"

    August 29, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. snowyowl

    Thank you,CNN, for reminding us how far we have come since the lies and incompetence of Bush's war cabinet, personified by none other than Donald Rumsfeld.

    August 29, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. Sam

    I am sure that if Donald Rumsfel himself is not seeing enough justification to attack Syria, that means there is NOTHIng out there for us to intervene. Rumsfeld and the Bush Adminsitration relied on fake reports to justify the war in Iraq. For him to say there is not enough justification to attack Syria, I have to believe him and blamd Obama for even the suggestion of attacking Syria. Obama needs to understand that any power vaccuum in Syria means a NEW Afghanistan there. Whay would we want to intervene when two of our enemies are fighting each other?

    August 29, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. AfgWarVet

    Rumsfeld should be spouting his dribble from a prison cell instead of some plush Haliburton paid for office. After the lies he told about Iraq, which led to the unnecesary deaths of thousands of our soldiers and some of my friends,his words and comments mean nothing. Relegate him to the history books as the criminal he and Cheney are and move.

    August 29, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. Larry L

    @Larry in Houston

    I think 'ol Rumsfeld is saying : Obama wants to wait a couple years or more, to "weigh" out all the options" and maybe in 3 or 4 years, finally decide to resort to "diplomacy" LOL – – what else can a community organizer do ? LOL
    As another Larry from Texas and a career Soldier, I clearly remember another Texan who couldn't wait to send our troops to die in Iraq. Bush and "Uncle Dick" (a fellow draft-dodger) falsified intelligence data to cause the death of over 4,500 U.S. Service-members – some of them my friends. We have terrorists on one side and a ruthless dictator on the other. Is a measured approach a bad thing? Are you ready to die for either of those sides? Think – then speak.

    August 29, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. somebody

    @Indiana Voter
    It's so funny to see all the lefties on here still fighting the wars of the past, instead of focusing on the current issues. Lefties are still suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome. Can't defend this President, so lets trash the former again.

    I'm more of a moderate than a lefty but I'll bite. Funny you should say we're fighting wars of the past since the Secretary of Defense for the former is out there broadcasting his opinion. It's a big fat reminder of just how lame that administration was. Those who fail remember history (or fillfully choose to forget what they don't like) are doomed to repeat the same failures!

    So, let's look at the numbers.
    Iraq: tens of thousands or Iraqi's dead, 4000+ Americans dead, 2 Trillion $$
    Libya: thousands dead but before our involvement, 4 Americans dead, 1 Billion $$
    Syria: tens of thousands + dead but before our involvement, 0 Americans dead
    I am probably off a bit in the $$ amounts but the scale of Trillions vs Billions is correct. I would say Obama has done fairly well so far. The outcome in Iraq is literally a 1000 times worse. How is that for a defense of our current POTUS?
    The whole situation in Syria is scary and I certainly hope we find a way to deal with this without getting into another quagmire.

    August 29, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |

    The Guns Over People Partial Government Shutdown Tea potty wingnuts are salivating for another war. Those Big Oil checks aren't enough anymore.

    August 29, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Gumby

    All I can say is "Rummy" has a lot of nerve.

    August 29, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. rs

    Not that I believe the U.S. should have a role in Syria, but that's just flat-out funny coming from Rumsfeld who had no justification at all for taking us into war in Iraq. He is responsible for a war with no exit strategy, 6,000 American deaths, and the deaths of 125,000 innocent Iraqi civilians and the creation of 2 million Iraqi refugees.

    The draft-dodgers of the GOP simply have no clue what to do except try to criticize anything the President of the United States does or does not do. Their plan is....?

    August 29, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC


    Regardless of who the messenger is, he's right. Obama has not made any compelling case for military intervention.
    Rumsfeld is right only if one makes the assumption that military might is the correct action. Rumsfield is making statement like these only because he simply cannot understand what is taking so long for the missles and bombs to start flying.

    August 29, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    Mr. Rumsfeld is suggesting that in hindsight he would have made a different call in Iraq? No, I didn't think so. No surprise either that he is questioning Obama who is being forced to make decisions similar to that which Bush made. Shouldn't we be considering Mr. Rumsfeld as unAmerican. Or something.

    That being said, I really do wish the Middle East would put their big boy pants on and grow up ... starting with policing themselves without constantly dragging in the world over each and every one of their temper tantrums.

    August 29, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. Robert Constant

    This is the same person who delivered as a gift from Ronald Reagan to Saddam Hussein a pair of golden spurs.
    It is a matter of record that the Reagan Administration created this monster, arming him to the teeth, to wage was against Iran in punishment for the Iranians taking American hostages. The military i ndustrial com plex made a fortune.
    It is a matter of record that George W. Bush invaded Iraq on the pretext they had weapons of mass destruction. The military industrial complex made a fortune.
    Dwight David Eisenhauer, in his farewell address told the American People, "Beware the Military Industrial Complex."

    reagan Administration

    August 29, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. The Other Bob

    tom 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. Oh, how the tides have changed. Now, it appears that the left is all gung-ho to go into Syria.

    Rumsfield, who I am no fan of whatsoever, just said we shouldn't strike militarily and the lefties here castigate him. Yeah, that makes sense. Zero intellectual honesty. No criticism for the administration and their desire to go into ANOTHER country. Disgusting.
    Funny, it doesn't appear that ANYONE is "gung-ho to go into Syria." In fact, Obama has essentially ruled out ground forces if there is a military response. So I guess that means you have zero intellect, period.

    BTW, there is certainly value in assessing the credibility of a source of information or opinion. It's a part of what's called "critical thinking." You should try it some time.

    August 29, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. MTP

    I'd expect to hear something like this from Stephen Colbert because it's funny. But Rumsfild isn't trying to be funny. He's right – the Bush administration made a better case based upon fiction than the Obama administration has with strong evidence. But the evidence is there and action should be taken.

    August 29, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Mike

    I'm sorry. Donald Rumsfeld has no place providing an opinion on this. He lost his right to that on Iraq. Why is it that the people who actually have something intelligent to say decline to comment or be interviewed? Please, let's do a follow up to Rumsfeld with a Cheney interview. I'm sure it will also be enlightening and provide something we couldn't have predicted.

    August 29, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Name

    CNN why are you allowing him to speak. He is responsible for 6,000 American soldiers death and 30,000 American soldiers crippled for life. And hundred of thousand Iragi civilian deaths.
    He should be in jail with the rest of his buddies. Wake up.

    August 29, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. ge

    somebody–well said

    August 29, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. w l jones

    Some people have never learnt in that area a country can win a war by losing.

    August 29, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. Big Daddy Vladdy

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.... Had to check my calendar, is it April 1st? Clearly Rumsfeld is suffering from Dimentia or Alzheimers. Or smoking way too much crack! At least this time we would uncover weapons of mass distruction as evident of the factories in Syria producing it. I remember how embarassed I was that my country had ripped apart Iraq, sacrificed all those American lives and ended up basically digging through trash bins looking for evidence of weapons of mass destruction. I remember watching a broadcast covering US soldiers searching empty tractor trailers looking for evidence of a mobile weapons lab. It seemed rather petty after all that shock and awe that Rummy was so proud of.

    August 29, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Why is this lying, pathetic excuse for a human being given a platform to speak?

    August 29, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. Salty1

    The fact that Dumbsfeld has an opinion on the matter is funny. Since when is he the voice that matters after the misled IRAQ war? Go AWAY!

    August 29, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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