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. Remzi R Barolli

    The former secretary of defense should not be making comments about the current events in Syria, just look what happened when he and President Bush decided to attack Iraq, how many Americans died, how mud did it cost our nation for that war. Obama has the brains, he will decide, when and how the attack will take place. Please Mr. Secretary, you are retired now and to not get involved in any of the decisions made by the current administration. I can assure you what ever is decided it will be a successful outcome.

    August 29, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. American

    .. and we Americans should listed to Rumsfield because??? He did high school wrestling?

    August 29, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. James Allen

    The last person who should be talking on justifying a war is Rumsfeld...!!!! I do agree with him though that there has been too much publicity around America's intentions regarding Syria.. that is the height of stupidity if you ask me.

    August 29, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Big Daddy Vladdy

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

    You're absolutely right because nobody noticed all of those US warships lined up with their crosshairs on Syria.

    August 29, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. Grampa

    Still Rummy after all these years. My God I'm glad we got rid of him, and Slithering Dick, and Dubya.

    August 29, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC


    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.
    He's right? What about the Russian aircraft carrier moving into position off the Syrian coastline to position itself between US forces and the Russian naval base located there? You can see it on Google Earth, or at least try to. You can zoom in on the coast to the pont where you can almost count individual streets, except for the region where the base is located.

    August 29, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  7. Pam from Iowa

    "Now, if we can get access to their oil fields, then..........' says Rumsfeld.

    August 29, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Fred Fields

    I suppose Rummy would like Obama to "make the case" by having his Secretary of State present poorly vetted, fabricated information to the UN, or make speeches about a "mushroom cloud" knowing full well there is no substantial evidence that the enemy is developing nuclear weapons. I do agree that Obama has a problem: he respects the intelligence of the American people and finds it difficult to lie.

    August 29, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. Jay

    Seriously? This guy is talking? He should be locked up himself.

    August 29, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. Tom

    Not that I have any faith in the current administration but you have an oxygen thief (Donald Rumsfeld) the architect of the
    iraq war telling the current administration they are not justified in attacking Syria when there were never any WMD's found in Iraq at the cost of thousands of lives.

    August 29, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. Vic

    This guy has not all!! No one listens to this blowhard!

    August 29, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. Al

    He is right that Obama has not made a case, but who is he to talk? Like there was a case to attack Iraq or something? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    August 29, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. jon

    Hasn't this guy passed away yet?? Why are we even listening to someone like him?? War-monger!

    August 29, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. callmecrazy

    Next George Bush will say that they didn't have anything to do with 9/11.

    August 29, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. luvUamerica

    Hmmmmm.....Interesting. Mr. WMD himself.....What Clinton and Obama have been doing is fixing the mess this moron and his boss created. How did they even allow this guy out of the house? I thought he might have died and gone down below already. Does he know where Syria is?

    August 29, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. M. Callahan

    Let's see, for many months two republican senators have missed no opportunity to berate Obama for not doing something about Syria. They have never said what they think should be done but definitely something. A hard lesson to learn is that doing nothing is actually doing something. Clearly those countries surrounding Syria do not consider intervening necessary while their refugee crises explode and their abilty to cope dininishes. If we do anything at all, let it be to buttress the refugee camps with food, housing medicine and whatever else is needed. Then, in the end instead of remembering the bombs that killed their families they will remember the food, clothing and medicine in crates with USA on them and the American doctors, nurses and teachers who took care of their needs. Just because we have all the cool toys does not mean we should use them. Actually, maybe if we had a few less toys, we and the rest of the world might consider other methods then blowing people up. But then all those hundreds, nay, thousands of lobbyists for the defence industry would throw a hissy fit and lots of money at people who instead of representing WE THE PEOPLE represent them DADDY WARBUCKS.

    August 29, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. brd893

    Wonder which did he crawl out from and he is speaking through! How quickly we forget about the flawed and lying excuses made to enter Iraq. He should shut his pie hole and go away. He is a discredited person who should shut up and go away.

    August 29, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Big Willy

    Ohhh, you mean why hasn't he lied yet to the American people...!

    I was going to use the pot and the kettle analogy here but I think that would be inappropriate. Crawl back into the hole you came from remember Pat Tillman and your lies and cover-ups on what happened to this All-American wonderful human being? You took dedicated loving patriots and manipulated them to die for your lies.

    Ok I am going off topic but you get the point.

    August 29, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. Mike Olexa

    Although I agree with his assessment that we should not be telling everyone what our response is or will be before it happens, I also think he should be the LAST person to argue whether or not enough evidence has been provided. Keep in mind this is the same man who along with GWB, put us in a war that we should not have been in, or at least for the reason they originally used to get us into it. Even now they admit that their information was incorrect/ not accurate.

    August 29, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. Epidi

    Go AWAY Don. Your reign of terror is over.

    August 29, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  21. Borneo Wildman

    This coming from the man who justified the invasion of Iraq with...
    Yes, we know where the weapons of mass destruction are.
    They are north, east, south and west.

    August 29, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. Dave

    Rumsfeld? Really? REALLY?!

    August 29, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. Catherine

    Wow, he is full of nerve isnt he ?

    August 29, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  24. Arun

    This is the fool who lied to Congress and new there wasn't any WMD in Iraq. Why doesn't the right wing nuts criticize these idiots for the killings of thousands of innocent soldiers and savilians in Iraq for this bold face lie!!

    August 29, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  25. ca2011

    wow, who are these "journalists" who consult this war criminal and a failure as an expert to weigh on the matters of war?

    August 29, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
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