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Donald Rumsfeld on War & Peace

Secretary of Defense (Pres. Bush Cabinet)


1965: voted for additional $700M for Vietnam War

When it came to the Vietnam War, the Republican Party was in something of a quandary--and Johnson knew it. Republicans in Congress were likely to be the last ones to counsel retreat in the face of Communist aggression. I too was sympathetic to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations' expressed aims in Vietnam--to check Communist expansion--as were most Americans in the early years of the war.

But I started to have concerns in May 1965, when a Vietnam War appropriation bill came before the House, and President Johnson urgently requested an additional $700 million for the Department of Defense. The vote turned into a proxy fight between supporters and opponents of the war. In the end, I voted for the appropriations.

It was clear that the war in Vietnam had become the single most important issue facing the country.

Source: Known and Unknown, by Donald Rumsfeld, p. 97 , Feb 8, 2011

2001: Counseled attacking Iraq at same time as Afghanistan

In Sept. 2001, we considered confronting Iraq as well as the Taliban. Before 9/11, Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship was widely considered the most dangerous country in the world."Dealing with Iraq would show a major commitment to antiterrorism," Don Rumsfeld said.

Colin cautioned against it. "We would lose the UN, the Islamic countries, and NATO. If we want to do Iraq, we should do it at a time of our choosing. But we should not do it now, because we don't have linkage to this event."

Dick Cheney understood the threat of Saddam Hussein and believed we had to address it. "But now is not a good time to do it," he said.

I welcomed the vigorous debate. Listening to the discussion and divergent views helped clarify my options. Unless I received definitive evidence tying Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 plot, I would work to resolve the Iraq problem diplomatically. The best way to show him we were serious was to succeed in Afghanistan.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.189-191 , Nov 9, 2010

US & USSR invasions differed: we don't covet their land

In 2001, it was a new kind of war. At a press briefing in November, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld deflected speculation that we would suffer the same fate as the Soviets--a long, losing campaign--pointing out that there was a critical difference between us and communists invaders. "We don't covet their land," he said. Americans were there to crush two sets of Islamic extremists. One had attacked the US and the other was oppressing the Afghan people. Each depended on the other for survival.
Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.286 , Nov 2, 2010

2004: Remaining violence is thugs & pockets of dead-enders

"Pockets of dead-enders are trying to reconstitute. Gen. Franks and his team are rooting them out."
--Donald Rumsfeld, 6/18/03

"Any remaining violence is due to thugs, gangs, and terrorists."
--Rumsfeld, 3/14/04

"There are some who feel that the conditions are such that hey can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."
--George W. Bush, 7/2/03

"You know, the country is basically peaceful."
--Paul Bremer, 9/24/03

Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 62-65 , Oct 1, 2008

2002: "Iraq has WMDs"; 2003: We never said Iraq had nukes

"The war against terrorism is a new kind of war. In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."
--Alberto Gonzales, memo to Pres. Bush, Jan. 2002

"To be considered torture, techniques must produce lasting psychological damage or suffering 'equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.' "
-- Justice Dept. memo, 1/9/02

"Geneva does not apply to our conflict with al-Qaeda; al-Qaeda detainees also do not qualify as prisoners of war."
--George W. Bush, memo, 2/7/02

"I stand 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?"
--Donal Rumsfeld, on an interrogation technique memo, 2002

"Congress doesn't have the power to tie the president's hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique. They can't prevent the president from ordering torture."
--Justice Dept. memo, 2005

Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 24-25 , Oct 1, 2008

2003: Several hundred thousand troops is far off the mark

"Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers."
--Gen. Eric Shinseki, on how many troops would be needed in Iraq, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Feb. 25, 2003

"We can say with reasonable confidence that the notion of hundreds of thousands of American troops is way off the mark."
--Paul Wolfowitz, Feb. 27, 2003

"The idea that it would take several hundred thousand US forces I think is far off the mark."
-- Donald Rumsfeld, Feb. 28, 2003

"We don't have enough troops. We don't control the terrain."
--Colin Powell, to George W. Bush and Tony Blair, Nov. 12, 2004

"In my weeks in Iraq, I did not meet a single military officer who felt, privately, that we had enough troops."
--Coalition Provisional Authority adviser Larry Diamond, in a memo to Condoleezza Rice, April 26, 2004

Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 42-43 , Oct 1, 2008

2003: We know where WMDs are, around Tikrit & Baghdad

"As this operation continues, those WMDs will be identified and found, along with the people who produced them and who guard them."
--Gen. Tommy Franks, March 22, 2003

"We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."
-- Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003

"We know that the regime has them; we know that as the regime collapses we will be led to them."
--Tony Blair, April 8, 2003

"We have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. This is what this war was about and is about."
--Ari Fleischer, April 10, 2003

"We are learning more as we interrogate Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them."
-- George W. Bush, April 24, 2003

"We will find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so."
--George W. Bush, May 3, 2003.

"I expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found."
--Gen Michael Hagee, Marine Corps commander, May 21, 2003

Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 58-60 , Oct 1, 2008

2003: American troops will be welcomed by Iraqis

"You're going to find Iraqis out cheering American troops."
-- Paul Wolfowitz, February 23, 2003
"There is no question but that they would be welcomed."
-- Donald Rumsfeld, February 20, 2003
"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."
-- Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003
"Given the chance to throw off a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein, people will rejoice."
-- Ari Fleischer, March 21, 2003
Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 47 , Oct 1, 2008

2002: Iraq occupation will last 5 weeks or 5 months at most

"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that."
--Donald Rumsfeld, November 14, 2002
"It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months"
-- Donald Rumsfeld, February 7, 2003
"I think it will go relatively quickly. Weeks rather than months."
-- Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003
"No one is talking about occupying Iraq for five to ten years."
-- Richard Perle, March 9, 2003
"It could be that, absolutely."
-- George W. Bush, when asked of the United States would have troops in Iraq for the next ten years, January 11, 2008
Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 40-41 , Oct 1, 2008

Ridiculed Shinseki for saying Iraq needed greater manpower

Too few of the uniformed leaders of the American military spoke out against what many believed was a terribly flawed plan to go to war in Iraq. There were courageous exceptions. General Eric Shinseki, chief-of-staff of the Army, testified to Congress that the military would need far greater manpower than we had planned for in order to achieve our objectives in Iraq. He was publicly humiliated by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, and left dangling and neutered over the last 12 months of his tenure.
Source: Our Next Chapter, by Chuck Hagel, p. 58-59 , Mar 25, 2008

Garner: key mistakes were disbanding army & deBaathification

On June 18, 2003, Jay Garner went to see Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to report on his brief tenure in Iraq as head of the postwar planning office. “We’ve made three tragic decisions,” Jay Garner, the US envoy to Iraq, told Rumsfeld.

“Really?” Rumsfeld asked.

“Three terrible mistakes,” Garner said. He cited the first order banning as many as 50,000 members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party from government jobs and the second order disbanding the Iraqi military. Now there were hundreds of thousands of disorganized, unemployed, armed Iraqis running around. Third, Garner said, was the summary dismissal of an interim Iraqi leadership group that had been eager to help the United States administer the country in the short term. Garner made his final point: “There’s still time to rectify this. There’s still time to turn it around.”

Rumsfeld looked at Garner for a moment with his take-no-prisoners gaze. “Well,” he said, “I don’t think there is anything we can do, because we are where we are.”

Source: State of Denial, by Bob Woodward, p.219 , Oct 1, 2006

Replaced Powell’s “Overwhelming Force” with “Less is More”

In Nov. 2001, the Iraq war plan was the chessboard on which Rumsfeld would test, develop, expand & modify his ideas about military transformation. The driving concept was “less is more”--new thinking about a lighter, swifter, smaller force that could do the job better. Rumsfeld’s blitzkrieg would vindicate his leadership of the Pentagon. He was the main architect, driving the meetings & changes.

An important contrast can be found in the 1991 Gulf War. Powell’s concept was “Go in big & end it quickly. We could not put the US through another Vietnam.“ The plan to use overwhelming force to guarantee victory became known as the Powell Doctrine.

In 2001, things were different. The two great Pentagon ideas--a new, ”refreshed“ Iraq war plan, as Rumsfeld called it, and military transformation--converged.

The point of the Iraq war plan was: Get to Baghdad, and fast. It echoed Rumsfeld’s desire--”assume risk.“ The Powell Doctrine of trying to guarantee success was out. Rapid, decisive warfare was in.

Source: State of Denial, by Bob Woodward, p. 81-83&100 , Oct 1, 2006

Briefed on risks & dangers before war; but shut down dissent

A Feb. 2003 report identified “Show stoppers--problems, if not solved, place mission at risk”:Tom Warrick, author of the related ‘Future of Iraq’ study, was transferred by Jay Garner from the State Department to the Pentagon as a result. A few days later, Rumsfeld said to Garner, ”I’ve got to ask you to take Warrick off the team. I’ve gotten this request from such a high level that I can’t turn it down.“

A level so high that the secretary of defense couldn’t turn it down? That could only mean Bush or conceivably Cheney.

Source: State of Denial, by Bob Woodward, p.125-127 , Oct 1, 2006

Rumsfeld says there are ties between Iraq & Al-Qaida

I have acknowledged since September 2002 that there were ties between al-Qaida and Iraq. This assessment was based upon points provided to me by [the] then CIA director George Tenet to describe the CIA’s understanding of the al-Qaida Iraq relationship. Intelligence on the Saddam-al-Qaida question “migrates in amazing ways” and there were “many differences of opinion in the intelligence community”.
Source: Simon Jeffery, The Guardian , Oct 5, 2004

1971: Anti-war advocate: get out of Vietnam quickly

On April 7, 1971, the conversation kept returning to a different topic--namely, what the president, with growing irritation, called "the Rumsfeld problem." Nixon was thinking of getting rid of Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former congressman then serving on the White House staff. "I think Rumsfeld may not be too long for this world," he said, adding, a few minutes later, "Let's dump him."

The problem was that Rumsfeld was becoming, from Nixon and Kissinger's perspective, a troublesome antiwar advocate. Increasingly, Rumsfeld had emerged at the center of a small group of administration officials, all of them involved with domestic policy, who were privately questioning in staff meetings why the administration could not move more quickly to end the war.

"They don't know a goddamn thing about foreign policy!" Nixon had exploded earlier. "They're only concerned about, frankly, peace at any price, really. Because all they're concerned with is, well, revenue-sharing and environment and all that."

Source: Rise of the Vulcans, by James Mann, p. 1 , Sep 7, 2004

1971: Focus on post-war Indochina peace & reconstruction

For nearly two months Rumsfeld had been seeking some new role in the administration through which he could influence the administration's policy on Vietnam. In the process, he had become a particular annoyance to Kissinger. Rumsfeld's first attempt, in a memo to Nixon dated February 27, 1971, was to propose the appointment of "a high-level Presidential aide to review and report on postwar Southeast Asia during the winding down of hostilities." The detailed paper left no doubt Rumsfeld had himself in mind for this job. The special envoy could lay the groundwork for postwar reconstruction of Southeast Asia, Rumsfeld argued; he insisted such an envoy would not intrude on Kissinger's turf as national security adviser. Rumsfeld told Nixon that such an appointment "would focus attention and emphasis on Indo-China peace instead of Indo-China war." In bureaucratic language, Rumsfeld was asking Nixon to give peace a chance.
Source: Rise of the Vulcans, by James Mann, p. 2 , Sep 7, 2004

1998: Encouraged overthrowing Saddam as US policy

On January 26, 1998, President Clinton received a letter urging him to use his State of the Union address to declare the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to be the "aim if American foreign policy" and to order "military action as diplomacy is failing." Should the president agree, the signers all pledged, they would "offer their full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor." And, they warned, "the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined by how we handle this threat."

Signing the letter were Donald Rumsfeld [and other neoconservatives]. Four years before 9/11, they had publicly called for an invasion of Iraq, 9/11 would be the pretext for a war they had been devising for a decade.

Source: Where the Right Went Wrong, by Pat Buchanan, p. 46 , Aug 12, 2004

9/12/01: Urged focus on Iraq, not Al Qaeda

In the first hours following the 9/11 attack, Paul Wolfowitz pushed the president to ignore Afghanistan and attack Iraq. On Sep. 12, when antiterror czar Richard Clark returned to the White House, he was jolted: "I expected to go back to a round of meetings examining what the next attacks could be. Instead I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting Al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq."

By afternoon, Rumsfeld was still going on about "getting Iraq." When Colin Powell urged that they focus on Al Qaeda, Rumsfeld pushed anew for the Iraq option.

Source: Where the Right Went Wrong, by Pat Buchanan, p. 47 , Aug 12, 2004

Clarke: Rumsfeld took advantage of 9-11 to push Iraq agenda

I expected to go back to a round of meetings [after September 11] examining what the next attacks could be, what our vulnerabilities were, what we could do about them in the short term. Instead, I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting Al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq.

On the morning of the 12th DOD’s focus was already beginning to shift from al Qaeda. CIA was explicit now that al Qaeda was guilty of the attacks, but Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were not persuaded. It was too sophisticated and complicated an operation, they said, for a terrorist group to have pulled off by itself, without a state sponsor-Iraq must have been helping them.

Source: Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, chapter 1 , Mar 23, 2004

No decent targets in Afghanistan, so bomb Iraq

By the afternoon on Wednesday [after Sept. 11], Secretary Rumsfeld was talking about broadening the objectives of our response and “getting Iraq.” Secretary Powell pushed back, urging a focus on al Qaeda. Relieved to have some support, I thanked Colin Powell. “I thought I was missing something here,” I vented. “Having been attacked by al Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.”

Powell shook his head. “It’s not over yet.“ Indeed, it was not. Later in the day, Secy. Rumsfeld complained that there were no decent targets for bombing in Afghanistan and that we should consider bombing Iraq, which, he said, had better targets. At first I thought Rumsfeld was joking. But he was serious and the President did not reject out of hand the idea of attacking Iraq. Instead, he noted that what we needed to do with Iraq was to change the government, not just hit it with more cruise missiles, as Rumsfeld had implied.

Source: Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, chapter 1 , Mar 23, 2004

Legal ban on assassinations limits pursuit of bin Laden

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hinted that the government has evidence showing there was state sponsorship of last week’s attacks. He said that the campaign against terrorism “will not be quick and it will not be easy” and that the goal is “to drain the swamp they live in.” He added: “We have a choice, either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable, or to change the way that they live, and we chose the latter.”

Rumsfeld said the legal ban on government-sponsored assassinations restricts what the government can do in its pursuit of bin Laden, who is described as the prime suspect in the attacks. But former president Bill Clinton, in an interview with NBC News, said the ban should pose no hurdle. The ban applies only to heads of state, not terrorists, he said. “I can assure you we’ve been trying to get Osama bin Laden for the last several years.”

Source: Dan Balz and Alan Sipress, Washington Post, p. A1 , Nov 19, 2001

Expect terrorists to get bio, chem, & nuke weapons

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warned today that he expected the enemies of the US would eventually help terrorist groups obtain chemical, biological and possibly even nuclear weapons technology. His remarks echoed other administration officials who have stepped up warnings on the spread of chemical and biological weapons, the threat of attacks against Americans overseas and the need for stronger antiterrorism measures at home.

Rumsfeld said, “It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to expect that at some point those nations will work with those terrorist networks and assist them in achieving and obtaining those kinds of capabilities.“ Rumsfeld did not name those terrorist-supporting nations. But a Department of Defense report released in January said that Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan and Libya all have active chemical or biological weapons programs. In addition, Iraq and Iran are trying to acquire materials for nuclear devices, the report said.

Source: James Dao, New York Times , Oct 1, 2001

Balkans shows that NATO needs to upgrade

We must apply new thinking lies in [the NATO] Alliance’s ability to address regional conflicts. The Balkans showed that the Alliance needs to upgrade and transform its capabilities. And for that, we need more resources. Second, it showed that we are most successful when we act together.

President Bush plans to review our involvement in the Balkans, with the hope of maintaining the most appropriate type and scale of involvement. We will not act unilaterally, nor fail to consult our allies. Of that you can be certain.

When we started in Bosnia, we deployed tens of thousands of heavily armed forces. Today, we still have capable force there, but the mission has changed and the force is appropriately smaller & lighter. We have made these incremental changes through routine reviews, [and the] process of consultation, of assessment, and change should continue. It is the willingness of nations to act in concert that helps sustain security and strengthen the peace.

Source: Speech to Munich Conference on European Security Policy , Feb 3, 2001


Donald Rumsfeld on Iraq Survey Group Report

Saddam’s goal was to end sanctions then restart WMD program

Source: Iraq Survey Group Report: Key Findings, p. 1 , Oct 6, 2004

Saddam’s focus for WMDs was tactical use on Iran & Israel

Source: Iraq Survey Group Report: Key Findings, p. 1 , Oct 6, 2004

UN sanctions hurt Saddam militarily and politically

Source: Iraq Survey Group Report: Key Findings, p. 5 , Oct 6, 2004

Saddam used Oil For Food program to bank $11 billion

Source: Iraq Survey Group Report: Key Findings, p. 5-6 , Oct 6, 2004

1991 Desert Storm & UN sanctions destroyed Saddam’s missiles

Source: Iraq Survey Group Report: Key Findings, p. 9 , Oct 6, 2004

Saddam’s nuclear program decayed after Desert Storm

Source: Iraq Survey Group Report: Key Findings, p.11 , Oct 6, 2004

Saddam wanted chemical weapons but industry was destroyed

Source: Iraq Survey Group Report: Key Findings, p.13-14 , Oct 6, 2004

Saddam had biological weapons capability but no weapons

Source: Iraq Survey Group Report: Key Findings, p.17-18 , Oct 6, 2004

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