Rumsfeld unapologetic about US going to war against Iraq

February 3rd, 2011 - 6:25 pm ICT by ANI  

Pervez Musharraf Washington, Feb.3 (ANI): Sounding characteristically tough and defiant in his 800-page autobiography “Known and Unknown,” former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld remains largely unapologetic about his overall handling of the Iraq conflict and concludes that the war has been worth the costs.

Had the government of Saddam Hussein remained in power, he says, the Middle East would be “far more perilous than it is today.”Addressing charges that he failed to provide enough American troops for the war, he allows that, “In retrospect, there may have been times when more troops could have helped.”

But he insists that if senior military officers had reservations about the size of the invading force, they never informed him. And as the conflict wore on, he says, U.S. commanders, even when pressed repeatedly for their views, did not ask him for more troops or disagree with the strategy.Much of his explanation of what went wrong in the crucial first year of the occupation of Iraq stems from a pre-war failure to decide how to manage the post-war political transition.

In his memoir, Rumsfeld can’t resist taking pot shots at former secretaries of state Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice as well as at some lawmakers and journalists. He also reinforces his view that the National Security Council (NSC) was largely dysfunctional and riven by tensions between the Pentagon and State Department.

He claims that there were two differing approaches that were debated upon in the run-up to the war: a Pentagon view that power should be handed over quickly to an interim Iraqi authority containing a number of Iraqi exiles, and a State Department view favouring a slower transition that would allow new leaders to emerge from within the country.”Those key differences were never clearly or firmly resolved in the NSC,” Rumsfeld writes. “Only the President could do so.”Rumsfeld blames L. Paul Bremer III, who led the first year of occupation, for pursuing a grandiose plan more in line with State’s vision than the Pentagon’s.

Although Bremer has said he kept Pentagon officials fully informed, Rumsfeld, who was nominally Bremer’s boss, now describes himself as slow to recognize Bremer’s intentions.Rumsfeld asserts that Bush exacerbated matters by allowing confusion in the chain of command and enabling Bremer to “pick and choose” which senior Washington officials to deal with.

“There were far too many hands on the steering wheel, which, in my view, was a formula for running the truck into a ditch,” Rumsfeld writes in the book.Rumsfeld portrays Powell as reigning over a State Department reluctant to accept Bush’s political direction and intent on taking anonymous swipes at the Pentagon in the media.

He chides Rice, in her initial role as national security adviser, for often papering over differences rather than presenting Bush with clear choices in cases when the Pentagon and State Department disagreed.Later, after Rice succeeded Powell as secretary of state, Rumsfeld argues that she pushed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf too hard toward more democratic practices, wrongly put human rights ahead of important U.S. security interests in Uzbekistan, and fruitlessly pursued diplomatic engagement with Syria, Iran and North Korea.He suggests that Bush was at fault for not doing more to resolve disagreements among senior advisers.

The book, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post ahead of a Feb. 8 release date, covers Rumsfeld’s entire life, including earlier stints in government and a long career in business.

But more than 60 percent of the book deals with his controversial six years as Bush’s defense secretary. (ANI)

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