Bush never asked me on invading Iraq: Rumsfeld
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Last Updated: Tuesday, February 08, 2011, 22:31
New York: Donald Rumsfeld, who as Defense Secretary led the United States military in two wars, says his President George W Bush did not ask him whether invading Iraq was the right action, in his memoirs that are also critical of former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

In his exhaustive book 'Known and Unknown', Rumsfeld is critical of many of his former colleagues and says that he wanted to quit following the Abu Ghraib human rights scandal but his resignation was vetoed by the President.

In the account, that the Los Angeles Times describes as one about "shifting blame and settling scores", Rumsfeld writes that Bush never asked him whether invading Iraq was the right course to take.

"While President Bush and I had many discussions about the war preparations, I do not recall his ever asking me if I thought going to war with Iraq was the right decision," he writes.

The President was the one charged with the tough choice to commit US forces.

"I did not speculate on the thought process that brought him to his ultimate, necessarily lonely decision," reads the excerpt.

The former Defence Secretary who also served during Richard Nixon's presidency laid the blame for much of the failings of the Iraq war on "too many hands on the steering wheel."

Former Secretary of State and former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice too comes under attack for her "bridging" approach in the book, excerpts of which were carried in The Wall Street Journal today.

Referring to Rice's policy of bridging difference between foreign policy advisers of President Bush, Rumsfeld writes, "This bridging approach could temporarily mollify the (National Security Council) principals, but it also led to discontent, since fundamental differences remained unaddressed and unresolved by the president".

Indeed, he says, an unfortunate consequence was that when important and controversial issues did not get resolved in a timely manner, they sometimes ended up being argued in the press by unnamed, unhappy lower-level officials.

"I doubt this would have been the case had the President been asked to make a clear-cut decision," he wrote.

Rumsfeld also criticises Rice for her management of the National Security Council.

"Often meetings were not well organised. Frequent last-minute changes to the times of meetings and to the subject matter made it difficult for the participants to prepare, and even more difficult," he says.

At the conclusion of NSC meetings when decisions were taken, members of the NSC staff were theoretically supposed to write a summary of conclusions.

"When I saw them, they were often sketchy and didn't always fit with my recollections," he writes.

In the book, Rumsfeld also says that he wanted to resign in the wake revelations of abuse and mistreatment of prisoners in the Iraqi detention facility of Abu Ghraib.

"'Mr President, the Department of Defense will be better off if I resign,' I insisted. 'That's not true,' he responded, tossing the letter across the table back to me. I told the president my mind was made up.

"Nonetheless, he insisted that he wanted some time to think about it and to consult with others. The next day, Vice President Cheney came to the Pentagon. "'Don, 35 years ago this week, I went to work for you,' he said, 'and on this one you're wrong'. In the end, Bush refused to accept my resignation," he writes.


First Published: Tuesday, February 08, 2011, 22:31

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