Bush never asked me on invading Iraq: Rumsfeld

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 8, 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.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 22:31

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