Rumsfeld admits `possible` Iraq troop mistakes

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 14:25

Washington: Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld releases his new memoir Tuesday, as he concedes his Iraq troop decisions may have been wrong while sparing no criticism of former colleagues.

In "Known and Unknown," Rumsfeld defends his handling of the war and recounts his government career serving Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush.

The former defense secretary was reluctant to endorse Bush`s assessment that the decision to draw down US troops shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq was "the most important failure in the execution of the war."

"I don`t have enough confidence to say that that`s right. I think that it`s possible," Rumsfeld told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.

"We had (an) enormous number of troops ready to go in. They had -- we had off-ramps, if they weren`t needed.

"It`s hard to know. You know, the path you didn`t take is always smoother," he added.

The former Pentagon chief`s comments came in his first television interview since leaving public life in December 2006 after a long and divisive tenure at the Pentagon.

They largely echoed his memoir, in which he laid blame for much of the failings and heavy bloodshed of the Iraq war on "too many hands on the steering wheel."

Rumsfeld, who served as Bush`s defense chief for six years after holding the the same job under president Gerald Ford in the 1970s, acknowledged that "in a war, many things cost lives."
But he had no regrets about his leadership of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the latter now nearing its 10th anniversary.

He refused to echo the regrets of another domineering defense secretary -- the late Robert McNamara -- who came to describe the Vietnam War as "terribly wrong."
"That`s not the case with Iraq," Rumsfeld countered.

"I think the world`s a better place with Saddam Hussein gone and with the Taliban gone and the Al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan," he added, insisting the Bush administration`s decision to invade Iraq in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States was "incremental," not rushed.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 14:25

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