[pjw] NEWS: Donald Rumsfeld, defense secretary for GW Bush, dies

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Wed Jun 30 17:14:22 EDT 2021

Iraq Affinity Group supporters

I wasn't sure whether to send out this news about Donald Rumsfeld dying, 
but was alarmed at the Denver Post headline (on an AP story) that popped 
up when I did a web search: "Donald Rumsfeld, a cunning leader undermined 
by Iraq war, dies at 88." Cunning leader? Undermined by the illegal war he 
championed? Really?

You go to the afterlife with the human rights record you have, not the one 
you wish you had.

(To coin a phrase.)
dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

Donald Rumsfeld, a cunning leader undermined by Iraq war, dies at 88
    By Robert Burns | The Associated Press
    PUBLISHED: June 30, 2021 at 2:26 p.m. | UPDATED: June 30, 2021 at 2:34

    WASHINGTON -- Calling Donald H. Rumsfeld energetic was like calling the
    Pacific wide. When others would rest, he would run. While others sat,
    he stood. But try as he might, at the pinnacle of his career as defense
    secretary he could not outmaneuver the ruinous politics of the Iraq

    Regarded by former colleagues as equally smart and combative, patriotic
    and politically cunning, Rumsfeld had a storied career in government
    under four presidents and nearly a quarter century in corporate
    America. After retiring in 2008 he headed the Rumsfeld Foundation to
    promote public service and to work with charities that provide services
    and support for military families and wounded veterans.

    The two-time defense secretary and one-time presidential candidate died
    Tuesday. He was 88.

    "Rummy," as he was often called, was ambitious, witty, engaging and
    capable of great personal warmth. But he irritated many with his
    confrontational style. An accomplished wrestler in college, Rumsfeld
    relished verbal sparring and elevated it to an art form; a biting humor
    was a favorite weapon.

    Still, he built a network of loyalists who admired his work ethic,
    intelligence and impatience with all who failed to share his sense of

    From his earliest years in Washington he was seen by friend and foe
    alike as a formidable political force. An associate of President
    Richard Nixon, Bryce Harlow, who helped persuade Rumsfeld to resign
    from Congress and join the Nixon Cabinet as director of the Office of
    Economic Opportunity in 1969, called him "rough and ready, willing to
    tangle" and "the kind of guy who would walk on a blue flame to get a
    job done."

    Rumsfeld is the only person to serve twice as Pentagon chief. The first
    time, in 1975-77, he was the youngest ever. The next time, in 2001-06,
    he was the oldest.

    He made a brief run for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination, a
    spectacular flop that he once described as humbling for a man used to
    success at the highest levels of the government, including stints as
    White House chief of staff, U.S. ambassador and member of Congress.

    For all Rumsfeld's achievements, it was the setbacks in Iraq in the
    twilight of his career that will likely etch the most vivid features of
    his legacy.

    By the time he arrived at the Pentagon in January 2001 for his second
    stint as defense secretary, the military that Rumsfeld inherited was in
    a slow-motion transition from the Cold War era to a period dominated by
    ethnic conflicts in the Balkans, humanitarian crises in the Horn of
    Africa and spasms of terrorism. Among the other prominent worries:
    China's military buildup and the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North

    But nine months into his tenure, on Sept. 11, Rumsfeld found himself
    literally face-to-face with the threat that would consume the remaining
    years of his tenure. When a hijacked American Airlines jetliner slammed
    into the Pentagon, Rumsfeld was in his third-floor office meeting with
    nine House members. He later recalled that at the instant of impact,
    the small wood table at which they were working trembled.

    Rumsfeld was among the first to reach the smoldering crash site, and he
    helped carry the wounded in stretchers before returning to his duties
    inside the building.

    The nation suddenly was at war. U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan on Oct.
    7, and with Rumsfeld at the Pentagon helm the Taliban regime was
    toppled within weeks. Frequently presiding at televised briefings on
    the war, Rumsfeld became something of a TV star, admired for his

    Within months of that success, President George W. Bush's attention
    shifted to Iraq, which played no role in the Sept. 11 attacks. Rumsfeld
    and others in the administration asserted that Iraqi President Saddam
    Hussein was armed with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, and
    that the U.S. could not afford the risk of Saddam one day providing
    some of those arms to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.

    The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched in March 2003 with a
    go-ahead from Congress but no authorization by the U.N. Security
    Council. Baghdad fell quickly, but U.S. and allied forces soon became
    consumed with a violent insurgency. Critics faulted Rumsfeld for
    dismissing the public assessment of the Army's top general, Eric
    Shinseki, that several hundred thousand allied troops would be needed
    to stabilize Iraq.

    Square-jawed with an acid tongue, Rumsfeld grew combative in defense of
    the war effort and became the lightning rod for Democrats' criticism.
    Years afterward, the degree of blame that should be shared among the
    White House, Rumsfeld and the U.S. military for the disasters in Iraq
    remained in debate.

    In his 2009 biography of Rumsfeld, author Bradley Graham wrote that it
    was "both incorrect and unfair to heap singular blame" on Rumsfeld for

    "But much of what befell Rumsfeld resulted from his own behavior,"
    Graham wrote in "By His Own Rules." "He is apt to be remembered as much
    for how he did things as for what he did. And here, too, he was an
    internal contradiction. Capable of genuine charm, kindness and grace,
    he all too frequently came across as brusque and domineering, often
    alienating others and making enemies where he needed friends."

    In his 2011 memoir, "Known and Unknown," Rumsfeld offered no hint of
    regret about Iraq, but acknowledged that its future remained in doubt.

    "While the road not traveled always looks smoother, the cold reality of
    a Hussein regime in Baghdad most likely would mean a Middle East far
    more perilous than it is today," he wrote. He sounded unconvinced that
    the failure to find WMD in Iraq poked a hole in the justification for

    "Our failure to confront Iraq would have sent a message to other
    nations that neither America nor any other nation was willing to stand
    in the way of their support for terrorism and pursuit of weapons of
    mass destruction," he wrote.

    Rumsfeld twice offered his resignation to Bush in 2004 amid disclosures
    that U.S. troops had abused detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison -- an
    episode he later referred to as his darkest hour as defense secretary.

    Not until November 2006, after Democrats gained control of Congress by
    riding a wave of antiwar sentiment, did Bush finally decide Rumsfeld
    had to go. He left office in December, replaced by another Republican,
    Robert Gates. Defiant to the end, Rumsfeld expressed no regrets in his
    farewell ceremony, at which point the U.S. death toll in Iraq had
    surpassed 2,900. The count would eventually exceed 4,400.

    "It may well be comforting to some to consider graceful exits from the
    agonies and, indeed, the ugliness of combat," he told his colleagues.
    "But the enemy thinks differently."


    Born in Chicago as the second child of George and Jeannette Rumsfeld,
    Rumsfeld wrote in his memoir that he and his father shared a favorite
    sports team: the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. He
    recalled that while listening to a Bears game on the radio at home one
    Sunday in 1941, the announcer interrupted the broadcast to announce
    that Japanese airplanes had launched a surprise attack on Hawaii.

    Rumsfeld was 9 years old.

    "I could feel that something terrible had happened," he wrote. "I saw
    it in my parents' faces and heard it in the tense voices reporting the
    news of the attack."

    After Pearl Harbor, Rumsfeld's father joined the Navy at age 38 and the
    family moved frequently to be near him on the West Coast.

    In high school he met his future wife, Joyce Pierson. He entered
    Princeton on a partial scholarship and joined the campus Navy ROTC
    program to cover his other expenses. In June 1954, Rumsfeld graduated
    and was commissioned an ensign in the Navy. Six months later he married

    He launched his Washington career in 1957 by signing up as an assistant
    to Rep. Dave Dennison, R-Ohio. Soon he was serving as a congressman
    himself, first elected to represent Illinois in 1962. He served four

    One of his early acts as a member of the Nixon White House was to hire
    a young Dick Cheney, starting a lifelong friendship.

    Rumsfeld was working as the U.S. ambassador to NATO in Brussels,
    Belgium, when he was recalled to Washington to lead President Gerald
    Ford's transition team after Nixon resigned in August 1974. He became
    the new president's chief of staff and then, in November 1975, his
    defense secretary.

    After leaving the Pentagon in 1977, Rumsfeld embarked on a successful
    business career in the private sector, including as chief executive
    officer, president and then chairman of G.D. Searle & Co., a major
    prescription drug manufacturer.

    He still dabbled in government service, including serving as a special
    envoy to the Middle East for President Ronald Reagan in 1983-84. It was
    in that capacity that he famously met in Baghdad in December 1983 with
    Saddam, whose nation at the time was at war with Iran.

    "None of us in the Reagan administration bore any illusions about
    Saddam," Rumsfeld wrote in his memoir. "Like most despots, his career
    was forged in conflict and hardened by bloodshed. He had used chemical
    toxins in the war he initiated with Iran three years earlier. But given
    the reality of the Middle East, then as now, America often had to deal
    with rulers who were deemed `less bad' than the others."

    Two decades later, Rumsfeld was again dealing with Saddam -- this time
    overseeing an invasion that toppled the tyrant and led, ironically, to
    Rumsfeld's own downfall.

    He is survived by his wife, Joyce, three children and grandchildren.

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