Former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
George W. Bush erred in seeking to institute democracy in Iraq over a decade ago, his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said earlier this week.
In an interview with The Times of London, Rumsfeld openly broke with his former boss, telling the newspaper that he was apprehensive over the administration’s plans following the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.
“I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories,” Rumsfeld told The Times. “The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. I was concerned about it when I first heard those words.”
Rumsfeld also told the newspaper that the Obama administration was failing to show global leadership, thus opening the door for Russian expansionism.
The former defense secretary added that the West made a mistake in removing Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya, a move that contributed to the destabilization of the Middle East.
Rumsfeld also expressed concern that the international community did not possess the tools to deal with Islamic extremism, a problem that will become more acute as the nation-state system collapses.
“The movement for a caliphate, the movement against nation states is central and fundamental,” he said. “And no one’s talking about it. Have you ever heard anyone at the UN begin to think about that concept?”
Rumsfeld said that it may take decades to combat Islamic fundamentalism. He said that it is incumbent on Western leaders to explicitly point out the nature of the threat.
“If leaders aren’t willing to do it, why the hell should a guy with a wife and kids in the community put himself at risk?” he asked.
“You begin to look at this thing not like a war but more like the Cold War ... you’re not going to win this with bullets, you’re in a competition of ideas."