Donald Rumsfeld, the cocksure and unrepentant protection secretary who led the United States into struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan, has died, his household introduced Wednesday. He was 88.
In cost of the US army for many of George W. Bush’s presidency, Rumsfeld was cussed and brash, famously dismissing widespread looting after US troops captured Baghdad by quipping, “Stuff happens.”
For thousands and thousands who took to the streets to denounce the struggle in Iraq, Rumsfeld and vp Dick Cheney had been emblematic of what was seen as excesses in Bush’s “war on terror,” together with the indefinite detention of suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the abuse of Iraqis by US jailers at Abu Ghraib jail.
The former congressman’s model of hawkish politics ultimately fell from favor as politicians from either side turned on “forever wars,” and the troops he first despatched to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 assaults will make their closing withdrawal weeks after his demise.
His household mentioned that Rumsfeld — who after resigning in 2006 not solely spent years defending his legacy but additionally dabbling in software program and even releasing a solitaire app — died in Taos, New Mexico, and described “the integrity he brought to a life dedicated to the country.”
Bush known as his protection secretary, whom he defiantly stored in his cupboard till rival Democrats received management of Congress in 2006, “an exemplary public servant and a very good man.”
“He was a faithful steward of our armed forces, and the United States of America is safer and better off for his service,” Bush mentioned, with out straight mentioning the choice to invade Iraq
Rumsfeld had clamored to take away Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, pushing quickly after the autumn of Afghanistan’s Taliban to maneuver into Iraq, the place he advised there have been weapons of mass destruction and maybe hyperlinks to terrorist teams.
Asked in 2002 concerning the lack of proof, Rumsfeld gave maybe his most memorable assertion.
“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know,” he mentioned.
“We also know there are known unknowns — that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
A consummate bureaucratic infighter, Rumsfeld was one of many longest serving protection secretaries in US historical past, holding the place for greater than seven years in stints each underneath Bush and, greater than 20 years earlier, Gerald Ford.
Born in Chicago, Rumsfeld confirmed his combative streak from an early age, changing into an completed wrestler and taking part in as a defensive again on an American soccer workforce when he went to Princeton University.
He served as a pilot and flight teacher within the Navy throughout the early days of the Cold War earlier than being elected to Congress on the age of solely 30.
Representing Illinois, Rumsfeld was initially identified for his moderation and supported civil rights measures for African-Americans. But he rapidly turned his consideration to army affairs and have become deeply involved concerning the conduct of the Vietnam War.
He had been the youngest individual ever to grow to be protection secretary in 1975 on the age of 43 and, when tapped by Bush, turned the oldest on the time, seen as a gradual presence for an untested president.
‘War on terror’ transformation
He was within the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 when airliners commandeered by Al-Qaeda hijackers flew into the World Trade Center in New York after which the Pentagon, killing practically 3,000 individuals within the deadliest terrorist assault ever on US soil.
In lower than a month, he launched US forces in a struggle in opposition to Al-Qaeda that toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in December 2001 and redesigned the army for the “war on terrorism,” pulling again forces prepared for conventional fight in Europe.
Many Americans embraced his tough-guy persona throughout the Afghan struggle, but it surely light within the lead-up to Iraq.
Just weeks earlier than the invasion, Rumsfeld dismissed a warning by the military chief of employees that a number of hundred thousand troops had been required to occupy Iraq, calling the estimate “far from the mark.”
In remarks that may show prophetic, Rumsfeld advised reporters it was “not knowable” what number of troops could be wanted, saying they didn’t “have any idea whether or not there would be ethnic strife.”
The United States invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 with a power of fewer than 100,000 troops. Baghdad fell rapidly, and Saddam’s regime collapsed amid an orgy of looting.
But the failure to commit sufficient troops to safe the nation turned seen as a central mistake, resulting in intense civil struggle during which a whole bunch of hundreds of civilians died.
With Saddam’s Baath Party disbanded, Sunni Muslims launched an insurgency that may later be the basis of the brutal Islamic State group as the bulk Shiites took the reins of energy with backing from Iran.
Rumsfeld lengthy defended the struggle. But in his memoir, “Known and Unknown,” he regretted that Bush didn’t settle for his resignation after footage emerged of jail abuse in Abu Ghraib, saying he had grow to be a “dangerous distraction.”
“More than anything else I have failed to do, and even amid my pride in the many important things we did accomplish, I regret that I did not leave at that point.”