Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that master of the tart zinger, now concedes he went too far with some. The man who more than any other in the Bush administration personified bravado and self-assuredness has come to regret saying "Stuff happens" about the early looting in postwar Iraq. He admits his quip about "old Europe" - meaning Germany and France - not supporting the use of force in Iraq was hardly deft diplomacy.
As for declaring, as he did in the first days after the invasion of Iraq, "We know where they are," referring to suspected stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction - well, Rumsfeld would like to take that one back, too.
But Rumsfeld still can't resist - in a memoir due out next week - taking a few pops at former secretaries of state Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice as well as at some lawmakers and journalists. He goes so far as to depict former president George W. Bush as presiding over a national security process that was marked by incoherent decision-making and policy drift, most damagingly on the war in Iraq.
Much of Rumsfeld's retrospective reinforces earlier accounts of a dysfunctional National Security Council riven by tensions between the Pentagon and State Department, which many critics outside and within the Bush administration have blamed on him. Speaking out for the first time since his departure from office four years ago, the former Pentagon leader offers a vigorous explanation of his own thoughts and actions and is making available on his Web site (www.rumsfeld.com) many previously classified or private documents.
Sounding characteristically tough and defiant in the 800-page autobiography "Known and Unknown," Rumsfeld remains largely unapologetic about his overall handling of the Iraq conflict and concludes that the war has been worth the costs. Had the government of Saddam Hussein remained in power, he says, the Middle East would be "far more perilous than it is today."
Addressing charges that he failed to provide enough troops for the war, he allows that, "In retrospect, there may have been times when more troops could have helped." But he insists that if senior military officers had reservations about the size of the invading force, they never informed him. And as the conflict wore on, he says, U.S. commanders, even when pressed repeatedly for their views, did not ask him for more troops or disagree with the strategy.
Read more at The Washington Post.