Donald Rumsfeld comes to Jesus -- 12 years later: Now he admits George W. Bush was wrong about Iraq

The former defense secretary still won't own up to his role in the Iraq fiasco, though

By Sophia Tesfaye
Published June 9, 2015 7:04PM (EDT)

Donald Rumsfeld is finally admitting that the spread of democracy in Iraq following the war was "unrealistic." But don't get too confused, Rumsfeld doesn't regret the initial decision to invade Iraq, he just blames President George W. Bush for setting an unattainable agenda of nation building in the war ravaged nation.

In a new interview with The Times of London, the former Department of Defense head under George W. Bush, signaled that he had been against the goals laid out by the Bush administration beyond the seizure of WMDS all along, claiming, "I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories.” Rumsfeld made clear, “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.”
But this isn't the first time the former Iraq war architect has copped to "mistakes" in Iraq. In 2011, while promoting his memoir, "Known and Unknown," Rumsfeld cautioned against the U.S. military's role as nation builder, calling it "silly," and said he took responsibility for the abuse scandal at the Iraqi prison, Abu Grahib, but denied it was his fault. From an interview with CBS News' David Martin:

MARTIN: Did you feel it was your fault?


MARTIN: You were responsible, but it wasn't your fault?

RUMSFELD: Sure ... Exactly

Rumsfeld's direct jab at the Bush administration (of which he was a crucial part) is a departure from other recent attempts to revise the history of the Iraq war by Republicans. Some Republicans, namely the executed neocons, have seized upon the rise of ISIS in Iraq to attack President Obama and critics of the war. In an effort to defend his brother, expected GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, slammed President Obama for following the Status of Forces agreement set by former President Bush to withdrawal U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. Bush ignored the agreement to argue that Obama "could have kept the troops in and he could have had an agreement," adding "the United States had enough influence to be able to deal with the immunity issue."

For his part, it was Rumsfeld's understanding all along that Iraq was meant to be invaded by the U.S. but not rebuilt by the U.S. Former commander of the Army Transportation Corps, Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid claimed that Rumsfeld threatened to fire any Pentagon officials planning for the rebuilding phase of the war.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld George W. Bush Iraq War Pentagon