Rumsfeld’s memoir: It was their fault

Known and Unknown, Rumsfeld's 815-page memoir, lays out his view of the Iraq War.

Poor Donald Rumsfeld, said Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times. Through decades of public service in Washington, he has borne the wearisome burden “of always being the smartest guy in the room.” That’s the core message of Rumsfeld’s “exhausting, exasperating, but vigorously written” new memoir, Known and Unknown. Rumsfeld, who ran the Pentagon for George W. Bush during the worst days of the Iraq war, uses most of the 815 pages for “shifting blame and settling scores.” He does not hide his contempt for National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, whom he describes as an inexperienced, wishy-washy academic. Why did “murderous chaos” engulf post-invasion Iraq? Because civilian administrator Paul Bremer dissolved the Iraqi army too soon. Why weren’t enough U.S. troops deployed to prevent a full-blown insurgency? Because the generals never asked for them. Rumsfeld even slips in “more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger” criticism of Bush himself, suggesting that he often failed to demand the best information before indulging in impulse-driven decisions.

In fairness, Rumsfeld does admit to some regrets, said Bradley Graham in The Washington Post. He concedes that “Stuff happens” was not the ideal response to widespread looting after Baghdad fell. He wishes he’d never said, “We know where they are,” when asked about WMDs, which were the key justification—though, Rumsfeld insists, far from the only one—for invading Iraq. He regrets the international embarrassment of Abu Ghraib. There’s even a rare flash of self-deprecation, said Howard Kurtz in Twelve hours after a plane plowed into the Pentagon on 9/11, Rumsfeld’s spokeswoman asked him whether he’d called his wife, and he admitted he hadn’t. “You son of a bitch,” she said. “She had a point,” Rumsfeld writes.

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