The Jerusalem Post

Ex-US defense secretary Rumsfeld dead at 88

Led initial success in Afghanista­n, Iraq followed by unrest • Served twice in post


Donald Rumsfeld, a forceful US defense secretary who was the main architect of the Iraq war until US president George W. Bush replaced him as the country found itself bogged down after 3-1/2 years of fighting, died at age 88, his family said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfathe­r and great grandfathe­r,” the statement said. “At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico.”

Rumsfeld, who ranks with Vietnam War-era defense secretary Robert McNamara as the most powerful men to hold the post, brought charisma and bombast to the Pentagon job, projecting the Bush administra­tion’s muscular approach to world affairs.

With Rumsfeld in charge, US forces swiftly toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein but failed to maintain law and order in the aftermath, and Iraq descended into chaos with a bloody insurgency and violence between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. US troops remained in Iraq until 2011, long after he left his post.

Rumsfeld played a leading role ahead of the war in making the case to the world for the March 2003 invasion. He warned of the dangers of Iraqi weapons of mass destructio­n but no such weapons were ever discovered.

Rumsfeld was known for imperious treatment of some military officers and members of Congress and infighting with other members of the Bush team, including former secretary of state Colin Powell. He also alienated US allies in Europe.

In 2004, Bush twice refused to accept Rumsfeld’s offer to resign after photos surfaced of US personnel abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.

Rumsfeld personally authorized harsh interrogat­ion techniques for detainees. The US treatment of detainees in Iraq and foreign terrorism suspects at a special prison set up under Rumsfeld at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, drew internatio­nal condemnati­on, with human rights activists and others saying prisoners were tortured.

“Stuff happens,” he told reporters in April 2003 amid rampant lawlessnes­s in Baghdad after US troops captured the Iraqi capital.

During his time away from public service, Rumsfeld became wealthy as a successful businessma­n, serving as chief executive of two Fortune 500 companies. In 1988, he briefly ran for the Republican US presidenti­al nomination.

Rumsfeld also served as a Navy pilot, Washington’s NATO ambassador and was elected to the House of Representa­tives. He and wife Joyce had three children. (Reuters)

 ?? (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) ?? THEN-US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld (left) waves to wellwisher­s alongside then-US president George W. Bush in 2006.
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) THEN-US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld (left) waves to wellwisher­s alongside then-US president George W. Bush in 2006.

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