Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush and responsible for commanding American strategies during the Cold War in the 1970s and, decades later, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, died this Tuesday (30) at his home in Taos, New Mexico, at age 88. The cause was multiple myeloma, according to a family spokesperson.
Rehearsals are rare in Washington, but Rumsfeld had the distinction of being the only defense chief to have served two non-consecutive terms: 1975-1977 under Ford and 2001-2006 under Bush. He was also the youngest, at 43, and the oldest, at 74, to hold the post, first in an era of Soviet-American nuclear danger, and then in a time of more subtle threat, from the terrorists and rogue states.
A staunch ally of former Vice President Dick Cheney, his protégé and friend for years, Rumsfeld was an inside fighter who seemed to enjoy conflict while challenging adversaries, members of Congress and military orthodoxies. In his second round, he was widely regarded as the most powerful Defense Secretary since Robert McNamara during the Vietnam War.
As his counterpart had done decades earlier, Rumsfeld waged a costly and divisive war in Iraq that destroyed his political life and outlived his role for many years. But unlike McNamara, who proposed “mea culpas” in a 2003 documentary, Rumsfeld did not admit serious mistakes and warned in a farewell speech at the Pentagon that leaving Iraq would be a terrible mistake.
“A conclusion drawn by our enemies that the United States does not have the will or the decision to carry out our missions, which require sacrifice and patience, is as dangerous as an imbalance of conventional military power.” , did he declare. “It may be heartwarming for some to envision graceful exits from the agonies and, indeed, the ugliness of combat. But the enemy thinks differently.”
In his memoirs, published in 2011, “Known and Unknown”, Rumsfeld, more than four years after leaving office, has still not regretted the decision to invade Iraq, which cost the United States 700 billion of dollars and 4,400 American lives, the impeachment of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had justified the effort. “Getting the region out of Saddam’s brutal regime has created a more stable and secure world,” he wrote.
Rumsfeld dismissed the question that the Iraq war diverted resources from Afghanistan, leading to a resurgence of the Taliban in the country. “It was precisely during the most difficult period of the Iraq war that Afghanistan, with the help of the coalition, took some of its most important steps towards a freer and better future,” he said. -he declares.
Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves