Donald Rumsfeld – the forceful U.S. Defense Secretary for two presidents and the main architect of the Iraq war under George W. Bush – has died at age 88, his family said on Wednesday.
Rumsfeld, who ranks one of 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, U.S. forces swiftly toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein but failed to maintain law and order in the aftermath, and Iraq descended into chaos and violence
“Stuff happens,” he told reporters in April 2003 amid rampant lawlessness in Baghdad after U.S. troops captured the Iraqi capital.
Rumsfeld played a leading role ahead of the war in making the case for the invasion. He warned of the dangers of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction but no such weapons were ever discovered.
And U.S. troops remained in Iraq long after he left his post. Rumsfeld- who also served as defense secretary for president Gerald Ford – also oversaw the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to oust the Taliban leaders who had harbored the al Qaeda leaders responsible for the Sept. 11 on the United States. 20 years later, the U.S. in the final process of pulling out of Afghanistan.
But U.S. forces during Rumsfeld’s tenure also were unable to track down Osama bin Laden. The al Qaeda chief slipped past a modest force of U.S. special operations troops and CIA officers along with allied Afghan fighters in the Afghan mountains of Tora Bora in December 2001. U.S. forces killed him in 2011.
Rumsfeld became a lightning rod for criticism and, with the Iraq war largely at a stalemate and public support eroding, Bush replaced him in November 2006.
In “Rumsfeld’s Rules,” his compilation of truisms dating to the 1970s: he wrote – “If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.” Another quote, equally apt, “It is easier to get into something than to get out of it.”