Foreign Policy Blogs

"It's Not My Fault": Rumsfeld Offers Bizarre Context To Iraq's Security Gains

Despite a number of high profile attacks directed at Iraqi Christians, the assassinations of bureaucratic and political officials and Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) attacks, that featured a 16-bomb day in November that left 70 dead in Baghdad, security incidents in Iraq have fallen by 20% over the past year.

Some how, some way, the US military, in partnership with their Iraqi colleagues, have achieved the lowest levels of violence since 2003. As American forces prepare for final departure over the course of the next year, the Iraqi troops’ burden to provide national security will increase. However, for the moment, all trends are pointing in the right direction.

Needless to say, many civilian Iraqis remain unconvinced that security has improved after nearly a decade of violence. Certainly, the situation has improved in 2006-2007 when the country was rocked by a monthly death toll of nearly 3000 souls – by some estimates the overall rate of violence has dropped by nearly 90% since that time.

According the Lt. General Richard Cone, deputy commander of US forces in Iraq:

“There are many indicators of violence: attack trends [and] casualty trends, but certainly by all measures we believe there was about a 20 percent decrease in 2010 from 2009…that’s not to say we are happy with the security environment, that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement.”

In the spirit of self-reflection on mistakes made during the Iraq War, former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld is busily promoting his 800 page new memoir, “Known and Unknown,” while defending the Bush administration’s most critical decisions. Appearing on the public circuit for the first time since stepping down in 2006, Rumsfeld has stated that none of the top officials lied about weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for the war.

"It's Not My Fault": Rumsfeld Offers Bizarre Context To Iraq's Security Gains

Rumsfeld’s defiance is based on his continued concern about the threat posed by Islamic extremism:

“Let there be no doubt, there are extremists out there who are determined to do damage to the United States of America and to kill Americans and to impose a caliphate over a large fraction of this globe,” he told Fox News. “And they have weapons of increasing lethality at their disposal and at their beck and call.”

From what I’ve read of the memoir (and I have neither the time nor the inclination to read 800 pages of revisionist history) it’s clear that Rumsfeld wants to settle some old scores while doing his best to distance himself from the myriad fiascos associated with his tenure at the helm of the Defense department. Naturally, he has no regrets for the Iraq War, stating that the region would be “far more perilous” with Saddam Hussein still in power and crediting Bush and an “aggressive, unrelenting offensive against the enemy” for preventing another 9/11.

Safer, perhaps, for Americans, but that assertion is highly debatable. How many Iraqi lives we’ve sacrificed to dispute the outcome of this war is unknown. For their sake, and Rumsfeld’s, I hope that the positive security trends continue. Their blood remains on his hands, and an 800 page apology probable wouldn’t have cut it. Of course, he’s written the “War and Peace” of defiance, which is oddly fitting after all these years and all this blood.



Reid Smith

Reid Smith has worked as a research associate specializing on U.S. policy in the Middle East and as a political speechwriter. He is currently a doctoral student and graduate associate with the University of Delaware's Department of Political Science and International Relations. He blogs and writes for The American Spectator.