T Nation

Donald Rumsfeld


here is my favorite rumsfeld quote:

"as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

sometimes it's in your best interest not to share any information (or lack of).

i'm not going to bite


Memorable Quotes by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

"I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started."

"We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead."

"Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."

"I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said."

"The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." -on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

"If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I'm disinclined to mislead anyone."

"There's another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist."

"Well, um, you know, something's neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so, I suppose, as Shakespeare said."

"Secretary Powell and I agree on every single issue that has ever been before this administration except for those instances where Colin's still learning."

"Learn to say 'I don't know.' If used when appropriate, it will be often."

"I don't know what the facts are but somebody's certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know."

"As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

"I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty."

"I don't do quagmires."

"I don't do diplomacy."

"I don't do foreign policy."

"I don't do predictions."

"I don't do numbers."

"I don't do book reviews."

"Now, settle down, settle down. Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning and I'm gathering my thoughts here."

"If I know the answer I'll tell you the answer, and if I don't, I'll just respond, cleverly."


He does have a way with words.


Rumsfeld is a funny guy.


He is also a mean motherfucker.

I have a friend/co-worker whose father roomed with Rummy at a wrestling camp back when Rummy was in the Naval Academey.

He claims the Rummy was the dirtiest/meanist wrestler in the camp.

As soon as Rummy was appointed Sec of Def my buddy told me his father predicted we would be at war soon because Rummy was such a mean bastard.

He was right.


Here's some better ones:

"If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much. "
Donald H. Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense

Well, the president's policy is dead or alive. And, you know, I have my preference. 11/21/01

Q: What about the the public who -- you know, beyond the criticism from human rights organizations for using the cluster bombs, they're calling for a halt -- could you explain the tactical rationale for using them?

Rumsfeld: They are being used on front-line all Qaeda and Taliban troops to try to kill them, is why we're using them, to be perfectly blunt. 11/1/01

"We're not running out of targets. Afghanistan is."


Perfectly blunt, perfectly incompetent. Worst Secretary of Defense since McNamara. And as for great quotes, how about his line on the rioting and looting in Baghdad as "freedom is messy"? If that doesn't typify the arrogance and incompetence of the Pentagon during the Iraq War, I don't know what does.


I also think Rumsfeld is terrible, too. I think he's the #1 reason why things are dragging on in Iraq. Rumsfeld forced the military to do the war planning his way, rather than use their professional expertise. Rumsfeld is not a military expert.


If he is not, no one is.


Um, he's not. He is ruining the Army right now, if worst comes to worst it may take years to recover from the damage this war has wrought, because Rumsfeld willfully ignored all the post-war planning done by other agencies, and is much more concerned with "transforming" the military than winning in Iraq. By the accounts of some insiders, he is "bored" with Iraq. If you like, I can PM you a much longer rant with plentiful links on what a disaster this Pentagon has been.


The Army has been set up to fight the cold war. Rummy has tried to change it.

The initial successes in Iraq and Afghanistan were a result of Rummy pushing them to do it his way. The tradional Army came in and fucked things up in Afghanistan (Operation Anaconda and Tora Bora).

Rummy has lots of enemies in the Pentagon. They hate him because he is forcing change.

You must remember that it was the Pentagon that allowed the Hummers to go to Iraq without armor, not the admin.

This was a situation the Pentagon should have dealt with years ago but they have wanted the sexy big ticket weapons systems not reliable and powerful personal weapons and armor for the troops.

Don't believe all the criticism from the Pentagon. It is full of backstabbing bastards just trying to protect their careers and get another star.


Everybody but the politicians in the White House are liars, right?


This military is still set up to fight the last war. Ralph Peters, a retired Lt. Colonel and respected voice on these issues, notes that here (although I wouldn't read the whole thing, he goes a bit off the deep end at the halfway mark, but his initial point is dead on):


Um, it's Rumsfeld's Pentagon. He had been in charge for over two years prior to Iraq, and the administration had been mulling invasion before September 11. Virtually any failures in planning the Iraq invasion must be left at his feet. And that's leaving aside the whole issue of the post-war state of Iraq, an issue that had been heavily studied by agencies like the State Department and CIA, whose planning was then subsequently ignored by DoD.

Wow. You actually have it completely backwards here. Rumsfeld's vision of technological "transformation" (shades of McNamara) is driving the defense budget, which is focused on new weapons systems and increased digitization, not troop benefits, or, most important of all, more troops.

See here:

That's the biggest problem with Rumsfeld's Pentagon, that is has been steadfastly against increasing the size of the Army and Marines despite the fact that we're incredibly overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, still don't have the men in either country to get the job done, and have no strategic reserve.



I am not an expert, but wasn't it Rummy's idea to have a light, fast-moving army race to Baghdad? I read that he only wanted to take 30,000 troops there, in contrast to the much higher numbers that Colin Powell and others called for. Doesn't the current mess owe much to the initial lack of security - i.e. not having enough troops to secure the country?


30,000 might be a little lower than even he wanted, but yeah, basically.


I do give this to the man, he is blunt. And we sure as hell need more people who don't BS around the issue.


Yes. Most in the Pentagon didn't think they would make it to Baghdad. They thought the drive would stall and they would need more divisions to get there.


Rumsfeld thought we could reduce troop levels to 30,000 within six months. Is it possible that he could have been any more wrong?

I want Rumsfeld's job security. If I ever fucked up on the job as badly as he has, I would have been fired in a New York minute.

It sure sounds cool to describe Rumsfeld as an outsider who is there to shake up the status quo at the Pentagon. Rumsfeld is nothing but a crony and a jackass. He's not a military expert, yet he is telling career generals and West Point war planners how to prosecute the war, and overriding their plans. Rumsfeld is responsible for the war dragging out, costing tens of billions extra in taxpayer dollars, hundreds of unnecessary deaths of US troops, and thousands of unnecessary injuries.


The drive did stall, for about a week, or week and a half. US troops were stretched out along the road to Baghdad, waiting for fuel and supplies. Maybe you didn't follow the invasion that closely and don't remember. Luckily for us the Iraqi forces were almost non-existant and provided almost zero resistance (begging the question, why did we invade in the first place, when their military was a joke. Iraq obviously wasn't a military threat to anyone but themselves).


Rummy went to the Naval Academy. Much of his life he has been associated with military/defense affairs.

To portray him as anything less than an expert is foolish.

The drive to Baghdad was stalled for 2 reasons. A sandstorm and logistic difficulties due to irregular harrasment of our supply lines.

Our casualties were minimal.

The drive for Baghdad is one of the greatest feats in our military history.

As to drawing down troop levels, perhaps it should have been done long ago. More troops equal more targets for the terrorists.

The Iraqis should have been made responsible for their own security faster. Unfortunately due to many political considerations we were forced to disband the Iraqi Army and most other Shiite/Baathist dominated institutions.

The Pentagon weenies have had their knives out for Rummy since day one. He made very clear he was going to change the makeup of the armed forces since his firsy day in office. They obviously felt threated because many of them still wanted to fight the last war and not the next war.

This is age old politics.

Rummy is not perfect, but to pretend he is incompetent is stupid.