from our correspondent
WASHINGTON — Donald Rumsfeld, one of the rockiest defense ministers in recent American history, he died yesterday at the age of 88, in Taos, the town where he had retired in New Mexico. was one of George W. Bush’s mastiffs. The military supervisor of the invasion of Iraq. He theorized, along with then Vice President Dick Cheney and the neocons, that the United States had the right to defend its interests anywhere in the world, even with preventive warfare. Rumsfeld served twice as Secretary of Defense, first with Gerald Ford, between 1975 and 1977, and then with Bush son, from 2001 to 2006.
Born in Chicago in 1932, from a family of German origin, studied at Princeton University, Donald began his public career as a pilot in the Navy. In 1958 he enters the orbit of the president, the former general Dwight Eisenhower. In 1962, at the age of thirty, he was already a deputy for the Republicans. He stands out for criticism of democratic administrations’ handling of the Vietnam war. He later works for Nixon, but his moment comes with the presidency of Ford. Become first chief of staff and then secretary of defense. in those years that the partnership with Cheney was born. Rumsfeld hires him as a young shopkeeper at the Oval Office, but takes him everywhere.
A little-remembered episode dates back to 1974, when the two sit in a Washington restaurant with the economist Arthur Laffer who drew the curve that still bears his name on a napkin. It was one of the basic theorems of the liberalists: cutting taxes does not mean losing tax revenue. But Rumsfeld’s (and Cheney’s) calling was another. The world learns about him after September 11, 2001. That day, he told himself, he was so furious that for a few hours he rushed to help the rescuers, outside the Pentagon hit by one of the hijacked planes.
The American reaction, with the war in Afghanistan and then that in Iraq, matured in a small circle formed by Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. The decision to invade Iraq, in particular, it was traumatic and lacerated Europe and the Atlantic Alliance. It turned out that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, as Powell announced in a famous session of the UN Security Council. The abuses of Iraqi prisoners in the obscene Abu Ghraib prisons were discovered. Rumsfeld, on that occasion, showed up in the Oval Office e offers resignation to George Bush. Rejected.
But years later, the former head of the Pentagon he continued to defend the merit, the underlying reasons for those wars. In his memoir, published in 2011, Known and Unkown (What we know and what we don’t know) argued that the conflict in Iraq had still liberated the world from a brutal dictator like Saddam, creating a more stable and safer situation. It didn’t quite happen that way, actually. Two years later Rumsfeld agreed to literally put his face on it, participating in the documentary film by Errol Morris: The Unkown Known.
A vaguely Socratic title: what we think we don’t know and instead know. In the film, presented at the Venice Film Festival in 2013, Rumsfeld produced the latest apology for an era that has now faded in fact. In Afghanistan the Taliban ruled; in Syria, and soon in Iraq, ISIS was appearing. In the White House was Barack Obama; the doctrine of the export of democracy had already ended up in the attic.
June 30, 2021 (change June 30, 2021 | 23:20)
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