More than a decade after the Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that he never bought into the idea of democratizing the country.
The man who once talked about the breakdown of Iraqi society by saying “stuff happens” and “freedom is untidy” told the Times of London on Friday that he didn’t agree with President George W. Bush about spreading democracy in the Middle East.
“The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. I was concerned about it when I first heard those words,” Rumsfeld told the newspaper.
“I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories,” he added.
This, of course, was the official policy of the administration he served.
“A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions,” President Bush said in a 2003 speech.
At the time, Rumsfeld said that the U.S. would “help pave the way for a new Iraqi government, a government that will be chosen by the Iraqi people, not by anyone else.”
Referencing the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group, Rumsfeld told the Times on Friday that he now takes a broader view of what the Bush administration called the War on Terror.
“You begin to look at this thing not like a war, but more like the Cold War… you’re not going to win this with bullets, you’re in a competition of ideas,” he said.