Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld slammed President Obama’s “minimalist” approach in seeking congressional approval for a limited airstrike against Syria. Rumsfeld said he favors a decision to force a regime change–or no action at all.
“The president is not in my view providing the kind of leadership that I think almost any president in my adult lifetime would be providing,” said Rumsfeld on Tuesday at the Ford Presidential museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“You can’t have 535 members of Congress making decisions that a commander in chief needs to make,” he said.
As one of the architects of the Iraq war under the George W. Bush administration, he pressed the United States to invade Iraq, citing faulty intelligence as evidence. Apart from questions about the decision to go to war, Rumsfeld’s military strategy and tactics have been widely criticized.
Undaunted, Rumsfeld believes he knows the answer when it comes to Syria: the Obama administration should go big or stay home. “I’m at the point where if someone walking down the street or in an elevator said, ‘What do you think?’ I would say immediately, ‘You either ought to change the regime or you ought to do nothing.’ Why would you go in and fire a shot across the bow? All it does is make a splash. What have you achieved?” said Rumsfeld. “What you’ve probably achieved, if you approach it from a minimalist standpoint, what you’ve probably achieved is the embarrassment of the United States for being feckless and ineffective.”
The Republican was complimentary about John Kerry’s “compelling and and persuasive” arguments towards the growing crisis.
On Tuesday, Kerry said the president wants lawmakers’ approval to “degrade” the Syrian regime’s influence, not head into a full-fledged war after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians.
“President Obama is not asking America to go to war,” said Kerry, making the administration’s case at a hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “He’s simply saying we need to take an action that can degrade the capacity of a man who’s willing to kill his own people.”
A new Pew Research Center poll found nearly half of the country– 48 % of Americans– oppose airstrikes in Syria.
The Obama administration needs to drum up more support from its own party, according to the study. Only 29% of Democrats support airstrikes and 48% aren’t behind that kind of move. Among Republicans, reactions are more split with 35% in support and 40% against.