Donald Rumsfeld

(b. 1932)

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(b. 9 Jul. 1932).

US Secretary of Defense, 1975–7, 2001–6 Born in Chicago, Rumsfeld attended Princeton and joined the US navy in 1954. In 1957, he worked for Congress and joined an investment bank, and in 1962 he was elected to the House of Representatives, where he met Gerald Ford. In 1969, he joined Nixon's Cabinet, and in 1973 he became US ambassador to NATO in Brussels. Rumsfeld became Ford's Chief of Staff (1974–5) before becoming the youngest US Secretary of Defense. In 1977, Rumsfeld became a private businessman, though he continued to be an influential ‘neo’-conservative, arguing that modern wars were won through superior technologies. Following the Gulf War, Rumsfeld argued that Saddam Hussein continued to be a threat to world peace, and that it was in the US national interest to remove him by force.

 Appointed by George W. Bush on Cheney's advice, Rumsfeld's preparations for the Iraq War were accelerated after September 11, though a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein was never found. Rumsfeld strongly believed that the US military needed strong political leadership. This underlay his fateful decision not to comply with the military's request after the war to put sufficient numbers of troops on the ground to secure the peace. Rumsfeld oversaw spiralling levels of violence in Iraq under US occupation, with US soldiers continuing to be exposed to hostile attacks. Following the 2006 Congressional elections, which generated a Republican defeat in both Houses largely owing to the unpopularity of the Iraq occupation, Rumsfeld resigned. With a sharp intellect, Rumsfeld became a highly divisive political figure, in part through his policies, and in part through his gift for straight-talking.

Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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