Andrew Bacevich: Well, the newspapers are referring to him as the most influential defense secretary since Robert McNamara back in the 1960s. I think that’s appropriate, accurate. He was like McNamara in a specific sense, I think, that he brought to office — Rumsfeld brought to office certain convictions about how the Pentagon needed to change. And from day one, he set out to implement that vision.
What Rumsfeld didn’t anticipate was 9/11 and its aftermath, specifically the Iraq War. And you’re right, I think, to describe him as the principal architect of that war. He attempted to fight it, consistent with his reform vision — that is to say, the expectation that superior American technology would bring about a quick and decisive victory. He got that wrong. He got that wrong because of his misunderstanding of war and his inability to appreciate the historical, cultural, sociological, religious elements of war. And therefore, what was supposed to be a quick and decisive victory ended up being a protracted, ugly disaster. And that’s why Iraq needs to be, you know, the most important item inscribed on his headstone. He was a disaster. Läs intervju