Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Donald Rumsfeld Lambastes Obama on Syria: 'Take Responsibility'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Donald Rumsfeld Lambastes Obama on Syria: 'Take Responsibility'

Article excerpt

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has chosen a perilous time in President Obama's presidency, and in world affairs, for that matter, to comment so pointedly about the president's performance.

As the president weighs the difficult decision of striking Syria for apparently using chemical weapons against its own citizens - and while he's in Russia for the Group of 20 meeting - Mr. Rumsfeld took to the cable TV and lecture circuit this week to deem Mr. Obama the "so-called commander-in-chief" and "ineffective."

"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 after an address at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., Tuesday.

Rumsfeld is, of course, not the only voice of administrations past to criticize. And many, like Rumsfeld, were involved in making the case for the 2003 Iraq war.

But perhaps Rumsfeld hasn't gotten the dictate from his former boss, President George W. Bush. Mr. Bush has said he would not comment on the performance of his successor, that he knows how hard the job is, and that it's not his place anymore to add fodder to the national political discussion.

Rumsfeld, it seems, shares no such sentiment.

He slammed Obama for trying to walk back his 2012 comment that any use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would mark a red line, prompting the US to consider action. The president has since suggested that the red line represents an international norm, not a parameter he has drawn himself.

"This president has tried to blame everybody or anybody, for everything and leadership requires that you stand up, take a position, provide clarity and take responsibility," Rumsfeld told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren. "And I can't imagine him saying that he didn't draw the red line. But he did draw a red line.... We have ears!"

Rumsfeld elaborated on CNN. "It's exactly the reason that there is not a large coalition wanting to support the president; it's a reason that Congress is confused," he said.

Rumsfeld is pushing for regime change in Syria or no intervention there at all. Thematically, he is painting a picture of a clumsy White House that lacks firmness and direction in its goals and has been unable, so far, to provide a clear sense of urgency in Syria.

With Obama first saying he is for military action in Syria and then tossing the matter to a skeptical Congress for approval, his mettle is being tested at home and abroad. …

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