During the 2011 Milblog conference in Arlington, Va., keynote speaker Donald Rumsfeld shared his thoughts on the Obama administration's handling of Afghanistan and the NATO operation over Libya.
On Afghanistan, Rumsfeld criticized some in the administration who, both on the record and off, denounce Karzai as corrupt.
If your goal is to not be there, if your goal is to have the government sufficient to provide the kind of leadership and structure and security that the country can function reasonably well, then I think we ought to stop trashing Karzai and the elected government that seems to be a pattern in this administration. He was elected, he's there, we aught to support him and encourage him and try to make him strong instead of weaken him. And I've been concerned about several of the people in the administration that make a practice of criticizing him. I mean, running around saying the government is corrupt -- oh my goodness, there's gambling in the casino!...Rumsfeld went on to critique the operation in Libya, saying that the NATO alliance went about the mission all wrong: building a coalition before establishing a goal, rather than tailoring a coalition for a specific outcome.
In our circumstance, the mission has to determine the coalition. That is to say you've got to decide what your goal is for the United States, and then you fashion a coalition around that. ... In the case of Libya they formed a coalition before they fashioned a mission. ... Then you continue with the lack of clarity as to who's going to do what, what is the goal, what are you trying to accomplish -- one coalition member says 'we want to do this' the other coalition member says 'we don't want to do that' and you have this disorder and lack of clarity which is quick harmful.He also said Libyan leader Mohmar Gaddafi must go, or the mission cannot be deemed a success.
Once the U.S. is involved it seems to me that you cannot end up with Gaddafi still there. ... If the united states is engaged over Libya you do not want to have that thing end in any way with Gaddafi still there. ...Rumsfeld went on to say that while he did not think U.S. ground troops should be committed to Libya to achieve Gaddafi downfall, he believed more could be done covertly and overtly to encourage to dictator's inner circle to abandon him -- as long as the fate of Gaddafi's rule is uncertain, some of his key leaders will stick by, Rumsfeld argued.
One of the most interesting comments he made was that America's efforts should be focused more on the fate of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and how Iran plays out the convulsions in the region, rather than Libya. While "Libya and Tunisia are not unimportant," he said, "the first rule is to do no harm" that would give Iran an opening to exert influence and take our eye off Syria.