Donald Rumsfeld admits that expecting a democracy in Iraq was 'unrealistic'

Over a decade after presiding over the invasion of Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld admitted that the country may not have been ready for a democracy.

In an interview with British newspaper the Times, the former Secretary of State reflected on America’s role in shaping the Middle East, and suggested expecting Iraq to seamlessly transition to a democracy was “unrealistic.”

“I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories,” Rumsfeld told the Times. “The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. I was concerned about it when I first heard those words.”

The former Secretary of State placed most of the blame for the current situation in the Middle East on President Obama’s unwillingness to confront the jihadist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS).

“If leaders aren’t willing to [confront ISIS], why the hell should a guy with a wife and kids in the community put himself at risk?” Rumsfeld said.

Throughout his tenure, the former Secretary of Defence rarely expressed regret, let along scepticism about the chances for democracy in Iraq. In 2003, he famously mocked detractors for expressing doubt that Iraq could become a democracy.

“It’s reasonably democratic, it’s kind of untidy,” Rumsfeld said. “And one looks at the untidiness and says, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s untidy.’ Well, my goodness, democracy is untidy. Freedom is untidy. Liberation is untidy.”

In the waning years of the Obama presidency, several high-level Bush administration officials have reemerged to defend their legacy and attempt to shape the Republican party’s foreign policy. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz Cheney are ramping up efforts to support hawks in the GOP, partially as a response to the growing influence of the more isolationist wing of the party led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Former President George W. Bush has also quietly been advising his brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on foreign policy as he prepares for presidential run.

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