Donald Rumsfeld says Congress is failing in its responsibility to protect the nation the longer it delays a deal to stop the triggering of automatic defense cuts in January. The former Defense secretary also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that sanctions against a potentially nuclear Iran won’t work.
“I think it’s mindless,” Rumsfeld said, in a blistering indictment of both parties for allowing their failure to reach a budget deal over the past two years fall so heavily on the Pentagon.
”The idea of sequestering . . . many hundreds of billions of dollars is fundamentally wrong. It’s poor government,” Rumsfeld told Van Susteren in an interview that aired Thursday. “And if it does fall the way it looks like it could — and it hits the Department of Defense — it would be a monumental mistake.”
Rumsfeld called the congressional decision to “kick the can down the road” on a budget agreement “a stopgap excuse for a failure to do their jobs.”
The result, he warned, could be devastating if the automatic cuts are allowed to take place, saying it would not only devastate the nation’s military structure but would severely undercut America’s leadership role in the world.
“We’ve made this mistake before. After every major conflict — World War II, Vietnam, Korea, you name it, the end of the Cold War — we've pared back dramatically,” he said. “And it’s easy to do. You can pare back in a month or six months.”
But to “build back takes years,” Rumsfeld continued. “And the thing that worries me the most about today is the projection of America as a country that’s weak and that is behaving in a way that is not going to be good for our future.”
Rumsfeld said the nation’s leaders have already signaled to the world with their failure to come up with a deficit-reduction plan that America may be going the way of Europe.
He accused both Republicans and Democrats of politicizing the issue to the point that things have become so polarized that they can no longer pass “responsible budgets” that are thoughtful and precisely targeted.
“I think government and politics have changed,” he said, suggesting that money and the drive to score political points during the campaign season has lawmakers forgetting their obligation to actually govern.
Rumsfeld said things have become so confused that politicians no longer have to worry about threats from across the aisle during an election, but from within their own party — either from the right in the case of Republicans or the left for Democrats.
“So the pressure is to polarize things,” he said, adding that the push to raise money to stay in office also adds to that pressure. “And the way you raise money is to be on television and to be seen and to be noticed. And to do that, generally, you have to say something that’s dramatic. You know the rule. If it bleeds, it leads.”
The former Defense secretary also addressed the standoff with Iran, saying Israeli intelligence on the scope of Tehran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability “is excellent.”
He suggested that efforts to punish Iran with sanctions won’t work in the end, but declined to venture a guess on when Israel might strike targets in Iran, as it did in Iraq and Syria to take out their suspected nuclear facilities.
But citing the recent leaks of national security information from within the Obama administration, Rumsfeld said if he were in the Israeli government he would not notify the United in advance of an attack on Iran.
“My guess is, given the pattern of leaks out of the White House, that any prime minister of Israel would not call the United States and give clear intentions as to what they plan to do,” he said.
Rumsfeld called the leaks “serious” and added, “Every country and every potential person we try to recruit to assist us looks at these leaks and says to themselves — that's not a reliable partner.”
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