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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rumsfeld Derides Obama as ‘the So-Called Commander in Chief’

Last Updated, 10:26 a.m. | The discussion about direct military action in Syria has brought in former officials intimately involved in making the case for the 2003 Iraq war, as Mark Mazzetti and Mark Landler reported recently. One of them is Donald H. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary at that time.

In speeches and television interviews, Mr. Rumsfeld has made frequent remarks about President Obama’s response to the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, mainly sticking to the theme of a lack of leadership and clarity.

On Wednesday, Mr. Rumsfeld referred to Mr. Obama as the “so-called commander in chief” during an interview with Fox & Friends, in which he repeated, “He has not provided leadership.”

The former defense secretary continued the theme in an appearance on the “Today” show, saying that President Obama has demonstrated a lack of vision in his military strategy on Syria that may cost him global support.

The leadership has lacked a vision, and the essence of leadership is to have a vision and clarity. That’s where you develop the kind of support and unity in our country and our Congress and in the world.

If there’s anything that’s clear, it’s that they do not have that kind of unity at the present time because of a lack of clarity.

The danger of doing something that’s not worth anything, that results in nothing, that leaves Assad standing, it seems to me that it makes the United States look like that’s what we prefer. Quite the contrary.

Later in the day, Mr. Rumsfeld told Greta Van Susteren in another appearance on Fox News: “I think the decisions that are in the Oval Office are the tough ones, and President Obama’s got his hands full. And goodness knows, you wish him well if he make a decision to use force. But the lead-up to this I think has been most unfortunate.”

One day earlier, he said in a speech at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., that Mr. Obama was not showing leadership, NBC News reported. “You either ought to change the regime, or you ought to do nothing,” he said.

Last week, Mr. Rumsfeld told the Fox Business Network that “there really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation.”

A version of this post was also published in the “Crisis in Syria” section.