Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday that the reputation of the United States would be damaged if Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is allowed to remain in power.
“My personal view is that once you’re involved, you have to recognize that the prestige of the United States is at stake,” he told ABC’s Jake Tapper.
“If Gaddafi stays on, he will think he fought the mother of all battles — against the United States,” Rumsfeld continued. “It will be damaging to us just as our demeanor in Somalia was damaging, the situation in Lebanon was damaging and that will embolden others of his ilk.”
Rumsfeld said he agreed with former deputy at the Pentagon Paul Wolfowitz, who said last week, “If Gaddafi were to survive, it would be very much against American interests.”
“At this stage, once the United States gets involved in something like this, if it ends and Gaddafi is still sitting there as I say, being able to say, with some credibility, that he has just fought the mother of all battles in Libya. And he is still there and the United States and the coalition countries are all gone, you bet it will be damaging to our country,” Rumsfeld noted.
The former Defense secretary went on to claim that the intervention in Libya was riddled with “confusion,” unlike the invasion of Afghanistan.
“If you go into something with confusion and ambiguity, and we have heard four or five different explanations of why we’re there, that is the root of the problem. The confusion that comes from that. Confusion about what the mission is. Confusion about who the rebels are. Confusion about whether or not Gaddafi should be left in power. Confusion about what the command and control should be,” he said.
“It seems to me [in the Afghanistan invasion], we proceeded in a very orderly way. President Bush made a decision that America had been attacked. That was unacceptable. We were going after al Qaeda and remove the Taliban. He set that as the mission and put together a coalition to take on that mission. That’s exactly the way it should be done.”
Tapper didn’t follow up with Rumsfeld about confusion that took place during the Iraq war.
This video is from ABC’s This Week, broadcast March 27, 2011.