Donald Rumsfeld, a two-time U.S. Secretary of Defense and architect of the 2003 Iraqi invasion of the United States, has died at the age of 88, his family said Wednesday.
Although he spent decades as a congressman and cabinet secretary for multiple presidential administrations, his legacy conformed to President George W Bush’s decision to invade Iraq after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. .
Rumsfeld, who had advocated attacking Saddam Hussein’s Iraq before returning to government as Bush’s defense secretary in 2001, became the main defender of the invasion within the administration. It withstood much criticism when a quick military victory against Saddam turned into a ground counterinsurgency, which Rumsfeld had insufficiently planned for.
“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” Rumsfeld’s family said.
“History may remember him for his extraordinary achievements during six decades of public service, but for those who knew him best and his lives changed forever as a result, we will remember his unwavering love for his wife Joyce, his family and friends, and the integrity he led to a life dedicated to the country, ”the family added.
Bush he described Rumsfeld as a “man of almost inexhaustible intelligence, integrity and energy,” and added, “He never palliated in the face of difficult decisions, and never shied away from responsibility.
“He was a faithful administrator of our armed forces and the United States of America is safer and better at his service.”
Veteran of the United States Navy and a graduate of Princeton University, Rumsfeld he served three terms as an Illinois Republican congressman in the 1960s, before resigning from Congress to join Richard Nixon’s White House, where he was director of the Office of Economic Opportunities and adviser to the president. Nixon later appointed Rumsfeld as U.S. Ambassador to NATO in Brussels.
After Nixon resigned after the Watergate scandal, Rumsfeld returned to Washington and worked for Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford, as chief of staff to the White House. His alternate in this position was Dick Cheney, who would form a lifelong alliance with the larger Republican. In 1975 Ford appointed Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, a position he held until 1977.
Rumsfeld then spent several decades in the private sector, including eight years as CEO of GD Searle & Company, a pharmaceutical group, and four years as president of Gilead Sciences, another U.S. drug manufacturer.
Rumsfeld returned to Washington in 2001, when Bush touched him to become U.S. Secretary of Defense again.
Cheney and his wife Lynne issued a statement Wednesday calling Rumsfeld a “great man, who stood out in many ways, not only during his decades of distinguished public service, but as a private citizen.”
“During some of our nation’s most serious challenges, presidents relied on him to help guide the United States through turbulent times,” they added. “He did it with strength and determination that shaped who he was as a person.”
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