Former Secretary of Defense Donald Harold Rumsfeld has died at the age of 88 at his him in New Mexico. The family released a statement through his Twitter account:
“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. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico.
“History may remember him for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades of public service, but for those who knew him best and whose lives were forever changed as a result, we will remember his unwavering love for his wife Joyce, his family and friends, and the integrity he brought to a life dedicated to country.”
A statement from the family of Donald Rumsfeld: pic.twitter.com/AlKYxVvqgF
— Donald Rumsfeld (@RumsfeldOffice) June 30, 2021
Rumsfeld is best known for his role in the reactions by the U.S. government to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He began his political career as a four-term Congressman before going to work in the Richard Nixon administration under various roles. Under Gerald Ford, Rumsfeld first served as Secretary of Defense, the youngest at the time, before reentering the private sector for over two decades.
George W. Bush made him the oldest Secretary of Defense in 2001, months before the terrorist attacks that made him a household name. His reactions to the attacks have been categorized as neoconservative; his hawkish approach and push for war in Iraq made both friends and enemies among conservatives in DC.
As USA Today reported:
Rumsfeld oversaw the Pentagon’s response and its initial attack on al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan. With stunning speed, U.S. commandos and airstrikes toppled the Taliban from power and a new democratically elected government was established.
By early 2002, Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney turned the Pentagon’s attention to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, nearly captured in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, slipped away into Pakistan, where he was killed in 2011.
In 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq to prevent Hussein from launching attacks with weapons of mass destruction. None were found, and the mismanaged American occupation led to a guerrilla war and sectarian violence.
Some loved Donald Rumsfeld, but the growing unpopularity of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has pushed him further down the list of admirable Secretaries of Defense. Regardless of one’s opinion, he will be remembered.