Donald Rumsfeld admits George W Bush was 'unrealistic' to push democracy in Iraq

'I was concerned when I first heard those words'

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The former US Secretary of Defense has admitted it was unrealistic to try to “fashion” a democracy in Iraq.

Donald Rumsfeld, who served in the position from 2001 to 2006, told the Times that he was concerned when he “first heard those words”.

He said: “The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. I was concerned about it when I first heard those words.”

The US President at the time, George W Bush, tried to push democracy in the country after toppling its president Saddam Hussein in 2003.  

But Rumsfeld told the Times: “I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories.”

In the interview, he also expressed concern that Western leaders were not showing enough courage in the fights against Islamist extremism: “If leaders aren’t will to do it, why the hell should a guy with a wife and kids in the community put himself at risk?”

“The movement for a caliphate, the movement against nation states is central and fundamental. And no one’s talking about it. Have you ever heard anyone at the UN begin to think about the concept?”

Overcoming the threats posed by Islamists could take decades he predicted: “You begin to look at this thing not like a war but more liked the Cold War… you’re not going to win this with bullets, you’re in a competition of ideas,” he said.