Rumsfeld 'considered Iraq withdrawal'

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The Independent US

A leaked memo from the outgoing US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld indicated that the chief architect of the Iraq war was considering a "major adjustment" of strategy, including troop redeployments and withdrawals, just days before his resignation last month.

The memo, leaked to The New York Times, suggested that even the most ardent of the Bush administration's "stay the course" advocates came to recognise that the war was going badly - for reasons that may or may not have been connected to the fact that Mr Rumsfeld's job was clearly on the line.

Mr Rumsfeld threw out an array of options, including redeployment of large numbers of troops to the Syrian and Iranian borders and withdrawal from areas outside Baghdad where the bloodshed has been most unstoppable.

Characteristically, the memo was as much about public perceptions as actual strategy. "Announce that whatever new approach the US decides on, the US is doing so on a trial basis," the memo says. "This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not 'lose'."

Senior Bush administration figures said they were considering Mr Rumsfeld's suggestions, just as they will pay attention to the conclusions of the Iraq Study Group, whose report is due to be published on Wednesday. Nine more Iraqis died yesterday in a US raid on two buildings in Anbar province, including two women and a toddler.

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