Donald Rumsfeld: ‘It’s possible’ more troops would have been useful in Iraq

Laura Donovan Contributor
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More than four years after leaving office, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is arguing the war in Iraq was worthwhile, and says he’s not sorry sorry about the decisions he made there and in Afghanistan, reports ABC News.

“I think the world’s a better place with Saddam Hussein gone and with the Taliban gone and the al-Qaida out of Afghanistan,” Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld added that it was “interesting” that former President George W. Bush wrote that cutting troop levels in Iraq was “the most important failure in the execution of the war.”

“I don’t have enough confidence to say that that’s right. I think that it’s possible,” Rumsfeld said in his first television interview since 2006. “We had [an] enormous number of troops ready to go in. They had — we had off-ramps, if they weren’t needed.”

“It’s hard to know,” Rumsfeld said. “You know, the path you didn’t take is always smoother.”

Rumsfeld wasn’t in total accordance with the orchestration of the Iraq war decision-making process. Rumsfeld told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that “it’s possible” the war’s biggest mistake surrounds the decision on how many troops to send to Iraq.

Sawyer cited a line in Rumsfeld’s new book, “Known and Unknown,” in which he says, “more troops could have been useful [in Iraq].”

“It’s possible,” Rumsfeld responded. “In a war, many things cost lives.”

Rumsfeld had some harsh words for former Secretary of State Colin Powell under Bush Jr., who initially opposed the Iraq invasion.

“He did not in my view do a good job of managing the people under him,” Rumsfeld said. “And there was a lot of leaking out of the State Department, and the president knew it … and it was unhelpful. Most of it ended up making the State Department look good. We didn’t do that in the Pentagon, I insisted we not do it.”

When Sawyer asked if Rumsfeld learned any lessons about himself from the war, he answered that the war was not about him.

“I don’t really think that way, I wasn’t worried about me, I was worried about the country,” Rumsfeld said.

Sawyer referenced another defense secretary, Robert McNamara, who famously said of the Vietnam war years after it ended that “we were wrong, terribly wrong.”

“That’s not the case with Iraq,” Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld’s interview is tied to this week’s release of his memoir.

[WATCH: Donald Rumsfeld talk about the Iraq war]