Donald Rumsfeld


American Politician and Businessman who served as 13th Secretary of Defense

Author Quotes

When cutting staff at the Pentagon, don't eliminate the thin layer that assures civilian control.

When you raise issues with the President, try to come away with both that decision and also a precedent. Pose issues so as to evoke broader policy guidance. This can help to answer a range of similar issues likely to arise later.

With the press there is no "off the record."

Work continuously to trim the White House staff from your first day to your last. All the pressures are to the contrary.

You and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase immediate threat. I didn't, the president didn't. And it's become kind of folklore that that's what's happened.

You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have.

You may find people who will contend that patriotism is something to be a little bit embarrassed about or that honor is somewhat outdated as a notion and that concentrating on America's imperfection makes you a realist. Not so. That's the sign of a cynic. Being a cynic is easy. You can just sit back, heckle from the cheap seats, while others serve, storm beaches, build nations, meet their destinies. Idealists write history's stirring chapters; cynics read those chapters and seem not to understand. Choose to be an idealist. There have always been those who contend that what's wrong with the world is America. Don't believe it.

You will launch many projects, but have time to finish only a few. So think, plan, develop, launch and tap good people to be responsible. Give them authority and hold them accountable. Trying to do too much yourself creates a bottleneck.

Your performance depends on your people. Select the best, train them and back them. When errors occur, give sharper guidance. If errors persist or if the fit feels wrong, help them move on. The country cannot afford amateur hour in the White House.

You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe.

Don't automatically obey Presidential directives if you disagree or if you suspect he hasn't considered key aspects of the issue.

I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons.

If you try to please everybody, somebody's not going to like it.

Let's hear it for the essential daily briefing, however hollow and empty it might be. We'll do it.

Politics is human beings; it's addition rather than subtraction.

The great respect that I have for your leadership, Mr. President, in this little-understood, unfamiliar war, the first war of the 21st century--it is not well-known, it was not well-understood; it is complex for people to comprehend. And I know with certainty that, over time, the contributions you've made will be recorded by history.

We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead.

Don't be a bottleneck. If a matter is not a decision for the President or you, delegate it. Force responsibility down and out. Find problem areas, add structure and delegate. The pressure is to do the reverse. Resist it.

I don't do quagmires.

I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty.

Look at me! I'm sweet and lovable!

Preserve the President's options. He may need them.

The price of being close to the President is delivering bad news. You fail him if you don't tell him the truth. Others won't do it.

We know where they [Iraq's WMD] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat....I would also add, we saw from the air that there were dozens of trucks that went into that facility after the existence of it became public in the press and they moved things out. They dispersed them and took them away. So there may be nothing left. I don't know that. But it's way too soon to know. The exploitation is just starting.

Don't blame the boss. He has enough problems.

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American Politician and Businessman who served as 13th Secretary of Defense