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Sunday
Mar272011

Rumsfeld: U.S. Prestige Will be Damaged if Gadhafi Stays

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said that if Gadhafi remains in power in Libya, it will damage the prestige of the United States.

In an exclusive interview on This Week with ABC News' Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper, Rumsfeld said, "the fact is we are involved" in Libya. "And the prestige of the United States is involved."

Rumsfeld compared the possible scenario of Gadhafi staying in power in Tripoli to the U.S. and coalition forces not removing Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War, though he refused to take a firm stand on whether U.S. military action in Libya was the correct move for the Obama administration.

"Think back to the Gulf War in the early 1990s," said Rumsfeld, who served as George W. Bush's defense secretary from 2001-2006. "Saddam Hussein, when it was over, said he had fought the mother of all battles and President George Herbert Walker Bush was gone, Margaret Thatcher was gone, and he was still in office. And the implication of that was that he had defeated the United States," he said.

"Let there be no question: we're now involved in Libya. And if Gadhafi stays on, he will feel he has fought the mother of all battles against the United States and it will be damaging to us just as our demeanor in Somalia was damaging, the situation in Lebanon was damaging and that will embolden others of his ilk," he told Tapper.

Rumsfeld also used the word "confusion" a number of times to describe the United Nations-backed military effort in Libya.

"If you go into something with confusion and ambiguity about what the mission is – and we've heard four or five different explanations about why we're there – and that is the root of the problem. The confusion that comes from that," Rumsfeld said.

"Confusion about what the mission is, confusion about who the rebels are, confusion about whether or not Gadhafi should be left in power, confusion about what the command and control should be," Rumsfeld said.

The former defense secretary said he thought the coalition in the Libya mission did not compare favorably to the coalition President George W. Bush put together to fight the "global war on terror."

"The coalition that is in place with respect to Libya is the smallest one in modern history," Rumsfeld said. "We had over 90 countries in the global war on terror that President Bush and Colin Powell put in place. We had dozens of countries involved in Afghanistan, dozens of countries involved in Iraq. … And still, the Democrats were alleging that it was President Bush was a unilateralist. It's nonsense," he insisted.

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