- (Photo: Reuters/Luis Enrique Ascui)
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a raised Protestant and practicing Episcopalian, has said in a recent interview that it would have been "immoral" for the U.S. not to have used military intervention in Iraq following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense for both President Gerald Ford and President George W. Bush, believes that the controversial Iraq War, in which the U.S. moved troops into the Middle Eastern country in 2003, was a "just" decision.
"In an era where the lethality of weapons has grown and when you're dealing with a regime whose President is known as the 'Butcher of Baghdad' -- he had killed thousands of his own people, used chemical weapons against his neighbors, and had thumbed his nose at something like 17 United Nations resolutions -- a President doesn't have a large margin for error," Rumsfeld told RealClearReligion in a recent interview, referencing the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was suspected of proliferating weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003.
Rumsfeld went on to say that it would have been "immoral" for the U.S. to not have gotten involved in Iraq following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, given the intelligence information at the time which led the U.S. to believe Hussein was building a chemical weapons arsenal.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq was opposed by some, who argued that the connection made between Hussein's Ba'athist government and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could not be confirmed. Others argued that although the U.S. claimed Iraq was creating weapons of mass destruction, no such weapons were ever found. However, supporters of the decision to topple Saddam Hussein point to the fact that the Iraqi leader had ruthlessly killed thousands in the country, used chemical weapons, and had to be stopped.
The U.S.'s invasion of Iraq resulted in the toppling of Hussein's regime, the Ba'ath Party, and Hussein underwent a murder trial in Iraq in which he was found guilty of crimes against humanity. Hussein was given a death sentence for the 1982 killing of 148 Shiites, and he was executed in December 2006.
Although Rumsfeld has argued that the Iraq War was just, others have disagreed. In an opinion piece written by for The Washington Post in March, former president of the Chicago Theological Seminary Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite argued that the Iraq War was not justified, writing: "The Iraq war was not a Just War. It has been a moral, fiscal and geopolitical disaster for the United States. Ten years after the attack on Iraq, it is critical to understand all that we have lost in engaging in this war. The true legacy of the Iraq war is a loss of our moral compass on engaging in war."
Others, however, argued that the toppling of Hussein, who was considered by many to be a violent dictator who ruled his country with fear and violence, was just reason to invade Iraq.
The U.S. has since ended its involvement in Iraq, withdrawing all military personnel in December 2011 at the command of President Barack Obama. Since the withdrawal, fighting within the country between religious groups, mainly the Sunni militant groups and the Shia-led government, has continued.