Wed Mar 12, 2003 
Rumsfeld 'Loose Cannon' as U.S. Woos Allies on Iraq
By Will Dunham 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, known for
using sharp words about foes and friends alike, is doing U.S. foreign
policy more harm than good with comments alienating key allies,
analysts said. 

Rumsfeld's suggestion on Tuesday the United States might wage war on
Iraq without British military participation stirred anger in Britain,
Washington's closest ally on Iraq, as the two countries struggle to win
international support for possible military action against Baghdad. 

Rumsfeld had caused headaches for the Bush administration on domestic
matters as well, said critics, pointing to comments he made in January
that offended some veterans' groups, and his tense relations with many
senior U.S. military officers and some members of Congress. 

"He's his own worst enemy," said Lawrence Korb, the former assistant
secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. 

Korb, with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said it would
be wise for Rumsfeld to be more careful about his remarks in the
interest of protecting U.S. policy goals. 

"One of the concerns is that he often oversteps his bounds and comments
on diplomatic issues rather than military issues, and that he moves
into the realm of State Department affairs," added Peter Singer of the
Brookings Institution think tank in Washington. 

"His comments you certainly could characterize as being that of a loose
cannon," Singer said. "He's a forceful, almost cranky, personality who
seems to delight in the press coverage that he's gotten." 

Some analysts called Rumsfeld's bluntness refreshing. 

"I rather like it. I'm a fan of his, and I like the idea that he speaks
his mind. I think that's good," said Harlan Ullman of the Center for
Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington. 

"Rumsfeld has things to say. And anybody who has things to say and is
intelligent should be listened to and not dismissed out of hand,"
Ullman added. 

Rumsfeld was unapologetic at a Pentagon briefing last month when asked
about criticism his comments had not helped the United States sway
countries to its views on Iraq. 

"I think if one goes back and looks at the precise words that I've
used," he said, "they are what they are." 


During a briefing with foreign journalists in Washington on Jan. 22,
Rumsfeld was asked by a reporter for Dutch public television about
public opposition in Europe to an Iraq war. 

"Now, you're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think
that's old Europe," Rumsfeld said in remarks that provoked criticism in
those longtime American allies. 

Rumsfeld added that "vast numbers of other countries in Europe"
supported U.S. policy on Iraq and that "the center of gravity" within
NATO was shifting to the former Soviet-bloc states in Eastern Europe. 

The next day, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer suggested
Rumsfeld "cool down." 

On Feb. 5, Rumsfeld irritated the German government again when he told
Congress that Germany joined Libya and Cuba as nations refusing to play
a role in a war against Iraq. 

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, a strong supporter of
Washington's Iraq policy, said he told President Bush he wanted to hear
"a lot" from Secretary of State Colin Powell and "not much" from
Rumsfeld." "Ministers of defense should talk less, shouldn't they?"
Aznar suggested. 

Asked by reporters if he would follow Aznar's advice, Rumsfeld said, "I
haven't heard it from the president." 

Dana Allin, an expert in transatlantic relations with the International
Institute for Strategic Studies think tank in London, said some of
Rumsfeld's remarks seemed "flippant." 

"Particularly the concept of an old versus new Europe I think is very
pernicious. I don't really know what Secretary Rumsfeld thinks, but I
think there is in this administration a degree of contempt for what
Europe is and what Europe has achieved," Allin added. 

Korb said it was counterproductive to make such comments about France
and Germany, whose support will be needed in many areas such as sharing
intelligence on alleged terrorists and targeting their financial

Four hours after Rumsfeld's comments about Britain on Tuesday, the
Pentagon issued a written statement in which he clarified the record,
saying there was "every reason to believe there will be a significant
military contribution from the United Kingdom." 

The White House on Wednesday was trying to fix strained relations with

"It almost seems like he's got a list of countries he has yet to
offend. And Britain was the latest that he's sort of checked off,"
Singer said. 

"No War for Oil!"

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