The Wisdom of Donald Rumsfeld: Determining Whether to Wage War in Syria

by Camillo Mac Bica


So much has been written about whether to go to war with Syria, I confess I have little of substance to add to the debate. Instead I will share the process through which I made my decision utilizing the following epistemological insights coming from the most unlikely of sources (at least for me), former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld as expressed during a news conference discussion of the Iraq war .

“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”
Donald Rumsfeld, February 12, 2002

rumsfeldClearly, I am not alone in my confidence in Rumsfeld’s “wisdom” as he is still a favorite and respected “expert” often called upon by a myriad of Main Stream Media outlets for his perspective on foreign policy, war, and the resolution of conflict.

The purpose of this epistemological exercise is to determine, whether I would support or oppose another war in the Middle East. The process is intended to distinguish what I know and don’t know about the Syrian civil war from what others would have me believe. I would, as well, recommend this method of reasoning to others so as to ensure that we make the best possible decision and avoid another fiasco like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

 “There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.”

Here are some of the things I profess to know made clear by International law as well as recent history, both of which are apparent, I think, to anyone who does a minimum of research and/or pays attention.

(A) However our political leaders would like to characterize it, I know that raining bombs and missiles down on another nation constitutes a war regardless of whether it lasts weeks or years, places boots on the ground, or Americans in harm’s way.

(B)  Unless under attack or facing a threat that is REAL and IMMANENT, I know that no nation is empowered to wage war without the approval of the United Nations Security Council.

(C)  I know that the United States, specifically the President, is not empowered to make determinations of criminal behavior and unilaterally “punish” other nations it deems liable, again without authorization from the United Nations Security Council.

(D) I know that technologically sophisticated weaponry is no guarantee of success (of victory). Despite being bombed (“missiled”) “back into the stone age,” aggressed people, though armed with comparatively “primitive” weaponry, will struggle heroically and with great determination and perseverance, until the aggressor is defeated or its people decide that the campaign is futile and the quagmire not worth further sacrifice of lives and treasure.

(E)  I know that war, bombing, invasion, and occupation do not replace diplomacy, nor does violence resolve conflicts and disagreements. For the most part it only complicates things further making them worse. Violence does in fact beget violence.

(F)   Given its behavior during the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan War, its program of targeted assassination (extra judicial killings), its violation of International law (the sovereignty of other nations), torture, Guantanamo Bay, etc., I know that the United States, specifically the President, lacks the moral and legal credibility to make moral and legal judgments regarding the behavior of other nations and leaders.



(G) Given the legacy of lies and untruths regarding issues of national defense, weapons of mass destruction, terrorist threats, etc., that have been exposed by truth tellers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, I know I cannot accept blindly and trustingly and without critical analysis, the arguments for war presented by this and any other Administration.

(H) I know that the United States is profoundly ineffective at nation building. If there is to be regime change, it should begin at home.

(I)    I know that the use chemical weapons, whether it be sarin gas, white phosphorous, napalm, depleted uranium, agent orange, etc., whether it used by the Syrians, Americans, Israelis, etc., is repugnant and a violation of international and moral law.

There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.”

Here are some of the things that I, and from what I can ascertain, most others including our political leaders who will soon be deciding whether to go to war with Syria do not know.

(A) I do not know how Secretary of State Kerry, et al, can be certain that sarin gas was used in Syria when the UN inspectors have said it will take a couple of weeks for the most sophisticated labs in Europe to make a positive determination.

(B)  I do not know that it was Bashar al-Assad’s forces who used the chemical weapons (and not the rebels, or for that matter, the Mossad) given the comprehensive evidence offered by the Russians and suggested by various UN investigators, evidence that at least prevents the sort of certainty necessary for waging war. Have we already forgotten Iraq?

(C)  Even if proof positive becomes available that it was Assad’s forces that used the chemicals, I do not know what would be accomplished by “limited”, “surgical,” “short termed,” missile attacks. How would it end the civil war? Foster stability in the Middle East? Save Syrian Lives? Further our National Defense?

(D)   I do not know how the Administration can guarantee that this war will be “limited” in its scope and means, (60 day duration with a possible 30 day extension), when Senator Kerry testified that no option (further escalation) is off the table and boots on the ground may be necessary should the situation “implode.”

(E)  I do not know what would be the United States’ response should Syria not acquiesce to being bombed and chose to defend itself militarily against U.S. interests, its forces, and/or its allies. Would the Administration then have “justification” for unlimited “defensive” war against Syria?  Even after backtracking somewhat from his earlier statement, Kerry made clear that there will be no boots on the ground in Syria in “respect to the civil war.” He made no guarantees that further escalation (including boots on the ground) would not be a possible response to a Syrian “attack.”

 “But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

This aspect of Rumsfeldian epistemology is perhaps most interesting and, in my view, most relevant to the issue at hand. If I may be so bold, in the interest of clarity, allow me to expand upon it somewhat.

“But there are also unknown unknowns – I KNOW there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

(A) I know I do not know that I don’t know the sorts of horrors that will be forthcoming once the dogs of war are released against Syria. A war with Russia, China, Iran? World War III?  Nuclear holocaust? Syria’s WMDs falling into the hands of Al Nusra?

Without having experienced war themselves or having forgotten in the case of Kerry, Hagel, and McCann, it is in this final aspect that those who rush to war are most deficient, or careless, or indifferent and condemnable.

In this article, I have offered a thought process that is logically and philosophically sound for determining whether to support or oppose war with Syria. Since we are a nation of laws, both International and moral, and since war is so morally and legally repugnant and must be avoided at all costs unless and until certainty can be established regarding just cause, last resort, etc., Rumsfeldian wisdom has made clear to me and to anyone who would look analytically and critically at the situation, that war with Syria is illegal, immoral, tactically and strategically unsound, not in our national interest, nor in the interest of the people of Syria, the Middle East, or the world.

What is ironic and perhaps, tragic, about this process, is that Rumsfeld himself was and is incapable of utilizing his own method to draw reasonable and logically sound conclusions from his arguments.

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12 Responses to "The Wisdom of Donald Rumsfeld: Determining Whether to Wage War in Syria"

  1. Matt Ford Jr.  September 8, 2013 at 11:14 am

    In my opinion, Donald Rumsfeld is not an expert on anything. After all, he lost $ 2.3 trillion dollars. ( Source: ) By the way, has the U.S ever recouped the 16 trillion dollars that we ” loaned ” at 0%
    interest to national and international corporations and banks?

    Do a search on ” 16 trillion bailout ” and see all the stuff that comes out. This is the result of the audit of the Federal Reserve. Funny, never saw this in the papers. Hmmmmm? I wonder why.

    • last_cowboy  September 29, 2013 at 4:10 am

      Matt, Good points; but “the Donald” is an expert at one thing; deceiving the American people. He has been involved in the SSG pretty much all his life, along with Dick Cheney, and the biggest perp of the “one world government” gang of all, Daddy (George H. W.) Bush. I would say that he had his soul replaced with an alien implant decades ago, along with the others mentioned, and has been working against America, and the human race ever since. The excellent Secret Space War series on this web site talks a lot about this. There is something in the Donald, but it isn’t wisdom, and it isn’t human!

  2. Nova  September 8, 2013 at 4:30 am

    I understand that not logic nor moral issues will determine the decision to going to war on Syria. That war is planed for years and it should be the stepping stone into WW3.
    The USA and it`s allies are broke. They are isolated economicly by the BRICS and there allies. All nations on the planet looking for the exit now. And the firsth nations, like Russia, China and Iran do not longer accept the Dollar domination of the world. Worst case for the USA! At the same time we have a population waking up. The people of the world are not longer blind and def to the atrocities created by there Leaders. The people are going to present there bills to the Leaders in order to cash in. Cash in on all the promisses, like freedom, democracie, equality. All over the world the people are in demand. The elitist are under pressure. They lose control. They are scared to death that all there wrong doings came to light and the paople call for justice. They got everything to loose. But they are not going without a fight. And that`s what we are looking at.

  3. rms rms  September 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    You should read “the third truth” to get insight on Donald Rumsfield, there’s a chapter on him. He isn’t stupid. He’s a freemason who knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s pretending to be a teacher. So pointing out he isn’t consistent means nothing. He’s the guy who said “a missile strike will happen” twice right before the pentagon was hit with a missile. That’s how freemasons do things. They mock the people they’re killing and defrauding and posing as prophets and teachers while they do it.


  4. Allesandro  September 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    It would be MOST interesting to know who has already gone to Deep Underground Military Bases and where, and when

    If the Russians are in bunkers, it’s stands to reason these bribed members of Congress and many others linked to them, must already be there or heading there. Maybe that’s why the attitude we’re seeing by members, knowing full well they have a readily available escape route, is so cavalier, BTW we paid for them yet have no access.

    These people, if you can call them that, should have to stand front and center, if any attack occurs on the U.S. It just doesn’t seem right that they can make decisions to go to WAR and then escape the consequences of those decisions.

    • gerryhiles  September 8, 2013 at 12:22 am

      I remember reading – many years ago – that the Soviets built massive bunkers for the general population and not just the government/elites. No such preparedness exists in the West, all the concentration has been on “continuity of government”.

      A parallel thrust in the Soviet Union – and now the Russian Federation – was/is to concentrate on defence (hence the best systems in the world, e.g. S400), whereas in the West it’s been mainly about attack systems of offence, which will hopefully fail when Syria is attacked.

    • DaveE  September 8, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Kharmic justice usually happens in the next lifetime, but I think there may be BIG exception, this time, since the survival of the planet is at stake. The final judgement, second coming, etc. are all metaphors for the workings of kharma, just not the usual process.

  5. Chandler  September 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Well I know a few things that were once unknown but that was known to many unknowns. But this known fellow who was once unknown should’ve stayed unknown for when he became known he became hated. Hated for the unknown menace that was within but became known after serving several administrations seeking war in the unknown wherever. So today we know what we know and so kuch that was unknown then is known today, that many of us wish stayed unknown.
    Unknown to many is bin Laden died in 01, and all this raid mularkey is a hoax as is Aurora, Sandy Hook, and Boston bombing. Those unknowns have accused many innocent now knowns and it is not known what the real truth is. A known group of Craft International misfits were bombing that day many unknowns who became known, when they were unknowingly killed by the directional bomb blast not intended to kill the unknowns. The unknown actors amputees that day made their existence known, although they hide and remain unknown. It is now known we have been hoodwinked and bamboozled by a bunch of unfit and demented unknowns who don’t want to become known because they are cowards to the infinite degree.
    So what is known now is that they still remain unknown, although they are known due to their lies and misguided cowardice lives they knowingly live. What we now know is these disasters were all hoaxes, and not very well executed at all by the unknown who prefer not ever to be known because they are unknowns and the only way they live.

    • PAUL LEO FASO  September 8, 2013 at 7:12 am

      The best way left for the unknown ones be be known, is to put them on trial for war crimes and treason, then put name tags on their bodies after they are executed.

    • Chandler  September 8, 2013 at 9:09 am

      Seems odd using the word “wisdom” with Donald Rumsfeld doesn’t it?

    • Charlotte NC Bill  September 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      hmmm….yes, they ought not be in the same sentence….ever.

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