Rumsfeld, Donald Henry

Rumsfeld, Donald Henry,

1932–, American government official, b. Chicago, grad. Princeton (B.A.). A Republican with a reputation as a skilled political infighter, he was a congressman from Illinois from 1963 to 1969, when he resigned to become director of the Office of Economic Opportunity in the NixonNixon, Richard Milhous,
1913–94, 37th President of the United States (1969–74), b. Yorba Linda, Calif. Political Career to 1968

A graduate of Whittier College and Duke law school, he practiced law in Whittier, Calif.
..... Click the link for more information.
 administration. Rumsfeld also served as U.S. ambassador to NATO (1971–73) under Nixon and later as President FordFord, Gerald Rudolph,
1913–2006, 38th president of the United States (1974–77), b. Omaha, Nebr. He was originally named Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but his parents were divorced when he was two, and when his mother remarried he assumed the name of his stepfather.
..... Click the link for more information.
's White House chief of staff (1974–75). In 1975, Rumsfeld was appointed secretary of defense; in that office he attempted to increase the military budget and deal with various problems of the troubled post–Vietnam WarVietnam War,
conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. The war began soon after the Geneva Conference provisionally divided (1954) Vietnam at 17° N lat.
..... Click the link for more information.
 era. After 1977 he worked as a corporate executive until he was named President Ronald ReaganReagan, Ronald Wilson
, 1911–2004, 40th president of the United States (1981–89), b. Tampico, Ill. In 1932, after graduation from Eureka College, he became a radio announcer and sportscaster.
..... Click the link for more information.
's special envoy to the Middle East (1983–84); he subsequently returned to the private sector.

In 2000, a quarter century after he first served as secretary of defense, he was appointed again to the office by President George W. BushBush, George Walker,
1946–, 43d President of the United States (2001–9), b. New Haven, Conn. The eldest son of President George H. W. Bush, he was was raised in Texas and, like his father, attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and Yale, graduating in 1968.
..... Click the link for more information.
. Rumsfeld was an advocate of a national ballistic missile defense shield and flexible military forces, and his efforts to transform and modernize the military made him the most significant defense secretary since Robert McNamaraMcNamara, Robert Strange
, 1916–2009, U.S. secretary of defense (1961–68), b. San Francisco, grad Univ. of California, Berkeley (B.A., 1937), Harvard (M.B.A., 1939).
..... Click the link for more information.
. He also, however, became noted for blunt, sometimes undiplomatic public comments and statements, some of which alienated American allies, and for asserting his authority in a manner that alienated other government officials and some military officers. His standing was also hurt when the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which he strongly advocated and set the parameters for, failed to find weapons of mass destruction and led to an occupation that U.S. forces found more difficult than predicted, in part because they had not inadequately prepared for it. The U.S. abuse and tormenting of Iraqi prisoners, revealed in May, 2004, and a result of interrogation techniques developed with Rumsfeld's encouragement, as well as the ongoing insurgent and sectarian violence in Iraq led to calls for his removal, but the president several times reaffirmed his support for Rumsfeld. He resigned in 2006 as the administration moved to change its strategy in Iraq to respond to the increasing insurgency there; Robert M. GatesGates, Robert Michael,
1943–, American government official, U.S. secretary of defense (2006–11), b. Wichita, Kans. A circumspect and pragmatic career intelligence officer, he joined (1966) the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst and spent more than 25 years
..... Click the link for more information.
 succeeded him. Rumsfeld is the author of a sympathetic memoir of Gerald's Ford presidency and pardon of Nixon, When the Center Held (2018).


See his memoir (2011); biography by B. Graham (2009); J. Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (2004); E. Morris, dir., The Unknown Known (documentary, 2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.