Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld questioned the Obama administration's motives for an attack on Syria on Fox Business Network on Wednesday by asking whether it was in the national interest of the U.S.
"There really hasn't been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation," Rumsfeld said in an interview with Neil Cavuto. He said that the real concern in the region is Iran's nuclear program and their funding of terrorism, of which he claimed the Assad government is also guilty.
Of course, the sad irony of Rumsfeld's critique is that he was one of the architects of the Iraq War under George W. Bush, where the reasons given for going to war were suspicious at best and blatant lies at worst. While Rumsfeld should be the last person to talk about convoluted motives for going into a potential disastrous war, he does raise a valid question in this case: is a limited strike on Syria in the national interest of the United States?
The answer is a pretty clear no. The potential consequences of an attack outweigh any minuscule benefits that scaring Assad into a truce might bring. The shaky evidence the Obama administration brought forth is just that. The potential removal of Assad would leave a power vacuum that could be filled by extremists, and set off more mass killings and potentially spur a regional firestorm. Of course, China and Russia's have been adamantly against any military action in Syria as it is one of their allies in the region.
While Rumsfeld's initial point about national interest is salient, the rest of his arguments fell back on typical neoconservative rhetoric: Iran is still the big problem in the region and the Obama administration's scaling back of the U.S.'s presence in the world is "apologetic" and detrimental to the world order. So, it's not necessarily that Rumsfeld has turned over a new leaf and became a realist, or even anti-interventionist, but rather that there is not enough evidence available for his liking. Keep in mind this is coming from the same man who coined the infamous line "the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence" and rammed home the belief that Iraq held weapons of mass destruction despite evidence to the contrary.
So, while it smacks of hypocrisy for Rumsfeld to criticize the White House for launching an attack on Syria without any defined national interest at stake, it's still pretty clear, even for a neoconservative of Rumsfeld's ilk,that a potential war with Syria is not in the United States' interest.