Rumsfeld is clearly right, although inexcusably late in admitting it. The invasion of Iraq was an unmitigated disaster undertaken with no meaningful justification whatever. It emerged from various misconceptions, fallacies and a delusion: (1) The delusion sometimes referred to as the secular religion of democracy. (2) The belief that Saddam Hussein tried to have George W. Bush’s father assassinated. (3) The belief that Iraq under Saddam was a threat to the national security of the United States. (4) The belief that Saddam was hiding or protecting al-Qaida operatives.
The first reason is not limited to any particular administration. It has for long time been a centerpiece of the secular canon. It was wrong in Iraq, it was wrong in Afghanistan and it has been wrong in many other places. It is finally dying out–for better or for worse. Saddam imposed a Sunni dictatorship on a majority Shiite country. The Assads imposed a (heretical) Shiite dictatorship on a majority Sunni country. Once they fell (Saddam) or were confined to a corner of their country (Assad) chaos ensued. It will continue and both countries will probably cease to exist. To quote Franklin Roosevelt, referring to Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo “He is a son of a bitch, but he is OUR son of a bitch”.
I have personal knowledge that GWB was determined to oust Saddam from the day he took office, and was delighted to have excuses for doing so, which brings us to….
The idea that Saddam was a national security threat to the United States, This stems from various sources: the common confusion between national interests, which can be pursued by all means short of war and the specific category of national interest called national security, which is a threat to the existence or territorial integrity of the state. Only in the latter case is military action justified. Saddam was no threat to the national security of the U.S., with or without chemical or biological weapons. On that basis alone most of a trillion dollars could and should have been saved.
Finally, there was no credible evidence that Saddam was allied with al-Qaida, as the Taliban regime in Afghanistan clearly was.
So, as David says, a trillion dollars down the toilet for nothing and the story is far from over. More money, more materiel and more men will be sacrificed on the altars of delusion and error. The world and the country will continue to pay the costs for generations to come. Costs in treasure, in human lives and in the existential threat to Western Civilization by secular and religions barbarians freed from their cages by a well-meaning adolescent twit sitting in the seat of power…