Rumsfeld replaced after Republican election defeat

rums2.jpg(One more thing we have in common with the US, we both don’t have Defense Secretaries at the moment. No wait, Bush just announced a replacement. We haven’t heard a replacement yet though for our former RP defense secretary.)

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is standing down, after anger over the war in Iraq led to bruising losses for Republicans in mid-term elections. President George W Bush said that he and Mr Rumsfeld had agreed that a “fresh perspective” was needed in Iraq.

Former CIA Director Robert Gates has been nominated to replace Mr Rumsfeld.

The Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the polls, and the Senate balance of power hangs on a tight race in just one state, Virginia.

“It’s been quite a time,” said Mr Rumsfeld in a short departing speech, delivered alongside President Bush, two hours after the president had announced that he would be replaced.

As a key architect of the war in Iraq, Mr Rumsfeld had faced growing calls to quit as violence has continued to spiral three years after the US-led invasion.

“I have benefited greatly from criticism, and at no time have I suffered a lack thereof, ” Mr Rumsfeld said, quoting Winston Churchill.

Earlier, Mr Bush had said that his administration’s Iraq policy was “not working well enough, fast enough”, and that Mr Rumsfeld agreed that a “fresh perspective” was needed on the issue.

Mr Bush described Mr Rumsfeld as a “patriot who served this country with honour and distinction”, as well as “a trusted adviser and a friend”.

“America is safer and the world is more secure” as a result of Mr Rumsfeld’s leadership, he said.

He said the outgoing defence secretary was a “known known”, in reference to an infamous comment by Mr Rumsfeld about there being “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”.

Beleaguered

Popular frustration over the war in Iraq has been a key factor during the election campaign, and correspondents say Mr Rumsfeld had been looking increasingly beleaguered because of its apparent failures.

Mr Bush announced that Mr Rumsfeld was standing down minutes after the news came that the Democrats had won the Senate race in Montana, one of the two seats needed to wrest control of the upper chamber of Congress from the Republicans.

The US president described as “thumping” the Republicans’ set-back in the elections, in which the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years

But he said that with victory, there had to be responsibility, and that was why he would be working with Democrats on legislation.

The Democrats celebrated major gains in the House and Senate

Mr Gates, 63, will need to be confirmed by the Senate as the new defence secretary.

He served as CIA director for just over a year in the early 1990s, during the presidency of Mr Bush’s father, former President George Bush.

He is a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which is tasked with recommending ways of tackling the problems the US faces in Iraq.

Mr Gates said he believed the outcome of the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq would “shape our world for decades to come” and pledged to serve “with all my heart”.

‘Common ground’

The BBC’s John Simpson in Baghdad says there will be few tears shed by Iraqis for Donald Rumsfeld, who is identified as the architect of the brutal and dangerous conditions of daily life in the country.

Resentment has grown against the US-led troop presence there as violence has spiralled.

Despite a bitter, fiercely fought election campaign, Mr Bush said he was looking forward to working with Democrats.

“If you hold grudges in this line of work, you never get anything done,” he said.

He said he would seek to find “common ground” with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is set to become the first female speaker in the lower chamber.

Earlier she pledged that the Democrats would work with “civility” and “partnership, not partisanship” in their newly empowered position.

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