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Donald Rumsfeld: Democracy in Iraq was "unrealistic"

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the British newspaper the Times that it was "unrealistic" to expect a democracy to emerge in Iraq following the United States' 2003 invasion.

"I'm not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories," Rumsfeld said. "The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. I was concerned about it when I first heard those words."

In 2003, weeks after the invasion, Rumsfeld dismissed concerns about chaos in the Middle Eastern country.

"It's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," he told reporters at the time. "They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that's what's going to happen here."

The Bush administration argued ahead of the Iraq war that Iraqis would embrace democracy.

"The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq's new government," President George W. Bush said in a February 2003 speech. "The nation of Iraq -- with its proud heritage, abundant resources and skilled and educated people -- is fully capable of moving toward democracy and living in freedom."

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