'This Week' Transcript: Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld

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RUMSFELD: I think that argument is just pure nonsensical partisan politics. The coalition that currently is in place with respect to Libya is the -- is the smallest one in modern history. We had over 90 countries in the global war on terror that President Bush and Colin Powell put in place. We had dozens of countries involved in Afghanistan, dozens of countries involved in Iraq. We had 60 or 70 or 80 countries involved in the Proliferation Security Initiative, and still the Democrats were alleging that it was -- President Bush was a unilateralist. It's nonsense.

Now, going -- the first thing you have to do is recognize that, as I talk about in my book, the mission has to determine the coalition. The coalition ought not determine the mission.

Now, that being said, if you determine what your mission is and then you decide, as we did, with respect to Afghanistan, that you put together a coalition that fits that mission, that agrees with the mission, that's not going to back out of that mission, then you have a sufficient seriousness of purpose that you have a chance to prevail.

If you go into something with confusion and ambiguity about what the mission is -- and we've heard four or five different explanations about why we're there -- and that is the root of the problem, is the confusion that comes from that, confusion about what the mission is, confusion about who the rebels are, confusion about whether or not Gadhafi should be left in power, confusion about what the command and control should be.

It seems to me that we proceeded in a very orderly way. President Bush made a decision that America had been attacked and that that was unacceptable. We were going to go after the Al Qaida and remove the Taliban. He set about doing that and then put a coalition together that fit that mission. And that is exactly the way it should be done. And as you properly point out, it evolved into a NATO command in Afghanistan for the major portion of the effort. But there were not ambiguities about who was in charge.

TAPPER: All right. We're going to come back and talk to Secretary Rumsfeld about Afghanistan, Iraq, and he will answer his critics about his book, among them journalist Bob Woodward, who trashed the former defense chief's book as, quote, "one big clean-up job in a brazen effort to shift the blame to others," strong words. We'll give Secretary Rumsfeld a chance to respond right after this.

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RUMSFELD: A president comes in, he has to deal with the world like he finds it, not a terribly friendly world. It's not a world where everyone believes what we believe. It's a world where there are other military powers besides the United States. He has to deal with what he has.

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TAPPER: Vintage Donald Rumsfeld right there, appearing on ABC many Sundays ago, in 1976, during his first tour as secretary of defense. His second more turbulent Pentagon tour ended in 2006, after which Rumsfeld clammed up and went low-profile, but now he's back answering his critics with a new book on the New York Times best-seller list -- and I should note that all proceeds are going to military charities that support the wounded and the families of the fallen. Secretary Rumsfeld joins us again from Florida.

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