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Rumsfeld's Iraq-Germany analogy disputed

Former top officials disagree with comparison

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former top officials in two presidential administrations -- one Democratic, one Republican -- disagreed Sunday with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's characterization of what would happen if the United States were to pull out of the war in Iraq.

"Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis," Rumsfeld wrote in an opinion piece published Sunday -- the third anniversary of the beginning of the U.S.-led war in Iraq -- in the Washington Post.

The anniversary came as officials from Iraq and the United States differed on whether there is all-out civil war there. (Full story)

Henry Kissinger, who served with U.S. forces in Germany at the end of World War II and who served as secretary of state under Republican Presidents Nixon and Ford, said the situations are not analogous.

"In Germany, the opposition was completely crushed; there was no significant resistance movement," the German-born diplomat told CNN's "Late Edition."

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as national security adviser under President Carter, a Democrat, was less charitable.

"That is really absolutely crazy to anyone who knows history," he said. "There was no alternative to our presence. The Germans were totally crushed. For Secretary Rumsfeld to be talking this way suggests either he doesn't know history or he's simply demagoguing."

Rumsfeld has been a lightning rod for complaints against the wars on terrorism and Iraq since shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. (Watch the debate over Rumsfeld -- 2:38)

He told CNN in February 2005 that he had twice offered President Bush his resignation during the height of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, but the president refused to accept it. (Full story)

His record in Iraq came in for fresh criticism Sunday from a man who worked under him.

"He has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq," said Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.

"Mr. Rumsfeld must step down," he wrote in an opinion piece published Sunday in the New York Times.

"Secretary Rumsfeld serves at the pleasure of the president," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in a written statement Sunday. "Retired Gen. Eaton is certainly entitled to his opinion."

Eaton's opinion was shared by Sen. Joseph Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a frequent critic of the defense secretary.

"Imagine what would happen if it were announced tomorrow in the headlines of the papers of America and throughout the world that Rumsfeld was fired," the Delaware senator told CNN.

"It would energize, energize the rest of the world, to be willing to help us. It would energize American forces, it would energize the political environment. Yes, he should step down."

Asked his opinion, Sen. Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, chose neither to defend nor to criticize Rumsfeld.

"If President Bush ever wants to visit with me privately about my counsel on his Cabinet, I am sure he will ask me, but it appears to me it would not be helpful for me to make a comment," the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said.

U.S. officials have expressed hopes that the number of troops in Iraq could be reduced later this year depending on the country's progress with security and politics.

Bush delivered a speech last week at George Washington University where he said "as more capable Iraqi police and soldiers come on line, they will assume responsibility for more territory with the goal of having the Iraqis control more territory than the coalition, by the end of 2006."

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