Ex-president George H.W. Bush lashes out at Cheney, Rumsfeld

Former president George H.W. Bush has reportedly lashed out at Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, two key figures in his son George W. Bush's presidency, slamming the former as an "iron ass" and the latter as "arrogant" in a forthcoming book.

Bush, president from 1989-1993, has mostly been silent on issues regarding his son's presidency and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But in an upcoming biography, he has some choice words for the two men who played a pivotal role in George W.'s 2001-2009 White House.

Former vice president Cheney is an "iron ass" who built "his own empire" and had too much of a "hard-line" over his son in convincing him to use military force around the world, Bush said, according to The New York Times on Thursday, citing the former president's biographer Jon Meacham.

And former defense secretary Rumsfeld was an "arrogant fellow", blind to the opinions of others, who "served the president badly," Bush said.

Bush knows Cheney well, as the latter was his secretary of defense during the 1991 Operation Desert Storm, the US-led military push that liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army.

However as his son's vice president, "he just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with," Bush said.

He speculated that Cheney was influenced by his deeply conservative wife Lynne, whom Bush described as "the eminence grise."

The elder Bush however acknowledged that his son was responsible for empowering Cheney and Rumsfeld, and at times used language that was too bellicose.

"Hot rhetoric is pretty easy to get headlines, but it doesn't necessarily solve the diplomatic problem," Bush told Meacham, according to The Times.

Bush specifically cited George W.'s 2002 "Axis of Evil" speech linking US enemies Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

"You go back to the 'axis of evil' and these things and I think that might be historically proved to be not benefiting anything," Bush said.

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