SALT LAKE CITY — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared critics of the Bush administration to those who sought to appease the Nazis before World War II, warning Tuesday that the United States is confronting "a new type of fascism."
Rumsfeld, speaking before the American Legion convention, delivered some of his most explicit and extended attacks yet on the administration's critics, provoking criticism from furious Democrats who accused him of "campaigning on fear."
By comparing U.S. foreign policy with World War II and the Cold War, Rumsfeld sought to portray skeptics of Bush's foreign policy as being on the wrong side of history. Rumsfeld again ridiculed U.S. officials who, before World War II, wished to negotiate with Adolf Hitler.
"I recount that history because, once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," Rumsfeld said. "But some seem not to have learned history's lessons."
He continued: "Can we truly afford to believe that, somehow or some way, vicious extremists could be appeased?"
His use of the word "appease" was particularly notable, clearly tying administration critics to the failed efforts of the pre-Churchill British government to mollify Hitler.
Rumsfeld has become one of the Bush administration's most divisive figures, and demands for his resignation have become a litmus test in congressional races around the country.
When I first heard about this, I thought, "That's just Rumsfeld cowardly covering his own ass by insulting everyone else again." The disaster the Iraq war has become is, in large part, Donald Rumsfeld's signature written across the entire middle east. The lack of planning, the shortage of troops, the inability to foresee anything other than the rosy scenario he envisioned all were stamped with the SecDef's approval.
And now he points the finger at the vast majority of americans and tells us we're the problem -- what a complete ass, the guy is.
Crooks & Liars has a great video from Keith Olbermann. Both the video and the transcript are from C&L. (Mac Users: If you have trouble running Google video, try this hack. Otherwise, the video is available at C&L in either Windows or QT format.)
The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.
Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.
Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday demand the deep analysis -- and the sober contemplation -- of every American.
For they do not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; Worse, still, they credit those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.
Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.
It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it is right -- and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.
In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis.
For, in their time, there was another government faced with true peril -- with a growing evil - powerful and remorseless.
That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s - questioning their intellect and their morality.
That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.
It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.
It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.
It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted policies, conclusions - and omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.
The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.
Most relevant of all -- it "knew" that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile -- at best… morally or intellectually confused.
That critic’s name… was Winston Churchill.
Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.
History -- and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England -- taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty -- and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.
Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.
Excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards.
His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern version of the government… of Neville Chamberlain.
But back to today’s Omniscients.
That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused… is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count -- not just his. Had he or his President perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience -- about Osama Bin
Laden’s plans five years ago - about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago -- about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one* year ago -- we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.
But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.
Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to enveloppe this nation -- he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have -- inadvertently or intentionally -- profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.
And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes.
In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?
As a child, of whose heroism did he read?
On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?
With what country has he confused… the United States of America?
The confusion we -- as its citizens -- must now address, is stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart -- that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light… and we can, too.
The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this Administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.
And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism."
As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.
This country faces a new type of fascism -- indeed.
Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute… I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.
But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed, "confused" or "immoral."
Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full:
"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954. "We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
"We will not walk in fear -- one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men;
"Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were -- for the moment -- unpopular."
Does any of this Rummy rant sound familiar? It should; he was saying pretty much the same sort of bullshit before the war. From The Guardian:
The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said yesterday that the US could not afford to wait for conclusive proof of Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes before it attacked Iraq, and he equated the reluctance of America's allies to get involved with the appeasement of Nazi Germany.
His most outspoken remarks on Iraq to date appeared to be a deliberate move by the Bush administration to ratchet up the anti-Saddam rhetoric in the face of scepticism both at home and abroad.
Speaking of Nazi Germany, Mr Rumsfeld told Fox News: "Think of all the countries that said, well, we don't have enough evidence.
"I mean Mein Kampf had been written. Hitler had indicated what he intended to do. Maybe he won't attack us. Maybe he won't do this or that. Well, there were millions of people dead because of the miscalculations."
Although Mr Rumsfeld did not use the words Iraq or Saddam, Fox News reported that the context of the interview made it clear which country he was referring to. He said the risk of a terrorist attack with a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon was so high, that the US could not wait for more evidence before acting.
Same BS, different day. How right was Rumsfeld then? He and the other neocons were stupid enough to bully the US and the nations in the coalition into war. That was their mistake, not ours.
If we follow these fools down the road to war with Iran, then it'll be our mistake. History has already judged Rummy and the rest of the Bush administration. Our complicity in their crimes is still an open question.
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