The New York Times reports Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told several thousand veterans at the American Legion’s national convention in Salt Lake City that critics of the administration are afflicted with “moral or intellectual confusion” about the real threats to our national security. Falling back on the usual distortions of the criticisms and inaccurate historical comparisons, Rumsfeld also presented the absurd idea that the press spent disproportionately more time on Abu Ghraib than a Medal of Honor given to Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith.
Citing the attacks on WTC, Madrid, Bali and London, Rumsfeld mistakenly asks:
”Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?” he asked.
”Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America — not the enemy — is the real source of the world’s troubles?”
Personally, I think the Military Intelligence is much better than this. Rumsfeld knows quite well these are not the beliefs or arguments of the critics. It’s just that he can’t argue the real criticisms, so he has to distort them in order to defend the administration.
First the critics have not advocated appeasing the terrorists. The idea is to work more positively and constructively with the countries who harbor and sometimes fund them. It is fairly well understood that you can’t negotiate with terrorists. There is no negotiating table, literally. Then the Bush Lite defenders claim the moral ground that we should never negotiate with any leader who has stated an intent to destroy America or see it destroyed. I was reminded recently of Kruschev’s infamous line at the UN: “We will bury you.” – delivered with the punctuation of his shoe striking the table. We negotiated with the USSR. They buried themselves – because the US waged a philosophical war of information about the real differences between the countries in quality of life.
The clearly stated proposal of the alternative plan to more violence is: work with the governments and the CITIZENS of other countries to build peace. Frankly, Secretary Rumsfeld, it should be obvious that the overwhelming majority of the planet’s population want to live in peace. If they are given a reasonable hope for living in peace and prosperity, they will work and fight for peace.
This is the crux of the misquoted idea that critics are “America Haters”, or think that America is the real source of the world’s problems. Are there any questions or doubts about the clear association of poverty with crime, violence, drugs and despair? I have quoted many times the Joplin refrain: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”. What are life and liberty without the freedom to learn, to develop a means of sustaining yourself and having a reasonable quality of life?
America has been cast as imperialist, on an empire campaign and becoming more fascist. Since that accusation has been thrown at the Bush administration for some years, we are now hearing counter accusations such as Islamofascists and that the world, according to Rummy, faces ”a new type of fascism”. What he thinks is new about it was not reported. I think most of us who see America’s role in contributing to the problem is as a usurper. According to Roget’s 6th edition, synonyms include: take command, appropriate, arrogate, overstep. Whether it is America’s history of not even knowing, let alone acknowledging, the unique histories and traditions of other countries; or the multinational American Corporations who have created circumstances that limit the ability of other people to run their own countries. The perception of America by many in other countries, is that we only share our wealth after taking away the capacity of others to create wealth for themselves.
There are Americans who agree with that perception. Who think that contributing in any way to the failure of others to work their way out of poverty, is as bad as more obvious forms of crime. Regardless of the truth, the degree of truth and any offsetting factors, it’s a problem that many other countries have with America. In conflict resolution, the first thing that has to happen is for both sides to “own the problem”. All this basically establishes is that both acknowledge a problem and understand the perspective of the other side. From there, differences and changes in the relationship can be worked out.
The utter refusal of this administration to acknowledge the right of others to have a different perception of reality, whether American or foreign, is the root cause of it’s many failures. The Bush administration does not seem to understand that the devastation of the Gulf states by a natural disaster and the devastation of a country by an illegal invasion are not two sides of a coin. The impact on the individuals is essentially similar. Neither has any idea how long it will take for life to take on some semblance of normal again. There is a difference of perception in a devastation that is entirely related to human fault and the one that has been severely enlarged by it. War is hell – it is not inevitable. At least Mother Nature did the damage and left. American soldiers are still in Iraq, lightning rods for violence, defending themselves from enemies they can’t identify and creating victims out of innocent civilians.
The American Legion members will also hear from Condolezza Rice today, as well as Bush later in the week. Rummy and Cheney were both at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Reno on Monday. I wonder if John Murtha, John Kerry, Russ Feingold or any other Progressives who have come up with other ways to handle terrorism were invited to speak. Another would be Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a former Army officer and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said in an interview Tuesday that ”no one has misread history more than” Rumsfeld.
Nor has anyone misread reality more than Rumsfeld.