"Force always attracts men of low morality, and I believe it to be an invariable rule that tyrants of genius are succeeded by scoundrels." – Albert Einstein
Every war involves mistakes, setbacks and casualties, Rumsfeld acknowledged, and every army has members who do not live up to high standards. However, those negative factors cannot overshadow the hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women who serve with humanity and decency in the face of constant provocation, he said.
“That is important in any long struggle or any kind of long war, where any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere,” he said.
The Secretary went on to counsel resolve in combating what he called "a new type of fascism." This new "fascism", or "Islamofascism" as the Bush Administration likes to call it, is apparently similar to the old fascism of quainter times (as Alberto Gonzales likes to refer to most of human history). Mr. Rumsfeld urged all of us to keep our inner Neville Chamberlains in check in these trying times:
Drawing parallels to efforts by some nations to appease Adolf Hitler before World War II, Rumsfeld said it would be "folly" for the United States to ignore the rising dangers posed by a new enemy that he called "serious, lethal and relentless."
I completely agree with Donald Rumsfeld. We should not ignore dangers posed by new enemies, nor should we be morally or intellectually confused about the rightness of our cause. Because I agree with Mr. Rumsfeld, I urge Mr. Rumsfeld and his boss, George W Bush, to abide by this advice or step aside and let those who can meet these challenges carry the burden.
Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Bush have ignored the real enemy in this war, a certain bearded man named bin Laden, in favor of pursuing their neo-con fantasy of making the Middle East safe for oil exploitation. While we wallow in the quagmire of Iraq, Osama bin Laden and his cohorts enjoy the benefits of a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. By any standard, allowing the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks to roam free 5 years after that horrible day is a dereliction of duty on the part of our leaders. It is also a symptom of intellectual confusion, if not intellectual dishonesty, that in response to the 9/11 attacks the Bush Administration attacked a country, which by Mr. Bush’s own admission, had nothing to do with those attacks:
Q What did Iraq have to do with that?
THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?
Q The attack on the World Trade Center?
THE PRESIDENT: Nothing, except for it’s part of — and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a — the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I have made that case.
There you have it: al Qaeda attacks us and we attack Saddam Hussein. It is the superpower equivalent of a toddler’s temper tantrum.
Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Bush led us into the war in Iraq with images of mushroom clouds in our cities and flowers at our soldiers’ feet as they liberate Iraq. Either they were intellectually and morally confused when they sold us this quagmire or they were lying. Since the invasion, the Administration’s moral confusion has grown by leaps and bounds. After their initial casus belli of WMD fell apart, the Administration trotted out the "freedom is on the march" argument. To this day they claim that invading Iraq was the right thing to do even when the very rationale for the invasion has been so thoroughly discredited.
Mr. Rumsfeld has been morally deficient in his handling of the Iraq invasion. He was morally obtuse when looting broke out after the invasion due to lack of security (a fundamental moral and legal duty of the occupier); he was morally obtuse when the abuses took place in Abu Ghraib; he has been morally obtuse as Iraqi civilians are being butchered at alarming rates; he has been morally obtuse while massacres like Haditha and rapes of little girls occur on his watch; and, he has been morally obtuse as he signed death letters of fallen American GIs using an autopen. Mr. Rumsfeld and the boss who continues to employ him have demonstrated ample moral confusion in the past 5 years.
We as citizens have a right, and indeed an obligation, to question our leaders’ actions when they do not appear to serve the interest of the people. If we abdicate our duty as citizens to hold our leaders accountable, even in a time of war, especially in a time of war, we will have aided in the descent of our society into fascism. When our leaders have marched us into a quagmire as a result of a war of choice, we are entitled to moral and intellectual clarity from those very leaders. We must demand of our leaders the truth at all times – "trust me" does not work in a democracy. A demand by a leader of blind loyalty from the citizenry is the primary ingredient in the soup of fascism.
Now is the time for a leader and statesman to lead us out of the dangers of our time and into a more peaceful world. Now is the time for intellectual and moral honesty. Now is the time for great ideals buttressed by sound execution. A generation ago, John F. Kennedy called upon the world to shoulder the burden of his time:
Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need — not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation," a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
His call to America and to the world remains as urgent today as it was in his time. This country and this world is yearning for a leader of vision and intellect who can rise above the talking points and the politics of division to lead us out of the moral confusion that this Administration has thrust us into. Sadly, George W Bush is not that leader.
[Cross posted at Taylor Marsh]