Saturday, September 02, 2006

In Praise of Donald Rumsfeld

In a speech Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lashed out at his critics, accusing them of "appeasing fascism." Well it turns out that Rumsfeld in turn was criticized for his comments, with prominent Democrats attacking Rumsfeld and the administration for their wartime leadership.

The Washington Times, however,
published an editorial friday in praise of Rumsfeld, indicating that his sentiments offer the right words at the right time:

Liberal elites have offered a variety of reactions -- from contemptuous to apoplectic -- to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's address on Tuesday to the American Legion, in which he noted the many parallels between the current struggle against Islamofascism and the situation prior to World War II. Mr. Rumsfeld's critics, among them Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Jack Reed and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are most upset over the fact that he had the temerity to point out that just as many in the West deluded themselves over the danger posed by the rise of Nazism and Japanese militarism during the 1930s, many people today do not understand that violent Islamism poses an existential threat.

Mr. Reid, for example, accused Mr. Rumsfeld of "lashing out at political enemies" in his speech, while the Los Angeles Times editorialized that Mr. Rumsfeld's criticism of a "Blame America First" mindset was a "canard." But the truth is that Mr. Rumsfeld never mentioned the Democrats in his speech. Instead, he demonstrated that just as isolationists ignored the real dangers prior to World War II, critics of U.S. policy today assume the worst about our side while ignoring the real dangers posed by Islamist terror.

The secretary of defense noted, for example, that prior to World War II, those who warned of the threat posed by fascism and Nazism "were ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated, or that it was someone else's problem." Mr. Rumsfeld pointed out that in September 1939, one senator (as it happens, a Republican), made the following statement upon learning that Hitler had invaded Poland, starting World War II: "Lord, if I had only talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided."

Mr. Rumsfeld went on to point out that in recent years, jihadists have struck targets around the world, including locations such as New York, Washington, London, Bali and Moscow. He criticized the notion that terrorism can be handled as if it were simply a "law enforcement" problem given the fact that every day, we learn of new plans to murder Americans and other free people. And Mr. Rumsfeld criticized Amnesty International for likening the military facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet-era gulag where millions of people were killed. He also criticized former CNN chief Eason Jordan for falsely accusing American soldiers of targeting journalists.

Mr. Rumsfeld rightly pointed out that slandering the military can damage American morale and embolden our enemies. He noted that the islamofascists "frequently invoke the names of Beirut or Somalia -- places they see as examples of American retreat and American weakness. And as we've seen -- even this month -- in Lebanon -- they design attacks and manipulate the media to try to demoralize public opinion."

In sum, Mr. Rumsfeld deserves praise -- not scorn -- for pointing out the parallels between today and the the 1930s. The critics should address his arguments instead of resorting to ad hominem attacks.
Rumsfeld published a commentary response to his critics yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, which is well-worth checking out, but here's a tidbit:

In an effort to avoid repeating the carnage of World War I, much of the Western world tried to appease the growing threats in Europe and Asia in the years before World War II. Those who warned against the rise of Nazism, fascism and communism were often ridiculed and ignored. The enemy we face today is different from the enemies we have faced in the past, but its goal is similar: to impose its fanatical ideology of hatred on the rest of the world.
Read the whole thing. Thank goodness for Secretary Rumsfeld.

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