Any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of a free society to persevere.
He then goes on in the speech to compare those of us who might have some niggling questions about whether we were lied into the war (we were) and whether we have a plan for actual victory in Iraq (we don’t) or the mis-named* War on Terror (nope, not one there either) to the countries which sought to appease Hitler in the months leading to World War II.
So far the best, and to be honest, only response I have seen is Keith Olbermann’s response from yesterday in which he eviscerates the parallel Rumsfeld sought to draw however Rumsfeld does have a point. America, as a nation, needs to act with a sense of history. It took under 200 years for us to forget that we are, or rather were, a revolutionary country where the people, led by a core of intelligentsia, rose up against our imperial overlords and cast off their bonds, determined to seek our own way in the world. Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that just over 200 years later our colonial governor, nee Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, was chased out of his own country and replaced with a populist theocratic republic? In the end the Iranian Revolution of 1979 was hijacked by the Ayatollah for his own purposes and assisted in the rise of radical Islamic fascisim rather than serving as an example of the vox populi.
The stated purpose of the Iraq invasion, as I understood it, was that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction and he was working on closing out the trifecta with his nuclear program which he was cleverly hiding from everyone; including himself, as it turns out. In addition to this reason there were some mighty unsubtle hints that Saddam was in bed with al-Qaeda and assisted in financing, if not planning, the 9-11 attacks. I think it is fair to say that both of these reasons have for the most part been torn to shreds. Of course we knew about the chemical and biological WMDs because we had the receipts from where we sold them to Saddam back in the ‘80s for his war against Iran, not that any viable WMDs have been found. In addition to this the administration has not been able to provide any incontrovertible evidence that Saddam still had a nuclear program. That’s right, as it turns out there wasn’t even yellow cake at Saddam’s birthday because of that damn Plame girl! Oh wait, they weren’t even trying to buy some since Saddam is a fan of the flan. (Happy birthday Saddam! Here’s some goo.) (That last parenthetical was not a prison joke of any kind. I would not stoop to that level.) As for raison d’etre the second I believe the GB All-Stars have backed off the “Saddam paid for/was involved in the 9-11 attacks” position and retreated to the “but he supported terrorism” position with the occasional shot of “if we had allowed him to gain a nuclear weapon he would have sold it to terrorists” for good measure. Of course that last little bit is suspect since he had a significantly smaller nuclear program than one Paul Stephens, but we’ll let that one slide since the third reason we invaded Iraq is the one I really want to riff on.
The third reason we invaded Iraq is to promote democracy and democratic reform in the region. Of course we might come off as being a bit hypocritical as we also support most of the other governments in the region which include a couple of kingdoms (Saudi Arabia and Bahrain) and a fistful of constitutional monarchies, which generally end up being better defined as oligarchies, and some emirates. And then there is the whole Palestinian Authority mess where we, in concert with Israel, essentially told the Palestinians to re-elect our boy or we would take our toys (read the aid that is supporting their faux-government) and go home. So what did they do? Rather than re-elect a criminally corrupt and negligent regime led by a cabal of former terrorists they chose a government led by a group of terrorists promising important changes. In response to this democratic decision by the Palestinians we, true to our word for once, packed it up and went home rather than seeking to work with the new, though distasteful to our refined sense of….oh Hell, I am not going to even try to be funny any more, I am sick of us being all about democracy unless that means you are going to elect someone we don’t like in which case we will overthrow them and put a dictator in their place.
Sorry for getting so ranty on this one, I just don’t like being compared to the collection of jackasses which signed the Munich Agreement in 1938. What I really wanted to point out is that, as I said, Rumsfeld was right in that we need to act with a sense of history, but he was very wrong about what part of history to which he was referring. Like Keith Olbermann, I would like to end with the following quote from Edward R. Murrow:
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. 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 unreason, 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.
* Bush recently tried to rechristen it the Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe In Free Societies Who Happen to Use Terror as a Weapon to Try and Shake the Conscience of the Free World. I have a whole PILE of thoughts on this one, however voting for a Democrat this election cycle might be considered as striking a first blow in this particular struggle.
(So I just wanted to point out that I think al-Qaeda would be pretty low on Saddam’s list of recipients for the bomb. I am betting that he would keep the sucker just like North Korea’s Deer Reader Kim Jong-il. I mean look how well it has worked out for him. He launches missile after missile in “tests” intended to show he matters, sells missile technology to anyone who can reach the window (Iran), and is suspected of engaging in international drug trafficking and what do we (the international community) do? Nothing except support his regime by providing fairly obscene amounts of food (China alone donated 530,840 tonnes of food to North Korea in 2005 and this was less than 50% of the food aid received by the country) and other aid as it continues on its merry way of not really mattering to anyone. Except the guy has a NUCLEAR WEAPON. It seems that quickest route to not being bothered by the U.S. is to get a nuclear weapon and then just sit on it because if you actually use it, or give it to someone to use, then you’ll be in big trouble. And lets face it, for all of his faults Saddam is not tragically stupid.)