Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech in Utah at the American Legion Convention on Tuesday that appears to have brought out the very best of lefty hypocrisy, hand wringing, and faux outrage. For that, perhaps the DoD can mint a new kind of medal for Rummy and award it in lieu of any of his rosy Iraq scenarios coming true. At the very least, the Secretary’s speech proved that his usefulness to the cause of victory in Iraq and the War on Terror is not entirely at an end.
Despite his numerous shortcomings – pointed out here and elsewhere – Rumsfeld has always fulfilled his duty as spokesman for American military policy by supplying an excellent intellectual/historical framework for our actions. My beef has never been with his general defense of the war but rather with his Pollyanish responses to what has specifically been happening on the ground in Iraq. In this, he is no different than any other administration spokesman whose overly optimistic assumptions and scenarios about Iraq have been proven wrong time and time again.
But the Secretary has, according to the left and their fair-haired boy Keith Olberman, committed the cardinal sin of using historical analogy to critique their utter blindness about the consequences of leaving Iraq before some kind of stability is achieved as well as their continuing disbelief that the War on Terror is anything except some kind of gigantic political game being used by Republicans to win elections.
Rummy’s choice of 1930’s England was, in my judgment, a poor one (as was Olberman’s laughable choice of the same time period to respond to the Secretary’s criticism). Poor Neville Chamberlain’s corpse has been dug up and displayed so much recently that the damn thing is falling apart already. In essence, Rummy’s analogy using 1930’s Britain and comparing the appeasement policies of the Democratic left with Chamberlain’s kowtowing to Hitler was, if nothing else, eloquently put:
Over the next decades, a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be accommodated, then the carnage and the destruction of then-recent memory of World War I could be avoided.
It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis, the rise of fascism and nazism, they 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. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace, even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Winston Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.
One could write volumes about why Churchill was in the political wilderness, how his imperial ambitions regarding India had come a cropper of political reality and how he had angered his own party to the point that he had been stripped of his leadership positions. And people suspected – rightly so – that Churchill’s anti-Nazism while obviously heartfelt, was also a convenient way to tweak first the government of Stanley Baldwin and then Chamberlain. He may indeed have been a prophet but hardly pure of heart or without an agenda of his own. This made his critique of appeasement policy ring very hollow with most MP’s and caused a vicious push back by Baldwin especially who despised Churchill personally.
But please observe Keith Olberman’s towering rant against Rumsfeld last night and how he jumped on both the historical analogy with the 1930’s and this Rumsfeld observation:
And in every army, there are occasional bad actors, the ones who dominate the headlines today, who don’t live up to the standards of the oath and of our country. But you also know that they are a very, very small percentage of the literally hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women in all theaters in this struggle who are serving our country with humanity, with decency, with professionalism, and with courage in the face of continuous provocation. (Applause.)
And that is important in any long struggle or long war, where any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong, can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.
Our enemies know this well. They 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. They doctor photographs of casualties. They use civilians as human shields. And then they try to provoke an outcry when civilians are killed in their midst, which of course was their intent.
Rumsfeld is saying that America is right and our enemies are wrong and that anyone who doesn’t agree with that is “morally and intellectually” confused. But Olberman took that phrase and ran with it, positing the outrageous notion that Rumsfeld was saying that lefties who disagree with the Administration about Iraq are disloyal” and immoral:
Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysisâ€”and the sober contemplationâ€”of every American.
For it did 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, it credits those same transient occupants—our employees—with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administrationâ€™s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.
How we get from Rummy accusing the left of being “morally and intellectually confused” to being “disloyal” is quite a stretch, except for those like Olberman who bristle at the notion probably as a result of a guilty conscience. How else to explain their reaction?
And being “morally confused” is not the same as “impugning” someone’s morality. If Rumsfeld wanted to say that, I suspect that he would have come out and said that war opponents were immoral. It appears that Olberman is having trouble understanding the English language, not surprising for the former Sportscenter anchor who once thought that a gay Republican journalist with a White House press pass would bring down the President.
Leaping to conclusions is the least of Olberman’s problems in his little speech. His laughable description of the Baldwin/Chamberlain analogy to Bush would have made great stand up material:
In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™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 perilâ€”with a growing evilâ€”powerful and remorseless.
That government, like Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the â€œsecret information.â€ It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™s—questioning their intellect and their morality.
That government was Englandâ€™s, in the 1930â€™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 its own policies, its own conclusions â€” its own omniscience—needed to be dismissed.
The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.
In the immortal words of that famous movie Defense Secretary Albert Nimzicki in Independence Day, “That’s not entirely accurate.”
Confusing myopia with conspiracy is just about par for the course for Olberman, whose paranoia becomes much clearer later in his screed. The facts are a little more prosaic in that Chamberlain, while knowing of Germany’s many violations of Versailles also had other fish on the griddle in Europe at the time including having to deal with the clear and unmistakable designs of the Soviet Union on the Baltic states as well as his having to deal with the fact of French weakness and defeatism.
Chamberlain’s myopia lay in his belief – exploited by Hitler to the fullest – that Germany as a buffer against Soviet aggression in Eastern Europe was an absolute necessity. The French were weak, divided, and willing to avoid war at all costs. Sacrificing the Czechs was unconscionably cynical but, by Chamberlain’s lights, necessary. The later excuse that Munich gave England time to rearm doesn’t wash as much as his cold, calculations of power politics, realizing that without the Czech betrayal, Chamberlain would have to go to war and destroy the only military that could stop Soviet expansion which was wrongly seen as the true threat to the continent at that time.
The fact that there was almost universal support for this policy in Great Britain sort of gives the lie to Olberman’s contention that Chamberlain’s government “...[D]ismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™s—questioning their intellect and their morality.” There simply were no critics outside of Churchill and a few cronies. There was no political opposition to speak of in Parliament. Churchill, for all intents and purposes, was alone. First Baldwin and then Chamberlain’s undermining of Churchill had as much to do with their personal dislike for him and his overweening ambitions as it did with any concern they had that the future Prime Minister’s critique would damage them politically.
But the guts of Olberman’s criticism is very basic; that dissent does not equal disloyalty. The fact that Rumsefeld never mentions the word “disloyal” or “patriotism” explodes Olberman’s basic premise. If being “confused” is the same as being “disloyal” 95% of the Congress could be placed in that category.
What makes Olberman’s rant even more problematic is his belief that any critique by the left of the Administration must not be answered at all. The very act of the Administration defending itself is a way to stifle dissent and put liberty in jeopardy. So despite being called a liar, a fascist, Hitler, a dictator, and any number of other charges made by liberals, the very act of answering their inanities proves their point.
And what happens when critics like Olberman put on their tin foil hats and go on national TV to spout nonsense like this:
Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire â€œFog of Fearâ€ which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have â€” inadvertently or intentionally â€” profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.
That’s right. Olberman is saying that the President and Vice President of the United States may have personally profited from the war in Iraq. In other words, the President of the United States went to war to personally enrich himself.
Note that he doesn’t say that, but only hints at it. Indeed, as with all the loony left conspiracy theories, they practice a technique used by salesmen to lead the customer to the “right” conclusion. Instead of saying “We went to war because Bush/Cheney are greedy, heartless bastards who wanted to personally get rich off the profits of Haliburton” they instead add a caveat (“inadvertently”) and leave the conclusion (Bush + War + Personal fortune) for the listener to finish. This has the virtue of making them sound almost reasonable – except when you take their logic to its obvious conclusion.
Finally, Olberman uses an Edward R. Murrow quote to ostensibly prove his point about dissent. What he inadvertently ends up doing is proving that he is a certified idiot:
â€œWe must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,â€ he said, in 1954. â€œWe must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
â€œWe 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.â€
Perhaps Olberman should practice what he preaches:
“Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have â€” inadvertently or intentionally â€” profited and benefited, both personally, and politically” (from the war)...
There is not one iota of proof that Bush has personally profited from the war. But according to Murrow (Keith’s hero), we must remember that “accusation is not proof.” So why the accusation?
One must conclude that Olberman is either a blundering idiot or, like most lefties, so blinded by speaking truth to power that he simply can’t make the connection between Murrow’s words and his own off base, unproven, ridiculous charges.
I suppose we better get used to this idea that criticizing liberals for their stupidity on Iraq or the War on Terror is proof that we are slipping into a dictatorship. Of course, the criticism will continue which means that someday, liberals are going to have to declare that either they were wrong or that we actually live in full blown banana republic style dictatorship. Since the chances of liberals ever admitting they were wrong are about as good as bringing the dinosaurs back to life and the idea that we will ever slip into a dictatorship under Bush almost as far fetched, we can expect this meme, like so many others advanced by the left over the years, will fall by the wayside once they discover another avenue of attack.