by Eric Margolis by Eric Margolis
To US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Dear Rummy: In your speech to the American Legion in Salt Lake City last week, you compared critics of your wars abroad to appeasers of Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney repeated this same bizarre theme to the convention.
Allow me to disagree, Mr. Secretary.
I’m also a member of American Legion and I don’t agree with all those well-meaning but insular vets who cheered you in Utah. What most of them know about Iraq or Afghanistan wouldn’t fill a golf ball.
So you may hornswaggle those good souls by claiming the administration is re-fighting World War II against "Islamofacists," i.e. reborn Nazis disguised as wicked Muslims. What ever would we do without those all-purpose Nazis?
I hear you called Saddam Hussein a "Nazi." Excuse me, were you not the Reagan Administration emissary who went to Baghdad in 1983 to offer Saddam military, financial and intelligence support in his war of aggression against Iran? Time for your memory pills, Rummy.
In late 2001, I opposed keeping US forces in Afghanistan, fearing they’d get stuck in a no-win guerilla war — which is just what has happened.
Before you invaded Iraq, I repeatedly wrote that Saddam had no wmd’s, and predicted the US would face guerilla and civil war, and a financial debacle, not the flowers promised by giddy neocons. It’s time to get out of these lost wars before another American soldier dies.
I guess that makes me a 1930’s-style "appeaser" and a lefty.
Hardly. I’m not one of the Munich crowd. Next to my desk, I have a large framed `Certificate of Recognition’ bearing the great eagle seal of the United States attesting to my service to the nation during the Cold War. It’s signed by you, Mr. Secretary.
At home, I keep my army uniform just in case WWIII erupts — not the absurd, fairy-tale claims we are waging a third world war against a rag-tag bunch of Muslim extremists being pumped out by the neocon fib factory, but a real war. My father fought in a real war, World War II, as a US Marine. He landed on Iwo Jima. Your bosses never served in the regular military, and never heard a shot fired in anger — except when blasting defenseless animals.
Rummy, as one of the few Bush Administration hawks who actually served in the armed forces, I had hoped you would not stoop to such absurd claims generated by the very same Pentagon neocons former Secretary Colin Powell called "crazies."
I know the President’s new buzzword is "Islamofascist." It focus-groups well in the Bible Belt and Miami. But I’m deeply disappointed you would stoop to such cheap, insulting, Dr. Goebbels-style propaganda.
As an educated man, you know fascism is a phenomena of western industrial states in which racists and militarists join hands with conservative parties and the military industrial complex to form the fascist, corporate state.
Fascism is unknown in the Muslim World. Mussolini and Hitler were Christians. The real closet fascists are in North America. "Islamofacist" is as meaningless as that favored term of anti-Semites, "Judeo-Nazi."
I’m a reluctantly retired Cold Warrior, not an appeaser. I’ve never appeased anyone. But as an old soldier, modest military historian, and war correspondent, I’ve learned all good generals know when to retreat. Retreat is as useful maneuver as attack. Only fools stay put.
Brainless slogans like "stay the course," and "we won’t cut and run" bring applause at Legion conventions, but they are a recipe for military defeat. It was precisely Hitler’s monomaniacal refusal to allow his 6th Army to retreat from encirclement at Stalingrad that brought Germany its greatest defeat.
Your $300 billion wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are going nowhere. As a Vietnam-era vet who enlisted in wartime to serve his country, I can tell you that pulling out of Vietnam, however painful and humiliating at the time, was also absolutely the right decision.
By refusing to withdraw from the lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, what you are doing is sacrificing soldier’s lives, and $6.5—7 billion a month, to save the skins of your political masters who lack the courage and patriotism to admit the failure of their foolish imperial dreams.
Forget WWII and face facts. The US is not fighting Hitler, George Bush is no Winston Churchill, and Muslims are not Nazis in turbans.