Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech in Reno, Nevada to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Rumsfeld could have taken the opportunity to address the critical challenges of the war in Iraq: the security situation in Baghdad, mounting U.S. military and Iraqi civilian casualties and out-of-control costs.
Instead, he took the opportunity to repeatedly attack — implicitly and explicitly — anyone who dares to criticize the administration’s “stay the course” policy. Some excerpts:
— “And while some argue for tossing in the towel, the enemy is waiting and hoping for us to do just that. Early on, I learned from my dad — a veteran of World War II — that if you start quitting things, pretty soon you’ve become a quitter.”
— “Surely by now we have learned the lesson that when our country gives our troops a mission, they should have the resources and support to finish the job. And surely, we have learned the dangers of giving the enemy the false impression that Americans cannot stomach a tough fight.”
— “I do worry about the lack of perspective in our national dialogue today — the perspective of history…Today we are engaged in conflicts that are again testing whether or not we believe that the defense of liberty is worth the cost.”
— “[W]e must keep a “Blame America First” mentality from undermining our efforts today in another long war against a determined enemy.”
Apparently, the problem isn’t that our strategy in Iraq is failing. It’s that the critics aren’t as macho as Donald Rumsfeld.