Eric Margolis: A letter to Rummy

By ERIC MARGOLIS - Sun, September 3, 2006

To U.S. 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 1930s.

Allow me to disagree, Mr. Secretary.

I’m also a member of American Legion — Post 7, Toronto — 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 hornswoggle these good souls by claiming the administration is re-fighting World War II against “Islamo-facists,” 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 official 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.

I opposed keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan, fearing, as has happened, that they’d get stuck in a no-win guerilla war. Before you invaded Iraq, I wrote Saddam had no WMDs, and predicted the U.S. would face guerilla and civil war, and a financial debacle, not flowers. Today, I say get out of these lost wars before another American soldier dies.

I guess that makes me a 1930s-style “appeaser” and a leftie. A neocon mama’s boy from Canada, whose closest brush with combat was a dinnertime spat between his parents, even had the chutzpah to call me “unpatriotic” in a U.S. magazine article for opposing the Iraq war.

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. “We the people of this nation are forever grateful,” it says.

It’s signed by you, Mr Secretary.

At home, I keep my army uniform in just case a real World War III erupts — not the absurd, fairy-tale third world war against a rag-tag bunch of Muslim extremists that the neocon fib factory claims we’re fighting, but a real war.

Rummy, I had hoped that you, as one of the few Bush administration hawks who actually served in the armed forces, 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 “Islamo-fascist.” It focus-groups well in the Bible Belt and Miami. But I’m deeply disappointed you would stoop to such cheap, insulting Dr.-Goebbles-style propaganda.

As an educated man, you know fascism is a phenomenon 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. ”Islamo-facist” is as meaningless as that favoured 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 a manoeuvre 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, I can tell you that pulling out of Vietnam, however painful and humiliating, was also absolutely the right decision.

Forget WWII and face facts. The U.S. is not fighting Hitler, George Bush is no Gen. George Patton, and Muslims are not Nazis in turbans.

Right on. Go Margolis!

Right on. Go Margolis!