on You Mr. Secretary
By Mike Shannon
Even for a man to whom the words "glib," "self
absorbed," "arrogant" and "duplicitous"
appear to be perceived as complimentary, Friday, June 20's
performance at a nationally broadcast Pentagon news conference
marked a new low for Donald Rumsfeld.
By comparing the deaths of American service personnel with
the murder rate of Washington, D.C. the Secretary has shown
himself to have a degree of callousness that defies description.
The point of his moronic contention was that if the population
of the city of Washington was equal to that of Baghdad that
simple mathematical extrapolation would show the casualty
rate among the Americans soldiers is not so bad.
This rhetorical exercise goes far beyond bad taste. Following
the chain of command in the American Armed Forces, these are
his men he is discussing in so cold-hearted a manner. How
dare he discuss the deaths of these brave young men and women
with so cavalier an attitude?
It should be noted that these comments are in keeping with
the Secretary's public record of exhibiting disdainful disregard
for the welfare of the men and women he purports to hold in
such high regard. He is, after all, the same man who dismissed
the service of Vietnam-era draftees as "not adding value"
to the American Armed Forces even though over a quarter of
all combat deaths in Vietnam came from their ranks.
Mr Rumsfeld's latest shameful Freudian slip was intended
to offset the mounting political damage the casualty rate
in Iraq is having on the Bush Administration. With each new
report of dead and wounded American soldiers reaching the
eyes and ears of America, the validity of the President's
declaration of "Mission Accomplished" rings more and more
hollow. However, all Rumsfeld accomplished was to showcase,
in startling relief, a cognitive disconnect between the lives
of these soldiers and his all encompassing need to achieve
the objective that would make Prince Machiavelli and Doctor
Strangelove blush with feelings of gross inadequacy.
Not only it is disgraceful from a humanistic perspective,
the comparison is ludicrous on any number of levels. First,
its statistical validity is highly questionable. By neglecting
to mention, even in passing, the murders that are inevitably
taking place among the residents of Baghdad by its fellow
inhabitants, he completely skews the numbers in his favor.
Secondly, to use the capital of the United States as an example
to the world of how dangerous and poorly policed some cities
in America are, is an affront to every resident of Washington,
as well as the country at large. That Mr Rumsfeld is a high
ranking member of the administration which is charged with
maintaining the "general tranquility" of the United States,
he should be embarrassed to highlight woefully ineffective
their efforts are.
Most telling is his neglect to point out that the American
army may have invited itself into the city of Baghdad, but
now that they are there, there is no denying they represent
the rule of law. The only accurate comparison that could plausibly
be made is to compare the deaths of the American soldiers
on station in Baghdad with the murder of Washington police
officers. A comparison that would have exposed his logic to
be as preposterous as it truly is.
It was just a few short weeks ago that each American casualty
was treated as a newsworthy event. CNN was just one of many
media sources where the names, pictures, brief biography and
the how and where of each soldier killed thousands of miles
from home and hearth was prominently featured. Now with Mr
Rumsfeld's disgraceful comments the deaths of young Americans
in the service of their country have been reduced to statistical
He should be ashamed of himself.
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