NYT: Frank Rich on 'Donald Rumsfeld's dance with the Nazis'

Published: Saturday September 2, 2006

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New York Times columnist Frank Rich slams "Donald Rumsfeld's dance with the Nazis" in a recent speech as particularly "brazen" coming from a Defense Secretary who was once photographed shaking hands with Saddam Hussein.

"Last week the man who gave us 'stuff happens' and 'you go to war with the Army you have' outdid himself," Rich writes. "In an instantly infamous address to the American Legion, he likened critics of the Iraq debacle to those who 'ridiculed or ignored' the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s and tried to appease Hitler."

"Such Americans, he said, suffer from a 'moral or intellectual confusion' and fail to recognize the 'new type of fascism' represented by terrorists," Rich continues. "Presumably he was not only describing the usual array of 'Defeatocrats' but also the first President Bush, who had already been implicitly tarred as an appeaser by Tony Snow last month for failing to knock out Saddam in 1991."

Excerpts from Rich's column:


...what made Rumsfeld's performance special was the preview it offered of the ambitious propaganda campaign planned between now and Election Day. An on-the-ropes White House plans to stop at nothing when rewriting its record of defeat (not to be confused with defeatism) in a war that has now lasted longer than America's fight against the actual Nazis in World War II.

Here's how brazen Rumsfeld was when he invoked Hitler's appeasers to score his cheap points: Since Hitler was photographed warmly shaking Neville Chamberlain's hand at Munich in 1938, the only image that comes close to matching it in epochal obsequiousness is the December 1983 photograph of Rumsfeld himself in Baghdad, warmly shaking the hand of Saddam Hussein in full fascist regalia. Is the defense secretary so self-deluded that he thought no one would remember a picture so easily Googled on the Web? Or worse, is he just too shameless to care?

...Well before Rumsfeld's trip, Amnesty International had reported the dictator's use of torture -- "beating, burning, sexual abuse and the infliction of electric shocks" -- on hundreds of political prisoners. Dozens more had been summarily executed or had "disappeared." American intelligence agencies knew that Saddam had used chemical weapons to gas both Iraqi Kurds and Iranians.

According to declassified State Department memos detailing Rumsfeld's Baghdad meetings, the American visitor never raised the subject of these crimes with his host...