Monday, September 25, 2006

The long haul

Jay Nordlinger has an interview up with Donald Rumsfeld, where the Secretary of Defense offers some interesting thoughts about our current situation in the context of the Cold War:

"I remind Rumsfeld that, when we last talked — three years ago — I asked him whether the American people would stick with the War on Terror. And he replied, on that occasion, 'They stuck with the Cold War.'

'Yeah,' Rumsfeld says now. 'Long time. Lot of wavering. A lot of cold feet at the various points along the way. I remember being in Spain and getting a phone call saying I had to come back to testify against the Mansfield Amendment,' which proposed to pull U.S. troops out of Europe. 'I was ambassador to NATO at the time — early ’70s. And here you are: The Cold War’s in full flower, and the Soviet Union’s making mischief in Central America and Africa and subjugating Eastern Europe . . .' Yet the proposal was made all the same. . .

So, continues the SecDef, 'you look back on it now and say, ‘Oh, my goodness, it was a good, straight, upward path. We all knew all along the Cold War would last a long time. We knew all along it would be tough, but we never wavered and never doubted.’ And we did waver and doubt, and there were plenty of people who got cold feet as they went along.' . . .

The Terror War, says Rumsfeld, is 'going to be long, much more like the Cold War than World War I or II in terms of length.' And it’s going to be won, 'as much as by anything,' by 'people within that faith,' Islam, 'who don’t want to see their religion hijacked and who are not violent extremists and who do not get up in the morning and think that beheading people and forcing everyone else to be exactly like they want them to be is the preferred way of life.'"
We have a tendency to romanticize things that have come before - to think that people were more united than they were, that the eventually successful strategy was obvious to all (or any) at the time, that there weren't people thought to be right in the moment who were proven to be wrong in the end. It is useful to remember that history is always messy, especially when it is being made.

Oh and by the way, I'm pretty sure Rumsfeld wasn't talking about this guy when he was discussing who needs to step up within Islam:
"Sheikh Abu Saqer, leader of Gaza's Jihadia Salafiya Islamic outreach movement, which seeks to make secular Muslims more religious, called for holy war against the Pope.

He said Christian leaders such as Benedict XVI are 'afraid' because they realize Islam is Allah's favorite religion and that they are going to hell unless they convert. The Gaza preacher declared the 'green flag of Muhammad' would soon be raised over the Vatican. . .

Abu Saqer claimed he did not condone violence. He blamed the pope for recent anti-Christian attacks in the Palestinian territories.

'We are deeply sorry for these acts that we condemn. But I am sorry that this little racist did not think of the consequences upon the Christians in the Arab world when he insulted our Prophet. It is an open war - the Muslims against all the others.'"

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