I used to really enjoy Donald Rumsfeld’s press conferences because he could be relied on not to parrot any boring talking points. Now that he’s promoting his new book, he’s making the rounds and still stymieing reporters with his bluntness and refusal to accept the assumptions behind many of their questions.
John Hawkins at RWN interviewed him and he’s as direct as ever:
Rumsfeld on the rules of engagement: I remember being one time with a commander out, way out in the fringes near the border in Iraq, and he was giving me a report. He told me that his people had been attacked from the Syrian border and then he very proudly said that he responded proportionately. I remember going back and talking the General Casey in Baghdad and saying George, here’s a man who thinks that he’s doing the right thing by responding proportionately. Now what’s that mean? That if you are on the Iraq side of the border and there are some people on the other side of the border firing at you with mortars, rockets, automatic weapons, RPGs, you name it – and he thinks his job is to respond proportionately? That means eventually, some of our people are going to get killed. The people shooting are already in a defensive position. So if you respond proportionately, they fire three things, you fire three things back. Does that make any sense? It makes no sense to me. You ought to kill them.
I love that – it’s so obvious, and yet it’s just the sort of statement to make liberal heads explode, especially because we’re all so conditioned to think that a “proportionate response” is appropriate. It’s a ludicrous concept – Winston Churchill would laugh out loud at the idea. Proportionate responses are what you do when you want to prolong a war; Israel is proof enough of that. If you want to end a war, you surrender. When you want to win a war, you don’t respond proportionately. You respond by killing the enemy and breaking his will to fight. Rumsfeld’s directness and common sense are a breath of fresh air. Read the rest of the interview here; I may have exaggerated a bit when with the post title “hilarity ensues” but it’s still an enjoyable interview.