Rumsfeld Warns Against Appeasement
Wednesday, August 30, 2006; 7:40 AM
SALT LAKE CITY -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday the world faces "a new type of fascism" and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement.
Rumsfeld alluded to critics of the Bush administration's war policies in terms associated with the failure to stop Nazism in the 1930s, "a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the Western democracies."
Without explicitly citing Bush critics at home or abroad, he said "it is apparent that many have still not learned history's lessons." Aides to Rumsfeld said later he was not accusing the administration's critics of trying to appease the terrorists but was cautioning against a repeat of errors made in earlier eras.
Speaking to several thousand veterans at the American Legion's national convention, Rumsfeld said that as fascism and Nazism took hold in Europe, those who warned of a coming crisis were ridiculed or ignored. He quoted Winston Churchill as observing that trying to accommodate Hitler was "a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last."
"I recount this history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," he said.
"Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?" he asked.
"Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America _ not the enemy _ is the real source of the world's troubles?"
Rumsfeld spoke to the American Legion as part of a coordinated White House strategy, before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to take the offensive against administration critics at a time of doubt about the future of Iraq and growing calls to withdraw U.S. troops.
Addressing the same audience later Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration is countering extremism with hope and democracy, and that history will bear out that strategy.
"If we quit before the job is done, the cost of failure will be severe, indeed immeasurable," Rice said.
"If we abandon the Iraqi people before their government is strong enough to secure the country, we will show reformers across the region that America cannot be trusted to keep its word," she added.
Bush was scheduled to speak here later in the week.