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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Donald Rumsfeld

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Donald Rumsfeld

Last Build Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 04:53:07 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Facing the Central Questions of Our Time

Wed, 30 Aug 2006 04:53:07 -0600

We are truly fortunate to have a leader of resolve at a time of war. Through all the challenges, he remains the same man who stood atop the rubble of lower Manhattan, with a bullhorn, vowing to fight back; the leader who told a grieving nation that we will never forget what was lost; and the determined President who works every day to fulfill his vow to bring the enemy to justice or to bring justice to the enemy. Our nation is so fortunate to have the American Legion standing up for all those who are serving our country in this time of testing. About a year ago, I participated in the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. And when I looked out into the audience, I could see a great many American Legion caps. It was a reminder of the millions who sacrificed for our country, so many of whom did not come home. And it was also a reminder of all that American Legionnaires do to for our servicemen and women. Indeed, through nearly nine decades of service, the American Legion continues to find new ways and to undertake new initiatives to embody their motto: "For God and Country." The Department of Defense is proud to be a partner with you in the "Heroes to Hometowns" program, which is helping severely wounded veterans with job searches, their homes, and other activities to aid the transition to civilian life. Your partnership with the "The America Supports You" campaign helps communities, organizations, and individuals across this nation express their appreciation to our troops, and to their families. And, on a personal note, I commend the American Legion for its sponsorship of the Boy Scouts. I know there are some places where Boy Scouts are a subject of scorn. Well, I was a proud Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout; then an Explorer Scout; an Eagle Scout; and, in 1975, a Distinguished Eagle Scout. The Scouts represent some of the best qualities in our great country -- and they certainly deserve our support! The American Legion has achieved a great deal for our country since its founding in the months following World War I, when those folks came together in a hotel in Europe to find a way to help some of their fellow veterans who would be coming home soon. Indeed, that year -- 1919 -- turned out to be one of those pivotal junctures in modern history -- with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and the creation of the League of Nations -- a treaty and an organization intended to make future wars unnecessary and obsolete. Indeed, 1919 was the beginning of a period where, over time, a very different set of views would come to dominate discourse and thinking in the west. Over the next decades, a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be appeased, then the carnage and destruction of then-recent memory of World War I might be avoided. It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis -- the rise of fascism and Nazism -- were ridiculed and ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated -- or that it was someone else's problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace -- even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last. There was a strange innocence in views of the world. Someone recently recalled one U.S. Senator's reaction in September 1939, upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II. He exclaimed: "Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided." Think of that! I recount this history because once again we face the same kind of challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. Today, another enemy -- a different kind of enemy -- has also made clear its intentions -- in places like New York, Washington, D.C., Bali, London, Madrid, and Moscow. But it is apparent that man[...]