<pseudo-Roseann Rosannadanna mode> Oh, I see, Rumsfeld didn't actually say that. It was just a joke. Never mind. </pseudo-Roseann Rosannadanna mode>
This thing exploded so fast I thought maybe he had said it... (The NY Post cover is real, not photoshopped.)
He said this instead:
CNN.com - Rumsfeld: France, Germany are 'problems' in Iraqi conflict - Jan. 23, 2003
"Germany has been a problem, and France has been a problem," said Rumsfeld, a former NATO ambassador. "But you look at vast numbers of other countries in Europe. They're not with France and Germany on this, they're with the United States."
Germany and France represent "old Europe," and NATO's expansion in recent years means "the center of gravity is shifting to the east," Rumsfeld said.
Hm. Well, maybe he did say it.
Now, there could have been a thoughtful, reasonable response to this. There wasn't:
ABCNEWS.com : 'Old Europe' Jibe Prompts German, French Media Ire
"Mister Rumsfeld, hundreds of thousands of your G.I.'s fell for 'old Europe' because they freed us from the tyranny of Hitler. You are sinning against your own heroes by disparaging 'old Europe'. Your G.I.'s died for the ideals of your place of origin," Bild wrote in an editorial.
Now, even I see a problem with this logic, but I'm a notoriously slow blogger. Steven Den Beste -- who is, after all, not the secretary of defense of the world's remaining military superpower, nor the writer of editorials for a foreign-language newspaper, but only a person like me, who reads things and thinks about them -- said this:
You know, if anything that argument would run the other direction. Wouldn't you think? I, myself, have tried not to use the "dammit, they owe us" argument but it's truly strange for them to try to turn it around and use it against us. If thousands of American dead in cemeteries in France and Germany lay any obligation on anyone, wouldn't you think it would be on them and not on us? Of course, these are also the nations who used the invocation of NATO Article V ("An attack on one will be considered an attack on all") to mean that the US had to get permission from Europe before fighting alone ("Since we were all attacked, we all have to agree on how to fight back using the US military that we all collectively control").
I'm thinking I'd like to see a "human shield" approach to the defense of Iraq. Sean Penn had the right idea (a phrase I thought I'd never hear myself say): Go to Baghdad. Talk. Listen. I mean, really listen. See for yourself. Use your presence at the bulls-eye as a deterrent to war. Hold yourself hostage.