Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Grave responsibility before God, conscience and history

SecDef Rumsfeld on Meet the Press March 23, 2002. I'll always remember this exchange. The transcript doesn't convey Rumsfeld's sadness with today's isolationists and Russert's befuddlement over responsiblity for grave decisions.

Fran's comment below about putting American First popped it into my head again,
Russert: There are many in the world asking for more time for negotiations, for diplomacy -- the Vatican -- the pope issued this statement: "Whoever decides that all peaceful means available under international law are exhausted assumes a grave responsibility before God, his own conscience and history."

Rumsfeld: It's true.

Russert: And you accept that?

Rumsfeld: Indeed. It is a fair statement. War is the last choice. President Bush has said that repeatedly, and he has made every effort humanly possible to avoid it.

Russert: Yesterday in New York City and across --

Rumsfeld: Indeed, he gave a final ultimatum to avoid war: leave in 48 hours -- after exhausting every other step. He is -- I am sure very people could disagree with what the pope said.

Russert: Yesterday in New York City, some 200,000 Americans took to the street and protested -- there's video -- across the world. What would you say to those protestors?

Rumsfeld: Well, I -- this is a free country -- people can have their own views, and they always have. In every war, there have been protestors. The American Firsters filled Madison Square Garden repeatedly with thousands of people before World War II while Europe was in flames, while millions of Jews were being killed, and the chant was, "Don't get involved in a war in Europe." It's a natural human reaction for people to want to avoid war.

1 comment:

AcademicElephant said...

I remember that exchange so clearly--it is a never ending source of amazement to me that it is so easy for Russert and his ilk to assume that the administration takes decisions like going to war or on surveillance issues cavalierly.