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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
old man, take a look at your life:
Remember Donald Rumsfeld? He seems like a bad dream. And yet here he is, popping up in Washington to talk about how the U.S. needs a Ministry of Propaganda. Here's what he told Sharon Weinberger of Wired's Danger Room:
We need someone in the United States government, some entity, not like the old USIA . . . I think this agency, a new agency has to be something that would take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that exist today. There are multiple channels for information . . . The Internet is there, pods are there, talk radio is there, e-mails are there. There are all kinds of opportunities. We do not with any systematic organized way attempt to engage the battle of ideas and talk about the idea of beheading, and what's it's about and what it means. And talk about the fact that people are killing more Muslims than they are non-Muslims, these extremists. They're doing it with suicide bombs and the like. We need to engage and not simply be passive and allow that battle of competition of ideas.
Uh, yeah. First, let's just note that Rumsfeld has always preferred the idea of technology to actually, you know, learning about technology. "Pods are there"? Does he mean iPods? Podcasts? And to mention "talk radio" in the same breath as e-mail or these mysterious pods -- what in the world is this septuagenarian talking about? Rumsfeld probably just learned how to program his VCR.
Second, when Rumsfeld tried a version of this in miniature in Iraq, his actual fix was comically stupid. The Pentagon hired the Lincoln Group to pull off a propaganda campaign designed at discrediting the insurgency. It amounted to planting fake news stories in the Iraqi press written by soldiers that said things like the insurgents "crawled on their bellies like dogs in the mud." For this, the Pentagon spent more than $25 million and arguably broke the law.
Finally, Rumsfeld managed to be the first secretary of defense in history not just to botch two wars, but to botch two wars simultaneously. For that, no one should ever listen to this man ever again. Whatever he says is discredited by the sheer fact that he's the one saying it. He should be legally obligated to end of all his sentences with, "...but, on the other hand, I'm a total jackass."
Let's not forget that Rummy is still a hero to the neo-cons. The Claremont Institute gave him it's Churchill award last November.