Rumsfeld Watch


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is acting up again, and the president’s advisers are scrambling to do damage control. This week, Rumsfeld emphasized the division between “new” and “old” Europe, saying that the latter, which includes France and Germany, might not support the U.S., but so what? Grant Aldonas, the under secretary for international trade, quickly sought to distance Bush from Rummy’s divisive views. “Frankly,” Aldonas told the Washington Times, “that is not the way I look at the world and it certainly is not the way the president looks at the world.” He added: “There is no ‘new’ Europe or ‘old’ Europe; there is just Europe.”

Whatever. Rummy’s take on the world continues apace. Yesterday he was welcoming the freedom of press in Iraq as a sign of real progress, noting that the occupuation plan “called to enable a free press to be established, and today some 170 newspapers are being published.” But last week Fox reported him as backing the occupation’s decision to shut down two popular Arab channels because, as Rumsfeld put it, they were “violently anti-coalition.” To combat this unfortunate situation, the defense secretary promised to set up the occupation’s own satellite TV system. When reporters pressed for more info on the Arab stations that had been closed, Rummy shot back that he had no opinion because he hadn’t seen the details.

The occupation authorities shut down the Arab stations after they were suspected of distributing a videotape of a man firing a surface-to-air missile at a DHL cargo plane. The tape appears to demonstrate a guerrilla operation. Rumsfeld said he had been told of the tape, but didn’t know enough to say anything more than this: “It doesn’t take a genius to fire off a shoulder-fired missile at an airplane.”

On another subject, Rummy aimlessly ruminated last week on possible reunification of the democratic South Korea and communist North Korea. “If and when it happens, I suppose one could look at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the situation in East and West Germany,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. “It is complicated. The two halves are so different in nature that it is not an easy thing to bring them together. But I think it can happen and I hope and pray it does happen one day.”

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