RUMMY WRITES. ...

RUMMY WRITES. It's only a matter of time before the blogosphere explodes in opprobrium to Donald Rumsfeld's insipid Los Angeles Times op-ed defending his indefensible remarks from a few days back. The column has it all: Insinuations of treason, wild distortions of opposing viewpoints, total non sequiturs, an inability to squarely confront reality, and bizarre invocations of past World Wars. But one bit of the column seems to resonate more strongly with Rummy than the rest, and it's worth examining for a moment:

� Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America � not the enemy � is the real source of the world's troubles?

He calls this question "particularly important," rather than particularly irrelevant, or particularly made-up, because we're in a "war that, to a great extent, will be fought in the media on a global stage. We cannot allow the terrorists' lies and myths to be repeated without question or challenge."

First, it's unclear what the world's troubles really are. AIDS seems to be a problem, as do tsunamis. The greed and avarice infecting human nature causes friction, as do climatological disturbances and insufficient natural resources. And love -- love's a real bitch. Yet what would life be without it?

But so far as I know, America is rarely, if ever, blamed for such troubles. What America is blamed for is the war in Iraq. And if you are an Iraqi, and that war is your trouble, then America is most certainly to blame for your misery. We can argue back and forth as to whether the median Mesopotamian's lot will be improved by this excursion, but there's no dispute as to America's total control over the start and perpetuation of the conflict. And zooming out to the greater Middle East, no one blames America for the injustices and inequities plaguing their existence. They blame the Jews. So let's dispense with this strawman that America is judged the prime instigator of unhappiness in the world; even were it true, the answer wouldn't be to launch a poorly planned, widely loathed invasion.

As for the homefront, I rarely hear complaints about America's role in causing problems. I hear sadness over America's shortage in solutions: our lack of leadership on global warming, insufficient commitment to AIDS in Africa, unwillingness to donate the cash it would cost to feed the world, apparent lack of interest in foreign aid, and all the rest. The disgust isn't with our trouble-making, which is generally seen as a temporary phenomenon. What is reprehensible is our disinterest in problem-solving, our ill-conceived preference for winning friends through force rather than gratitude. If Rumsfeld truly fears that America is being blamed for all the world's ills, he could push to reorient our foreign policy towards alleviating global misery and horror, plenty of which could be eased for a fraction of the war's cost. He does not. And for that, he, and we, should be blamed.

--Ezra Klein

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