Rumsfeld: U.S. fighting 'new type of fascism'
WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Tuesday that "moral and intellectual confusion" over the Iraq war and the broader war on terrorism could sap American willpower and divide the country, and he urged renewed resolve to confront extremists waging "a new type of fascism."
Drawing parallels to efforts by some nations to appease Adolf Hitler before World War II, Rumsfeld said it would be "folly" for the United States to ignore rising dangers posed by a new enemy that he called "serious, lethal and relentless."
In a pointed attack on the news media and critics of President Bush's war and national security policies, Rumsfeld declared: "Any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere."
Rumsfeld spoke at the American Legion's national convention in Salt Lake City as part of a coordinated defense of Bush leading up to the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Reviving images of the president's response to the strike on the World Trade Center in New York, Rumsfeld said, "He remains the same man who stood atop the rubble of Lower Manhattan, with a bullhorn, vowing to fight back."
With polls showing that a majority of Americans believe it was a mistake for the United States to invade Iraq and many Democrats calling for a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops, Rumsfeld called the Iraq war the "epicenter" of the struggle against terrorism. Last week, Bush said that setting a timetable for troop withdrawal would embolden the enemy and cause chaos in Iraq and throughout the region.
Congressional Democrats angrily responded to Rumsfeld's remarks. "There is no confusion among military experts, bipartisan members of Congress, and the overwhelming majority of the American people about the need to change course in Iraq," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. "The only person confused about how to best protect this country is Don Rumsfeld, which is why he must go."
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