A Memo from Rummy
September 1, 2006
From: Donald Rumsfeld
Office of the Secretary of Defense
RE: My Job Performance
My word, you’d think the sky was falling and the world was about to collapse with the way that all of you have been complaining recently. All I hear these days is “Rumsfeld is incompetent for this,” and “Fire Rumsfeld for doing that.” My goodness, I’ve never seen people get into such a tizzy over a job! I know that most of you Nazi-loving ex-hippie, ex-flower children haven’t spent much time thinking about the strategies of war, so let me try to highlight our main defense mechanisms in words that even you can understand. That way you’ll all know how complicated the work is over here in Defense and you can all quit your bellyaching.
1. Things Explode
So you’re worried about body armor, are you? Well let me tell you something: When you’re at war, things explode. That’s just the way it is. We put large bombs on airplanes, the airplanes drop the bombs on the ground, and the bombs break open into gigantic fireballs that throw pieces of building and earth everywhere. You think body armor is going to save you from that? Of course people are going to get hurt—don’t you think that some people probably pulled a hangnail when we dropped the bombs over Hiroshima? But let’s remember that Iraqis can pick up and leave Iraq any time they want—nobody’s forcing them to stay in a country filled with militant Islamo-fascists. So if some “innocent” people are killed, they’re not completely innocent if they refuse to leave their godless, warring nation, are they? Remember, the death of inno_cents_ is not the same as the death of innocence. If Iraqis die—hey, dying happens. We had to break some eggs to get rid of the Nazis during World War II, didn’t we?
2. You’re Not Allowed to Know Everything
Secondly, you’re not allowed to know everything—it’s called national security. Let’s not get our panties in a twist over this domestic spying program. Come on, do you really think anyone cares about your pointless conversations about your Nana’s recipe for blueberry pie, or the best way to whittle balsa wood? Get real. And if you are a terrorist, of course we’re listening—we always have been. But we can’t just tap you on the shoulder to make sure you know you’re being monitored all the time. I mean, do you think that we told Hitler we were listening to his conversations with Eichmann? “Oh, excuse me Hitler, I just want to let you know that the American government is listening in on this conversation about wiping out an entire race of people by loading them onto cattle cars and throwing them into death camps.” I don’t think so.
But look, we’re all realists here—if you just can’t get over this whole phone-monitoring thing there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. First of all, I’d just stop talking about the President, or about things you’d like to do to Dick Cheney in general, period. Stop saying words like “U.S. government,” or “bomb,” or “Sometimes I wonder about Islam.” And furthermore, I’d stop mentioning famous landmarks, places where security looks lax, empty warehouses, airplanes, boats, buses, long tunnels, subway stations, bridges you have to cross everyday on your commute to work—you get the picture. If you want to keep talking about that stuff, look, you’re fair game, that’s all I’m saying. You might as well just admit right now that you’ve memorized Mein Kampf and walk around with a little moustache under your nose and your arm permanently raised toward your great fascist forefathers. You’re going to be labeled a “known phone,” as we say over here, no longer a “phone unknown.”
3. Terrorists are Terrible and Diplomats are Diplomatic
Which brings me to my next point. I know that most of you don’t have to worry about this on a daily basis, working at your yoga centers and health food stores, but those of us who work in Defense have to watch out for terrorists, okay? That’s our job. Day in and day out. And it’s not easy—do you want to know why? Terrorists are not sympathetic, they’re not funny, they’re not adorable, they’re terrible. That’s why they’re called terrorists. Terr-i-ble. If they were pacifists, they’d be peaceful—they’d believe in pacifism. If they were herbalists—you all should know this one—they’d believe in herbalism. (And herbalists plant a lot of things, but they don’t plant bombs on airplanes.) But they’re terrorists, so take a wild guess—what do they believe in? That’s right, terrorism.
Now, this seems like as good time as any to address the little tiff over the photo of myself shaking the hand of Saddam Hussein. I know this is going to be shocking to you all, but, what did you expect me to do? Of course I shook his hand—I was a diplomat. And, follow along with me people, what do diplomats do? You got it—they’re diplomatic. But beyond diplomacy, you know what? I don’t have any control over what Saddam Hussein does. Saddam Hussein is going to do what Saddam Hussein is going to do. Doing happens. I mean, we had to fire on the Axis soldiers to invade Normandy, right? Are you saying that we never should have invaded Normandy? Should we just pretend that all of Nazi Germany never happened?
4. Time is Long
And lastly, I want to say that war takes time, and time is long. Goodness me, it’s not like you can just fight a war in the time it takes to make a bag of microwave popcorn. Of course we may have initially underestimated the number of troops we needed by a few thousand, but as I’ve said above, terrorists are terrible, things explode, and doing happens. I don’t expect you to understand all the details since you’re not allowed to know everything, anyway. So let’s just calm down here, folks, we have plenty of people in our military to go around. Around and around. Fighting for the long lengths of time. I really can’t explain any more than that to you people if you can’t get your wheatgrass-drinking heads around it. So let’s just take a deep breath and count to ten before making any more outrageous assertions about my job next time—that way it will be more obvious to everyone who’s who, and what’s what, and just who sanctioned the gas chambers at Auschwitz anyway.
In faithful service,
PS Squash, anyone?
Marika Josephson is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn, and a graduate student in Philosophy at the New School.