Politics of fear

Not just Rumsfeld's strategy
At a dark moment in American history, Franklin Roosevelt said to the American people: “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Compare these words from Roosevelt’s 1933 inaugural speech, spoken when the nation was in the midst of a frightening economic depression, to comments from Donald Rumsfeld, who as secretary of defense in 2006 instructed his staff on how to respond to a demand for his resignation: “Talk about Somalia, the Philippines, etc. Make the American people realize they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists.”

Roosevelt inspired a nation to embrace the future with hope; Rumsfeld promoted a strategy of fear. The details of this memo, one of many Rumsfeld missives to his staff that were obtained by the Washington Post, were reported by staff writer Robin Wright (November 1).


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