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Rumsfeld Editorial in the NY Times
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Donald Rumsfeld has an editorial in today's New York Times.

Probably won't have any effect on those that think Iraq is a war predicated on lies, a waste of life, money, and energy. But I thought I'd quote it anyway:

In Seoul, I was interviewed by a Korean journalist who was almost certainly too young to have firsthand recollection of the Korean War. She asked me, "Why should Koreans send their young people halfway around the globe to be killed or wounded in Iraq?"

As it happened, I had that day visited a Korean War memorial, which bears the names of every American soldier killed in the war. On it was the name of a close friend of mine from high school, a wrestling teammate, who was killed on the last day of the war. I said to the reporter: "It's a fair question. And it would have been fair for an American to ask, 50 years ago, `Why should young Americans go halfway around the world to be killed or wounded in Korea?' "

We were speaking on an upper floor of a large hotel in Seoul. I asked the woman to look out the window at the lights, the cars, the energy of the vibrant economy of South Korea. I told her about a satellite photo of the Korean peninsula, taken at night, that I keep on a table in my Pentagon office. North of the demilitarized zone there is nothing but darkness except a pinprick of light around Pyongyang while the entire country of South Korea is ablaze in light, the light of freedom.

Korean freedom was won at a terrible cost tens of thousands of lives, including more than 33,000 Americans killed in action. Was it worth it? You bet. Just as it was worth it in Germany and France and Italy and in the Pacific in World War II. And just as it is worth it in Afghanistan and Iraq today.

Of course, the newly-elected Spanish government apparently doesn't think it's worth putting Spanish soldiers' lives at risk to help stablize and rebuild Iraq. And today South Korea decided to scale back its contribution, though it is still one of largest contributing allies to Iraq:

South Korea on Friday scrubbed plans to send troops to the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, citing U.S. pressure to participate in "offensive operations," but it said the promised 3,600 forces will be sent to a different location to help rebuild the country.

The South Korean journalist's question reveals quite a lot. We've got freedom, it says, earned from your blood and sacrifice. Why should we sacrifice or put ourselves in harm's way to help anyone else gain the same freedom?

Jill sometimes points out to me the underquoted follow-up statement of John F. Kennedy's famous line from his inaugural speech.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

So do we have a vested interest in actively promoting freedom, by deposing the worst dictators sometimes when we have to, or should we follow policies of bargain and containment with despots into the 21st century?

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