Thinker and Poet, retired – politics lost its greatest philosophic aphorist in 2006

Hell, I had wished to write this article some weeks earlier when Donald H. Rumsfeld actually resigned for the 2nd time as Secretary of Defense. Certainly not because I’m part of the Neocon agenda. Neither I am inclined to argue again about his tea time with Saddam Hussein, Guantanomo or his application of the Wolfowitz architecture of foreign policy (or preemptive war) after the horrifying 9/11 attacks. But people forget that Rumsfeld was THE Poet Laureate of politics (Süddeutsche Zeitung 10th of Nov) and he should be indisputable in this role. As a supporter of a somewhat goofy president he is the greatest political Aphorist of our time. Equipped with sarcasm and an iron will, the best”Rumsfeldisms” out of his rich ouevre should not be forgotten: “Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.”; “I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started.” and my favorite: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” To his credit you cannot be dumb to say this – and to have black humor as well.
Strange, that warlords often are good aphorists, just think of the greatest of them all: Marcus Aurelius. Will we also forget about the reasons for war when we read the Rumsfeldisms in centuries from now as we do with Aurelius, who certainly also scared away from being called “Mr. Passive Resistence“? Rumsfeld was great in creating reasons for battle, already back in ’76 he sexed up the threats of Weapons of mass destruction in 1976 – good old Rumy never changed his methods. How nice he quoted Churchill during his valedictory: “I have benefited greatly from criticism and at no point in time I have suffered a lack there of.” Consequently he deserved his bashing for the stupid and smart alec speech of a”complex, unfamiliar, difficult to comprehend war”(great helmet John, but not as good as Colberts job). I do not want to leave a bitter taste, let’s therefore better finish with an aphorism from Marcus Aurelius: „Es kommt nicht darauf an, über die notwendigen Eigenschaften eines guten Mannes dich zu besprechen – vielmehr ein solcher zu sein.“ (X, 16). No Rumsfeld reloaded this time.

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