I took this from the New York Post...EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is adapted from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's speech yesterday at the American Legion National Convention.
THE American Legion has achieved a great deal for our country since its founding in the months following World War I.
That year, 1919 turned out to be one of those pivotal junctures in modern history - the beginning of a period where, over time, a very different set of views would come to dominate discourse and thinking in the West. A sentiment took root that contended that, if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be appeased, then the carnage and destruction of World War I might be avoided.
It was, as Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.
There was a strange innocence. Someone recently recalled one U.S. senator's reaction in September 1939, upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II: "Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided." Think of that.
Once again we face the same kind of challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism.
Today, another enemy - a different kind of enemy - has also made clear its intentions - in places like New York, Bali, London and Madrid. But many have still not learned history's lessons.
We need to face the following questions:
* With the growing lethality and availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased?
* Can we really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?
* Can we truly afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply "law enforcement" problems, rather than fundamentally different threats, requiring fundamentally different approaches?
* And can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America - not the enemy - is the real source of the world's trouble?
We hear every day of new plans, new efforts, to murder Americans and other free people. Indeed, the plot recently discovered that would have killed hundreds - possibly thousands - of innocents on planes from Britain to the United States should have demonstrated to all that the enemy is serious, lethal and relentless.
But we find ourselves in a strange time:
* When a database search of America's leading newspapers turns up 10 times as many mentions of one soldier at Abu Ghraib who was punished for misconduct than mentions of Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in the War on Terror.
* When a Newsweek senior editor disparagingly refers to the brave volunteers in our Armed Forces as a "mercenary army."
* When the former head of CNN accuses the American military of deliberately targeting journalists and the former CNN Baghdad bureau chief admits he concealed reports of Saddam Hussein's crimes when he was in power so CNN could stay in Iraq.
* And when Amnesty International disgracefully refers to the military facility at Guantanamo Bay - which holds terrorists who have vowed to kill Americans, and is arguably the best run and most scrutinized detention facility in the history of warfare - as "the gulag of our times."
Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of myths and lies and distortions being told about our troops and our country. This watchdog role is even more important today in a war that is to a great extent fought in the global media - to not allow the lies and the myths be repeated without question or challenge, so that at least the second and third draft of history will be more accurate than the quick first allegations.
In this "long war," 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.
Our enemy knows this well. They frequently invoke the names of Beirut and Somalia - places they see as examples of American retreat and weakness. And as we have seen most recently in Lebanon, they design attacks and manipulate the media to try to demoralize public opinion. They doctor photographs of casualties, use civilians as human shields and then provoke an outcry when civilians are accidentally killed in their midst.
The good news is that most of the American people, though understandably influenced by what they read and see in the media, have inner gyroscopes and good centers of gravity.
And I am confident that over time they will evaluate what is happening and come to wise conclusions.
One soldier, who recently volunteered for a second tour in Iraq, likely captured the feelings of many of his peers. In an e-mail to friends, he wrote:
"I ask that you never take advantage of the liberties guaranteed by the shedding of free blood, never take for granted the freedoms granted by our Constitution. For those liberties would be merely ink on paper were it not for the sacrifice of generations of Americans who heard the call of duty and responded heart, mind and soul with 'Yes, I will.' "
I believe the question is not whether we can win. It is whether we have the will to persevere. I believe that Americans do have that steel. And that we have learned the lessons of history, the folly of turning a blind eye to danger, and of ignoring our responsibilities.
I'm having my doubts about the intestitinal fortitude of the American public.