Toomas (Tom) Karmo: literary: Open Letter to Mr Rumsfeld
Open Letter 
to American Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 
(_material for legal, police-cleared street protest,  
  composed by 
  Dr Tom Karmo,
  __initially, in a draft version,
    for handing to the United States Consulate staff  
    in Toronto and to passers-by 
    during his 2002-08-13 12:50/13:15 EDT 
    singing of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?") 
  __published in the Toronto Estonian-English weekly
    "Eesti elu" 2002-09-11) 

Dear Mr Rumsfeld: 

Your Department is proposing to invade Iraq, inflicting casualties on
Iraqi troops and civilians which will unavoidably dwarf even the
recent carnage at the World Trade Center and in Afghanistan.

Driving your Department's proposal is the calculation (contrary to the
international-law doctrine of self defence) that if the USA does not
invade Iraq now, American lives are liable to be lost eventually from
Iraqi-sponsored terrorism.

The Department of Defense calculates, in terms worthy of Napoleon
Bonaparte, that American and Iraqi lives are of unequal value. It
conceives its responsibility to be first and foremost the safety of
the American people - the safety of others being, at best, a secondary
consideration, at best a balancing or qualifying factor. Rational
though this view may have seemed to the dismal French Consul, or to
Clausewitz or Bismarck, it was never a morally tenable view. Neither
was it a view congenial to the best of the eighteenth- and
nineteenth-century American governments, who correctly saw themselves
as breaking with morally empty traditions in political thought.

Powerful minds in American public life are exposing your
Department's underlying weakness.  Notably, for Republican
congressional leader Mr Dick Armey, the idea of invading Iraq counters
the ideals of the Founding Fathers. For the Founding Fathers, Mr Armey
and I would argue, it was not Americans alone, but all persons, even
persons like those in Iraq, who were created equal by God.
[Note added 20021020T005105Z: Mr Armey in fact moved to a more pro-war
position later in the summer or autumn of 2002.] 

Is America to be kept alive at any cost? Are we to prefer a
pre-emptive strike against Iraq to bearing the eventual full, severe
risk of living by American principles? Does the clamour for security
now trump the need for self-respect? If now a betrayal of America's
core ideals is useful, what further betrayals may we, or the next
generation, expect? What is your Department, ostensibly a Department
of Defense, in reality defending? The material fabric, perhaps,
of the American lifestyle, in your willingness to make principles
negotiable? Does the State Department expect other
countries, among them my own Canada and Estonia, to be collaborators
in such a project?

Mr Rumsfeld, my family have felt the totalitarian lash. Numbers of my
relatives were herded into cattle cars for Siberia in 1941, by the
semiliterate Stalin, the self-styled "man of steel" who considered
Estonian lives expendable for the greater good of the Soviet Communist
Party. (That "man of steel" was himself the pupil of V.I. Lenin, who
notoriously taught that to make omelettes, eggs must be broken.)  We
judged the USA, who kept Estonia's flag in its State Department lobby
through the decades of the Cold War, to be our ally and defender. The
freedom we, and indeed all the peoples between the Elbe and
Vladivostok, secured in 1991 was the outcome of patient endurance. The
freedom did not come from cruise missiles, but from our willingness to
sit still, to think, to write, to discuss, to wait for decades, to
live with risks and fears, to hope.  It was as a participant in that
nonviolent historical movement that I just stood outside your Toronto
consulate, singing an antiwar song, distributing a draft of this
letter - aiming a political protest such as I once reserved for the
Soviet Union against (improbably, absurdly, incredibly) the United

Show us now, Mr Rumsfeld, that you are worthy of the ideals of
America's Founding Fathers.