Monday, April 14
Rumsfeld cracks jokes, but Iraqis aren't laughing
Lawrence Smallman, April 2003

At a Pentagon briefing, the US defence secretary faced questions about the rapidly deteriorating security situation, amid calls by aid agencies to allow them to do their job.

“Stuff happens,” came the Rumsfeld reply.

"It's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," his adroit fingers this time pointing at no particular member of the press. Lawlessness, closed hospitals and fires burning in Baghdad and other cities are a freed people venting their frustrations, apparently.

f ever an Oscar was deserved for minimizing catastrophic reports coming out of Iraq with jocular "henny penny" disbelief, then Rumsfeld has a date with Hollywood.

“Television is merely running the same footage of the same man stealing a vase over and over,” he joked, adding he didn't think there were that many vases in Iraq. The US may be the strongest nation in the world, but their history is incomparable to that of Iraq – a region that has been described as the cradle of civilization.

Flippant remarks cannot replace priceless artefacts that have disappeared from the National Museum in Baghdad, or the books of the University of Mosul – one of the oldest and best universities in the whole of the Middle East. [...]
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