- - Thursday, June 23, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Rumsfeld, the former secretary of Defense, has given the Republicans a fighting slogan to appeal to voters who can’t quite cotton to Donald Trump but who sure can’t vote for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Rumsfeld says he’s voting for the Donald because he’s more comfortable with a “known unknown” than with a “known known.”

Better to take a chance on the candidate who might not be as bad as some folks think than to take the candidate who everyone knows is as bad as everyone thinks. That’s not usually the way to talk about a lady, but this is not your usual lady. Mr. Rumsfeld attributes his cleverly expressed insight to his wife, Joyce.

Mr. Rumsfeld, who has served in high positions in several Republican administrations, says he agrees with Mr. Trump about the threat of “a Trojan horse infiltration” of terrorists organized among Syrian refugees being settled, whether by lack of wit or by good intentions gone awry, across the 50 states, often by stealth, by President Obama.

“He’s absolutely right,” he told an interviewer for the McClatchy newspapers. “Anyone who thinks the radical Islamists are not going to try to utilize every venue they can find to infiltrate into the United States and in Western European countries — these people just don’t get it.”

Mr. Rumsfeld says many Americans who say they’re upset by the strong Trump language aren’t paying close enough attention to what he’s saying. “How is what I’ve said different from what he has said? The way he said it got him the Republican nomination for president. The way I said it makes people’s eyes glaze over. The only real difference is [that] one is striking a nerve.”

Reflecting the kinder, gentler approach of the man who appointed him to his cabinet, Mr. Rumsfeld says the United States has “an enormous obligation to help fleeing Syrians.” The United Nations is unable to help because it is incompetent, inept and unhelpful, a characterization that is hardly original with Mr. Rumsfeld, who might have added “corrupt.”

“This refugee problem is the most heartbreaking thing in the world,” he says. “But instead of politicizing the issue and moving the refugees, the United States should be mobilizing regional powers to give them somewhere to flee to. “We’ve got an obligation to provide safe zones for them. We’ve got to be pro-active.”

Views laid out by Mr. Trump, whom he has never met, and his own views on immigration, he says, arrive at the same end but from different starting points. Most immigrants, he says, “don’t want to impose a different system on us,” but every country “ought to be able to maintain [its] own values” in the face of immigrants [who] don’t want to assimilate.”

He further agrees that the Donald was right in saying that NATO needs serious work. Mr. Rumsfeld, who was once the U.S. ambassador to NATO headquarters, says the overhaul of NATO’s internal compass prescribed by Mr. Trump is “not far from what I wrote to President [George W.] Bush 13 or 14 years ago.” Reporters and pundits “have played very fast and loose” with the Trump message. “What he actually said was different from the characterizations that followed.” That much, every editor ought to have known.

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