The video of the interview conducted by Al Jazeera's Washington bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara with -- or, more appropriately, against -- Donald Rumsfeld is making its rounds, having quickly gone viral amongst the political junkies amongst us.
It's hard not to watch the aggressive approach taken by Foukara, or the contrived smile he flashes, without realizing that a viral video was his goal.
It's understandable for a reporter to ask questions that require hindsight. "What would you have done differently?" is, in fact, an interesting question to ask a former Secretary of Defense who oversaw two wars during his tenure. However, this is not Foukara's angle. Instead, he goes out of his way to differentiate between "Americans" and "the Bush administration," as if George W. Bush was not the elected leader of the United States. He submits assertions to Rumsfeld, instead of interrogatories. "You did not secure the border of Iraq" he forcefully exclaims. "Give me a straight answer," he rudely demands (without giving Rumsfeld the opportunity to do so).
Nevertheless, Rumsfeld marshals on, and gives his behind-the-scenes perspective on Bush's meetings regarding troop levels. This is not enough for Foukara. "Does that make the numbers you went into Iraq with right?" he shouts over Rumsfeld? He then states his easily identifiable anti-American position when he asks if Rumsfeld feels his troop levels "absolve" him from the responsibility for "thousands of innocent Iraqis killed by coalition forces."
Memo to Foukara:
1. You're not a military strategist. You don't know what the correct troop levels should have been, even as you sit there today.
2. Coalition forces fought to liberate Iraq, not kill innocent civilians. War is ugly, and innocents do pay heavy prices. But that doesn't make Secretaries of Defense killers in the sense that you are trying to insinuate.
3. So don't harangue the interviewee. Stick to asking questions.
4. Condescending laughter isn't a good way to draw out answers.
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