The lexicographic oddness of his statement notwithstanding, I suspect that most of us have some sense for what Rumsfeld was trying to say (although even one White House aide, when asked to explain the remarks, responded, “We think we know what he is saying — but we’re not sure.”). One reasonable parsing of the statement might go something like this: “The world is a dangerous place. Moreover, it may be dangerous in different and
more deadly ways than you imagine.” In short, there may be more threats in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy — or reported by the New York Times. When in doubt, Rumsfeld implies, it’s better to be safe than sorry.