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Donald Rumsfeld is giving advice, again

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answers questions at a town hall meeting at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia in this file photo takaen September 22, 2006. To match Special Report USA-PENTAGON/WASTE REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS BUSINESS) (REUTERS)

“The absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence; nor is it evidence of presence.”

That pearl was one of “Rumsfeld’s Rules,” a collection of sayings and insights compiled over decades by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The cerebral and controversial polymath—who was a CEO, board member, Congressman, ambassador and Cabinet secretary during his long career—shared his list informally with presidents, politicians, business colleagues and journalists, and formally published a book of rules in 2013.

Rumsfeld, 83, is sharing his wisdom with the public once again, this time in a more modern, digital format. Rumsfeld has collaborated with an app developer to offer a mobile game he calls “Churchill Solitaire,” named after Winston Churchill, the World War II-era British prime minister, whom Rumsfeld greatly admires.

The prime minister’s version of the game involves two decks of cards rather than one, and some additional complexities that give the game Churchillian depth. Rumsfeld describes it as “an incredibly devilish version of solitaire,” though it’s similar enough to regular solitaire that novices will pick up the concept quickly. It’s free for both Apple and Android devices, with in-app purchases ranging from $0.99 to $4.99.

Rumsfeld, with his penchant for pithy encapsulation, quotes the British Cold War diplomat André de Staercke—who learned the game from Churchill and taught it to Rumsfeld--on the virtues of two-deck solitaire: “What one needs in life are the pessimism of intelligence and the optimism of will.“

“Play a couple hands of Churchill Solitaire,” Rumsfeld explains, “and you’ll know precisely what he meant.”

To encourage players who might feel frustrated by the game’s difficulty, the app offers inspirational quotes from Churchill every time you hit a dead end and give up.

We’ve included five Churchill quotes from the game below, paired with five Rumsfeld aphorisms. See if you can guess who said what:

1. “Weakness is provocative. Time and again it has invited adventures that strength might well have deterred.”

2. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”


3. “It is possible to proceed perfectly logically from an inaccurate premise to an inaccurate and unfortunate conclusion.”

4. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”


5. “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

6. “First reports are often wrong.”


7. “The world is won by those who show up.”

8. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”


9. “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

10. “Leadership is by consent, not command. A leader must persuade.”


And finally, two gimmes:

11. "There are known knowns: the things you know you know. There are known unknowns: the things you know you don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns: the things you don't know you don't know."

12. “History will be kind to me, because I will write it.”


1: DR

2. WC

3. DR

4. WC

5. WC

6. DR

7. DR

8. WC

9. WC

10. DR

11: DR

12. WC

Rick Newman’s latest book is Liberty for All: A Manifesto for Reclaiming Financial and Political Freedom. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman .