Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bush: War on Terror is like War for World War II!

From the BBC:
President Bush has strongly defended the US-led war on terror, casting it as a struggle between freedom and tyranny similar to World War II.
The war on terror, he said, resembles "the great clashes of the last century" between democracy and totalitarianism.
"Like the murderous ideologies of the last century, the ideology of murderers reaches across borders," President Bush added.

The "enemies of freedom", he went on, mistakenly assumed that the US was "decadent" and would collapse.
The murderous ideologies of the last century who spied on their own citizens, took aggressive, preemptive action against non-aggressive powers, and won elections through demagoguery?

If freedom has an enemy in high places, it's the President of the United States.
"In those calls we hear echoes of other enemies in other times, the same swagger," he said.
Ha! Swagger! Who does that remind you of?
"We will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy," he said.

He told the new officers that the US would continue to strike terror groups around the world.

"The best way to protect America is to stay on the offensive."
Spoken like a good German circa 1939.

In all seriousness, statements like these belie the mentality of the Bush regime in a rather funny way. Much like Benito Mussolini in the 1930s, the modern neo-cons missed out on something they probably really would have sincerely enjoyed. Mussolini came about too late, in the 1920s, to enjoy the colonial adventure and grandiose political posturing that the late 19th/early 20th century Empire Club got to enjoy. Bismarck, Disraeli, and even a young Winston Churchill all had their day as leaders or at least patriots at the political and social forefront of some of the world's great powers (Winston Churchill of course became a remarkable leader in his own right during World War II, decades later).

The modern Bush Administration doesn't really have a "great enemy of freedom" to even do battle with. Fascists were defeated by Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill, while authoritarian socialism died out by virtue of the idiocy of authoritarian socialism. (Naturally, some like to credit the Pope or Reagan for the defeat of "communism," but I personally credit nobody.) What remains of authoritarianism in the world tends to be the odd political anomoly, along the lines of Kim in North Korea or an aging, toothless Fidel Castro. More politically astute authoritarians even recognize that it's politically easier to make nice with the west and trade than to instigate the great military powers into imposing sanctions. This is why Libya decided to stop being a "rogue state" and started being an oil whore state.

Nonetheless, the militant wing of the Republican Party needs to be fueled by a boogeyman, and vaguely-styled "terrorists" have to be it now. Fascinatingly enough, the Bush types of the world can't really comprehend modern terrorism for what it is: stateless, splintered groups of disenfranchised, largely under-sexed young males who are seduced by the promise of martyrdom. There are many of these types of people in the world, and some of them are right here in the United States (remember Timothy McVeigh?).

Terrorism is not an ideology or a philosophy or even a movement. It's simply a tactic, one that even a state can use. Iraq, in turn, was easy to attack because it's everything a terrorist organization isn't: a fixed political entity guilty of incredible acts of mass murder. Stateless terrorists attack individuals and small groups of people to frighten the political status quo. It takes a government to commit acts of war. When a small group of thugs instigate violence, it's more in line with gangsterism (whether the goal is bootlegging liquor and drugs, or spreading a perverted interpretation of the teachings of Mohammed).

When Saddam Hussein fell from power, even leftist groups around the world breathed a sigh of relief. A thug had fallen, but it left a power vacuum. It's important to understand that Iraq isn't a country in the way that the United States or Germany or France or Great Britain is a country. These states, carved by centuries of warfare and mutual recognition, exist because of their histories and because they defeated the greater powers that would otherwise occupy them. It may have been a zero-zum game at best, but it created the West as we know it today. Iraq exists because the victorious powers of World War I decided to carve up one of the losers in a way that was apparently politically expedient at the time. When he consolidated his power in an unstable Iraq, Saddam in a sense became the glue that held Iraq together. Sadly, he also represented the most progressive leadership the Middle East will be likely see in our lifetimes. Women didn't need to wear veils and Christians and Mandeans could openly practice their faith.

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