Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bush meets Godwin

President Bush made another speech on Iraq and the "war" on terror yesterday. The occassion was the 60th anniversary of VJ day. CBS News summarizes the thrust of the speech with Bush: Terror War Akin to WWII. The full text is available from the Whitehouse website. He said:
As we mark this anniversary, we are again a nation at war. Once again, war came to our shores with a surprise attack that killed thousands in cold blood. Once again, we face determined enemies who follow a ruthless ideology that despises everything America stands for. Once again, America and our allies are waging a global campaign with forces deployed on virtually every continent. And once again, we will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure.
Godwins Law, I win. OK, Godwins is actually about Hitler but I think the point is still valid. World War Two was a brutal and violent war between two large groups of heavily militarised nations. The UK faced the serious possibiliy of a full scale military invasion. The US faced the possibility that it would become the only large democratic nation left in the world. Million died. The comparison Bush makes insults the memory of every person who fought and died to defend the free world against the mighty military power of the Japanese and the Nazis. It appears from his statement that Bush has little or no understanding of WWII. Except that he does (or at least his speechwriters do). A little further on in the speech he says:
The men and women who served in World War II belonged to a generation that kept its faith even when liberty's ultimate triumph was far from clear... More than half a dozen nations had large[r] armies than we did. In Asia and Europe, country after country had fallen before the disciplined armies of the militaristic regimes. These events led many to conclude that freedom had seen its day, and that the future belonged to the hard men in Berlin and Tokyo.
So, he does, at least in theory, understand that WWII was nothing like the "war" on terror. How many nations now have armies larger than the US? Answer: none. How many countries have fallen before the disciplined armies of the terrorists? Answer: none.* How many people now conclude that the future belongs to the hard men of Al Qaida? Answer: none.

Actually, that last answer isn't quite true, some people do seem to think this. I've got no idea why** as I've still to hear a single convincing argument to support the view that the extremists could "win" in this way. Also, the extremists themselves probably believe it, but that's neither here nor there really.

Anyway, the point is that Bush makes a claim which is, at best, willfully ignorant of history. At worst, and seemingly supported by his own admission that WWII was far more dangerous than the "war" on terror, it's deliberately manipulative US government propaganda. Either way, it's hardly what you'd call decent behaviour.

* OK, at a push you could argue Afghanistan.
** Not quite true either. Government propaganda can be a powerful force.

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