Saturday, August 9, 2008

Comparisons of WWII to the Iraq War

Frequently, all-too-frequently, we hear supporters of the Iraq war comparing it to past US military conflicts. However, it is interesting to note that the most comparable wars to the Iraq conflict, Viet Nam and the Korean war, are rarely mentioned. Instead, in a testimony to the shoddy history education we get in this country, a general lack of understanding of the current conflict, and the ease with which one can make shit up (MSU) when there is no one left to correct you who was there, the frequent comparison is to World War II. Typical is a piece called 'You ain't gonna like losing', which is making its way around the email circuit, and had some comments dying for rebuttal:

"President Bush did make a bad mistake in the war on terrorism. But the mistake was not his decision to go to war in Iraq. Bush's mistake came in his belief that this country is the same one his father fought for in WWII. It is not."

No shit Sherlock. A lot has changed in 65 years. We have computers, penicillin, equal rights for nonwhites and nonmales, and microwaves. We've been to the moon. I supposed this is another insight of Bush's comparable to his claim that before 9/11 we thought the oceans would protect us. No George, YOU thought they would protect us. The rest of us were quite aware that our political opponents around the world had mastered flying machines and watercraft. Likewise, the country has changed a lot in the 60+ years since WWII.

"Back then, they had just come out of a vicious depression. The country was steeled by the hardship of that depression, but they still believed fervently in this country. They knew that the people had elected their leaders, so it was the people's duty to back those leaders. Therefore, when the war broke out the people came together, rallied behind, and stuck with their leaders, whether they had voted for them or not or whether the war was going badly or not. You never heard prominent people on the radio belittling the President. The people stuck with the President because it was their patriotic duty. Americans put aside their differences in WWII and worked together to win that war. "

What a bunch of unadulterated bullshit! This sort of pie-in-the-sky revisionist history really burns my balls. Criticism of Franklin Roosevelt during WWII was common. He was called a warmonger by Charles Lindberg, and a fascist by Herbert Hoover. He was accused of prolonging the war through his policy of insisting on unconditional surrender from Germany, having foreknowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and of misusing the Office of Censorship during the war to conceal his deteriorating health and his mistress. Upon his death, columnist H.L. Mencken described Roosevelt as having "had every quality that morons esteem in their heroes."

This idea that political controversy and criticism of our leaders during times of war is something new is ignorant in the extreme. It is yet another case of MSU. Even during the revolutionary war there was great difference of opinion as to whether we should be an independent state. This is as it should be. Active, informed, monitoring and criticism of our leaders is what (supposedly) separates our government from the totalitarian governments we rightly have pride in opposing.

"Teachers in schools actually started the day off with a Pledge of Allegiance, and with prayers for our country and our troops!"

Yes well, back then the Pledge of Allegiance had yet to be sullied with the McArthyesque phrase "under god", which is the cause of most of the resistance to saying it. As for the prayers, the Nazi's too prayed to their gods for victory. Was it a battle of the gods? Were our gods stronger than theirs? Or was it all just wishful thinking? And maybe no one has noticed, but the so-called Islamo-fascists do their fair share of praying too.

"Back then, no newspaper would have dared point out certain weak spots in our cities where bombs could be set off to cause the maximum damage."

Um, back then the enemy lacked the ability to deliver and set off huge bombs in our cities. Remember, the atom bomb was not invented and used until the end of that war. Think people!

"A newspaper would have been laughed out of existence if it had complained that German or Japanese soldiers were being 'tortured' by being forced to wear women's underwear, or subjected to interrogation by a woman, or being scared by a dog or did not have air conditioning."

Perhaps, but getting back to reality for a moment, newspapers did complain about the internment of Japanese Americans simply for being Japanese, just as they complain about prisoners being held without cause, tortured via simulated drowning, and otherwise being treated in ways contrary to the Geneva Convention today. Again, the idea that the news media just discovered how to be critical of our government is Mayberryish nonsense.

"There were a lot of things different back then. We were not subjected to a constant bombardment of pornography, perversion and promiscuity in movies or on radio. We did not have legions of crack heads, dope pushers and armed gangs roaming our streets."

Yeah, back then we kept those niggers in their place. What is the point of this comment anyway? Are we supposed to believe that white collar workers who are critical of the Iraq war would support it if only there were less porn to watch, drugs to use, and fewer gangs on the streets? "Non sequitor" is too elevated a term for this.

" No, President Bush did not make a mistake in his handling of terrorism. He made the mistake of believing that we still had the courage and fortitude of our fathers. He believed that this was still the country that our fathers fought so dearly to preserve. It is not the same country. It is now a cross between Sodom and Gomorra and the land of Oz. We did unite for a short while after 9/11, but our attitude changed when we found out that defending our country would require some sacrifices."

No, our attitude changed when we attacked the wrong country under dubious circumstances, and with evidence of doubtful quality and presented with doubtful sincerity. When we attacked the country that was the source of the 9/11 attacks, Afghanistan, the nation and the world were behind the president. It was only when we, for the first time in our history, attacked a country who had done nothing to us, and for an ever changing list of bogus reasons (WMDs, oil, bringing democracy to the middle east, etc.) none of which turned out to be justified, that popular opinion changed. We trusted our leaders, and they let us down.

"We are in great danger. The terrorists are fanatic Muslims. They believe that it is okay, even their duty, to kill anyone who will not convert to Islam. It has been estimated that about one third or over three hundred million Muslims are sympathetic to the terrorists cause...Hitler and Tojo combined did not have nearly that many potential recruits. So... We either win it - or lose it - and you ain't gonna like losing."

Estimated by whom? According to what methods? This is just more MSU, and irrelevant MSU at that. The Iraq war is not, nor has it ever been, about Islamic terrorists. It was about Saddam Hussein, and his supposed WMDs.

As for the Islamic jihadists, this is nothing new. A strict conservative reading of the Koran has always implied death to infidels, and there have always been many Muslims more than willing to do so. The problem for them has always been what this missive conveniently omits: the means to do it. This is the crucial difference between WWII and the conflict with the Islamic jihadists. Hitler and Tojo had massive armies which they used to conquer neighboring states. They had the ability to effect a military takeover of the United States. Islamic jihadists lack this ability, WHICH IS WHY THEY RESORT TO TERRORISM IN THE FIRST PLACE! Terrorism is a technique of the weak, not the strong. Blowing up buildings in hijacked airplanes is the best they can do. It is a testimony to the myopia of the Chicken Littles out there screaming "We are in great danger!" that they fail to recognize this simple fact.

"America is not at war. The military is at war. America is at the mall."

It is ironic that I first heard this line from Bill Maher, an ardent opponent of the Iraq war. America is indeed at the mall, because unlike WWII, the opponent in this war simply does not pose 1/1,000th the risk that Germany and Japan did, and consequently, doesn't warrant the kind of massive sacrifice that Americans made then. Indeed, this is not the America of the greatest generation, the ones that saved us from the tyranny of fascism and later, communism. They would laugh at our hysterical reaction to these glorified vandals in the middle east, a pebble to the boulder those great men and women faced. Those who complain about disrespect for the military, and who then propagate this revisionist history, should look hard in the mirror. Comparing the Iraq conflict to WWII dishonors the memory and sacrifice of the men and women who fought and died in that great conflict more than any anti-war protester could.

2 comments:

alskling said...

have sent this article to every myopic, fundamentalist conservative who chose to bombard me with this "You ain't going to like losing" email propaganda in a well-intended, but misguided and ineffectual effort to convert me.

To my way of thinking, the biggest threat to the US way of life is not Islamic terrorists, nor any of the corruption and debauchery among our youth, the media, etc.(as some would lead us to believe), but the undeniable, totally American notion that critical, analytical thinking is not required to push a lever in the voting booth.

Brendan said...

Thanks for this great rebuttal. I just today received this article from an ultra-conservative acquaintance who claimed it was written by an 80-year-old democrat :) Does anyone know anything factual about this Bill Croghan guy ? Go Obama !