Friday, September 01, 2006

what is it this time?

Just when I thought I would find nothing to blog about, Republicans have launched Iraq War PR campaign No.57: terrorism is the new Communism/Fascism. We've gone from WMDs to Saddam & 9/11 to 'last throes' to Islamofascism with nary a pause for reflection. the idea is that absent those permanent fortresses, a legion of Doom consisting of Baathists, Iranians, al-Qaeda shock troops, Lex Luthor, Destro, the Baroness and the Cobra Commander. I would be more cynical about this campign but it actually seems as if they believe that we should treat one thing as if it were another.

First, Bush issues perhaps the most disingenous disclaimer ever:"They're not political speeches," he said. "They're speeches about the future of this country, and they're speeches to make it clear that if we retreat before the job is done, this nation would become even more in jeopardy. These are important times, and I seriously hope people wouldn't politicize these issues that I'm going to talk about."Then, to steal a phrase from Dave Weigel (late of Reason/besmirched guest blogger at AndrewSullivan.com) he and his surrogates "banked left and took the Rumsfeld Expressway into False Equivalence City." The words "fascism," "Nazi," and "communist" must've focus-grouped really well since we are getting them non-stop despite any connection with the totalitarian theocratic ideology at work in modern terror attacks. Some see the hand of Rove, pushing seniors with knee-jerk reactions to Fascism/Communism analogies (no matter how weak) to lift the sagging popularity of the Republicans in this election year. Fascism is particularly nonsensical, as it consists of industrialized anti-communist militarized nationalism not medievalist guerilla pan-nationalist religious extremism.
At a campaign event with Laura Bush, Senator Conrad Burns of Montana said a "faceless enemy" of terrorists "drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night."

Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history's lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."
The Bush team's latest tactic involves suggestions that Democrats plan to block all war appropriations, starving the troops of supplies, armor, and munitions so they lose the war, and thus retreat, faster. This time, the mainstream media was good enough to ask him to elaborate on just exactly who these straw-men capitulationists are in the Democratic Party. Their backfilling response was no one in particular those are 'logical interpretations' of favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.If this were such an existential threat to civilization, why have we not tripled the defense budget, started rolling out the war bonds and worked harder to build alliances with allied nations? Osama is neither Hitler nor Stalin and Baghdad is not Berlin. Al-Qaeda and its kin don't have Panzers or V-2 wunderwapens or the nationalist support of the Nazis or the Soviets. The thought should be rather insulting to any WWII vets out there.

Instead of coming to terms (or 'adapting to change' as it were) with the ongoing Iraqi civil war and its multitudinous factions, Bush chooses not to see this because of ideological blindness. Just as not all of our friends in the Middle east are democrats, not all of our enemies are fascists. The leaders of nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan are uneasy whenever Bush talks about supporting the democratic reformers and freedom on the march. of course, that whole idea of supporting democracy in the Middle East is undercut by them electing extremists when they do get democracy. The Democratic party must succeed in finally decoupling the War on Terrorism from the War in Iraq, if nothing else.

This is a recipe for national cognitive dissonance: most people are willing to support the war on terror and even see their family members off to fight it, but not without a clear victory, without any sacrifice expected and without any end in sight. Even the blood-for-oil theory doesn't apply since we are spending far more than every drop of oil in Iraq would be worth even if we stole it all.

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