Oct 14, 2006

Weekend Matinée - Huffin' 'N Puffin' Pigs

Here's an animated narrative from a fabled past, a past the so-called neo con's (or the whackos, as they were endearingly referrred to by people in Bush Sr's administration and by Colin Powell) are ever so feverishly trying to hijack to pretext their special agendas and expressions of Stalinoid loyalties.

Somehow we are begged to take seriously that an advanced industrialized nation state the likes of Hitler's Third Reich, hellbent on wars of aggression that deployed all of a modern and sovereign state's plethora of resources to such invasive ends, is now to be seen as little more of a threat than a band of roving neolithic thugs and a few thousand partisans (few of whom reasonably own even one biometric passport) who seem to only fight us where we have occupied them - and at that with little more than the type of weapons that only demand the sophistication of a single illiterate to fire them.

I'm guessing though that in the long run the generalized flexibility of the now ubiquitous term “terrorist” will prove to make it infinitely more useful as a political instrument than evoking memories of a specific nation or regime, and so invests the term with a long half-life more suiting the actual deep campaigns at hand. After all, it only took us four or so years to bitch slap German into democratic and complacent place.

With semantic abracadabra, the notion (Rand Corporation terminology and insight at that) that is Al Qaeda is transformed in such a way that every Arab, every Muslim, every immigrant, every dissident, every person of color, every (choose your enemy) is a threat; and the world is divided between Us and the Dark Other with no resolution except the agonal. Here the calculated anger riled up by the Danish cartoons and the Pope's comments serve an instrumental role in achieving this connect between terrorist and people.

In a stunning bit of linguistic legerdemain, the actual mass movement of political Islam has been recoded by the neocons as Islamo-fascism, and among the crypto-libertarians of the white right, fascist is an epithet reserved now for liberals.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has twice invoked the historical analogy to appeasement—referring to the years just before World War II, culminating in the Munich conference of September 1938—to frame the globe’s current struggle with terrorism in apocalyptic terms. Vice President Dick Cheney has used the same analogy, without even gracing it with a name, to defend what he calls the “battle for the future of civilization.”

The Bushies clearly intend to evoke an atmosphere of shattering events, but their history is fractured and misleading, and their use of this analogy is a throwback to the methods that led America into Vietnam

None of their jive is true and quite frankly I'm stunned that members of the American Legion or folks out at Offut Air Force Base put up with the demeaning lies fed to them by Rumsfeld and Cheney. There was no mass political movement demanding appeasement of Germany. Rather there was a specific policy choice—made primarily by Sir Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister of the time—to mollify Hitler and gain time for rearmament.

In February 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson invoked Munich in his reasoning for responding to a terrorist incident in the Central Highlands by beginning the bombing of North Vietnam. That summer, when LBJ sent U.S. armies to fight in Vietnam, he invoked Munich again. As Johnson’s secretary of state, Dean Rusk repeatedly mentioned the dangers of appeasement. It was the effort to avoid another Munich that led to years of stark tragedy and desperate peril in Vietnam.

The correct lesson to be drawn from Munich today is that when the Bush administration raises its specter, it is a sure sign they want to pursue extravagant policies, usually of violence, based on narrow grounds with shaky public support.

It is dangerous because it claims that the only solution to any situation is to fight—Cheney’s point exactly. Having done nothing beyond silly propaganda—despite its own claims—to undermine the jihadists by eliminating the economic and political oppression that form the basis of jihadist appeal, the Bush people counsel that the fight is everything and that talking is “appeasement.”

Bush administration history is like their reality—faith-based.

The same speeches that contain the Munich claims portray the Iraqi and Afghan people as “awakening to a future of hope and freedom” (Cheney) and say the U.S. strategy in Iraq “has not changed” (Rumsfeld).

The faith is that if you repeat falsehoods enough times then you the public will believe them.

There is another historical analogy there—a real one—to Adolf Hitler’s henchman, Josef Goebbels. He called it the “Big Lie.”

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