…if you’re walking through horseshit all the way.
Which brings me to the speech made by President Bush the other day. He was talking to a VFW convention in Kansas City — friendly turf, you’d have to call it — and he was whipping up support for his obvious intention to keep us in Iraq for many years to come.
It’s hardly necessary, and certainly not pleasant, to cite the litany of ever-changing reasons for having invaded Iraq in the first place. Even prominent Republicans in large numbers are willing to admit going in was maybe not such a terrific idea after all. The problem now is, how and when do we leave? The two question are intertwined, probably inseparable. But Bush is willing to address directly — as directly as he addresses any complex issue — only the matter of when.
His answer to “when,” as nearly as I can parse it, is
when the Iraqi people have formed a democratic society like our own and have provided guarantees that, after we leave, nothing bad will happen to make me look like such a murderous nitwit in the first place.
Which parsing, if correct, puts “when” sometime in, roughly, the twenty-fourth century.
How can he justify such a ruinously lengthy committment of US blood, money, and prestige — even if it takes three years rather than three centuries? He justifies it with the assurance that it can, and will, come to pass. And he bases that assurance on two things, as nearly as one can infer from the available data.
First is his putative faith in the Almighty, and his own role, privy to the Almight’s wishes, as executor of the Almight’s will. That traces back to his conversion, which starred Billy Graham on the beach rather than Jesus on the road to Damascus, and the sincerity of which I might more easily credit had it not happened at the instigation of Bush senior just as junior was entering the national spotlight.
But that is material for another time. As to the second basis for his assurance, it is historical. Speaking to the VFW,
Continue reading “Long Way”
he noted that, at the end of World War II, many people doubted the likelihood of Japan ever being transformed into a functioning democracy.
You know, the experts sometimes get it wrong. An interesting observation, one historian put it — he said, “Had these erstwhile experts” — he was talking about people criticizing the efforts to help Japan realize the blessings of a free society — he said, “Had these erstwhile experts had their way, the very notion of inducing a democratic revolution would have died of ridicule at an early stage.”
The message then — and again, at great personal risk to my own grammatical well-being, I parse the Bushiness — is approximately this.
All we need do in Iraq is be patient. Ignore the so-called experts who say it won’t work. The Arabs are just as amenable to change as the Japanese. We will prevail… no, change that. We will bring democracy to the Middle East, and it will be our kind of democracy. Just, you know, hang in there. See, I just quoted a famous historian who agrees with me.
Here’s where things get really tricksy, folks. Pay close attention.
The historian he quoted is John Dower, a Professor of History at MIT, a man who has won a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a Bancroft Prize for his books on history. In other words, a genuine authority, a man who knows his stuff. If he thinks Bush is right, we need to cut POTUS some serious slack.
But. Does this Professsor Dower actually agree with Bush?
For that, I refer you to something else Dower wrote. Here’s an extract from an article he wrote about four and a half years ago, just at the time the Administration was getting ready to shock and awe the Arabs out of their socks.
It is important to keep all this in mind when we begin to talk about drawing lessons from Japan that might be applicable to Iraq after any projected U.S. hostilities. The postwar occupation of Japan possessed a great intangible quality that simply will not be present in the event of a U.S. war against Iraq. It enjoyed virtually unquestioned legitimacy -— moral as well as legal —- in the eyes of not merely the victors but all of Japan’s Asian neighbors and most Japanese themselves. Japan had been at war for almost fifteen years. It had declared war on the Allied powers in 1941. It had accepted the somewhat vague terms of surrender “unconditionally” less than four years later. Quite the opposite can be anticipated if the United States attacks and then occupies Iraq. The United States will find the legitimacy of its actions widely challenged -— within Iraq, throughout the Middle East and much of the rest of the world, and even among many of its erstwhile supporters and allies. [emphasis added]
In conclusion, I offer you two additional quotes. One is from Judge Learned Hand, one of the most brilliant and respected jurists in American History, probably the finest judge we ever produced who never served on the Supreme Court (and certainly far superior to hordes who did).
No doubt one may quote history to support any cause, as the devil quotes scripture.
And Hand was there referencing another bright and well-known fellow, name of Shakespeare.
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.