Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Wrong 'World War'

By Derrick Z. Jackson
Boston Globe
February 17, 2007

IN THE November elections, Americans made it clear that scintillating rhetoric over an incendiary Iraq was now shallow, shrill, and senseless. That did not stop a parade of hysterical House Republicans from trying to prop up President Bush's proposed Iraq escalation with still more allusions that we are fighting Nazis.

"We are in a world war now against terrorism," said Representative Dan Burton of Indiana in opposing the symbolic resolution against the escalation. He said America had to "stand up so that we don't face a major holocaust down the road." He said the result of no one listening to Winston Churchill was that "62 million people died."

Then there was Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. She said, "The threat of Hitler did not appear suddenly out of a vacuum."

Top House honors for Best Dramatic Performance for a Deranged Policy went to Sue Myrick of North Carolina. She said, "Iraq is just one battlefield in this multigenerational struggle against radical Islamist jihadists. But it's a very important battlefield. This is the beginning stage of a multigenerational worldwide struggle that will last throughout our lives and likely our children's lives. . . . they will not stop until all lands from India to Morocco and Spain to Russia are governed by radical Islamic law. In 1938 Adolf Hitler told us what he was going to do and we refused to pay attention, and we cannot afford to repeat that historical mistake. . . . We must understand that we are fighting the first battles of a war against radical Islamist ideology that will be waged for the next 50, maybe 100 years."

Is that Armageddon or what?

It has not registered on these folks that we hanged the "Hitler" of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and last year, according to the United Nations, 34,000 Iraqi civilians still died in civil war. They are oblivious to the growing boomerang effect of their rhetoric. They keep invoking comparisons to World War II, but it does not seem to have dawned on their desk calendars that our nearly four-year invasion and occupation of Iraq has already passed the span from Pearl Harbor to Japanese surrender.

But unlike World War II, which had a global coalition of the willing to answer the global cries of the unwilling, the current "world war" has always been a unilateral US affair based on false pretenses with bit parts played by Great Britain and a handful of nations. The State Department Iraq Weekly Report this week lists "25 Countries With Forces in Iraq" to go along without 138,000. But the total forces amount to 15,371. On the face of it, that is an average of only 615 soldiers per country. But with Great Britain accounting for 7,000 of them, the United States ever more stands isolated.

The dwindling nations of the coalition have connected our disconnect. What is the point of this "world war," especially when non fighting Americans (who starkly include the children of the politicians most railing for the war) are more obsessed with Super Bowl commercials, Oscar nominations, and Anna Nicole Smith than the fate of the planet? What is the point of war in oil-rich Iraq when Chrysler was reportedly talking with General Motors to team up for yet another SUV like the Chevrolet Suburban or Tahoe? It was further reported yesterday that DaimlerChrysler is in talks to sell Chrysler outright to GM.

It took a while, but even Americans began connecting the dots by giving the leadership of the House and Senate back to the Democrats. In some kind of morbid poetic justice, the two countries that destroyed Iraq in order to save it now rank as the worst developed nations in which to be a child, according to UNICEF. In the Associated Press story on the study, one of its researchers, Jonathan Bradshaw of the University of York in Great Britain, said his country and the United States -- despite their immense wealth -- had "very high levels of inequality, very high levels of child poverty, which is also associated with inequality, and in rather different ways poorly developed services to families with children."

The UNICEF study said the United States was dead last in child health and safety, including the incidence of bullying. That makes the Hitler hysterics even more inane. The United States is in a "world war," spreading democracy by kicking sand in the world's face. At home, its own children are bullied into despair, falling into the hell of disparity.

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