Sunday, April 02, 2006

A response on Rumsfeld's Ahistoricality

From The Rev. Vicesimus Knox, a still-popular view of historians:
"So little credit is to be given to historians, even in the recital of facts of public notoriety! how much less to their delineation of characters, and descriptions of motives for actions, secret counsels and designs, to which none was a witness but the bosom which entertained them! Yet many historians kindly communicate all. You would think them of the privy-council of all nations; that they possessed the attribute of omniscience, though their intelligence never came from a higher source than an old woman’s tale."
The host of the most recent History Carnival, from which the above came, decided not to leave out anything... which is probably the clause under which my critique of Rumsfeld's post-Nazi analogy made it in! The good news is that it looks like most of the rest of the carnival is actually good stuff, well worth reading. Of the stuff I hadn't seen already, Phil Harland's discussion of Satanic Conspiracies looks most promising.

Speaking of my rejoinder to Rumsfeld, I got rejoinded myself. Robert Tumminello after taking on big name critics for their failure to provide detailed (and convincing to him, specifically) responses to Rumsfeld's hip-shot shorthand, deigns to offer a comment on my mere blogging. Unfortunately, the sense of the mark being missed is mutual: Mr. Tumminello takes my rhetoric too literally when he discounts the ways in which the US indeed failed to protect Germany (especially East Germany) or punish Nazis, the ways in which the US had no choice in its stewardship of West Germany. (Just as an aside, I find it wonderfully hypocritical that Republicans knock liberal attempts to make historical analogies with Nazi Germany, even when they're made reasonably clearly, whereas Republicans can do it with ablomb.) And he completely failed to note the utter falsity of Rumsfeld's claims about Eastern Europe, which are just as bad, if not worse.

Even if we give full credit the US for its stewardship of Japan and Germany, Gary Leupp makes it clear that Iraq "is no" Japan or Germany
The propaganda of the occupiers requires that we believe things have improved since his fall. But the evidence suggests otherwise.

Women were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally. ...
Christians were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally. ...
Gays were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally. ...
Intellectuals were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally. ...

People in general were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally.

According to John Pace, former director of the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, "Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK. But now, no. Here, you have a primitive, chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want to anyone." Under Saddam the scale of abuse was "daunting," but now, "It extends over a much wider section of the population than it did under Saddam."

I doubt it was the intention of the Bush administration, once it decided to conquer Iraq and humiliate its former ally, to empower the religious fundamentalists who've launched their reign of terror on all these communities. ...
Nonetheless, that's been the effect. With regard to Japan and Germany after WWII, we had a plan and we had allies and we put a lot of money and manpower into the reconstruction and reorganization of our defeated enemy nations. If "Islamic Radicalism" (or whatever they're calling it these days) was the actual enemy and Iraq's alliance with that enemy was what justified the Iraq war, then what we're doing in Iraq is exactly like turning post-war Germany back over to the Nazis.

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