March 23, 2006

History, Conservative Style

I received a forwarded e-mail today, entitled "History" and subtitled "A California Lawyer's Perspective on Iraq War." I enjoy forwarded e-mails, by and large, and I thought I would share a bit of this one with my readership. I can't paste in the whole thing, because it's terribly long and there wouldn't be any room left for my own commentary.

The basic thesis amounts to this: Islam is having both an Inquisition and a Reformation right now. If the Inquisition wins, Jihadists will try to take over the world and we will have to stop them. If the Reformation wins, all trouble in the Middle East will go away. Our war in Iraq is the best chance the world has to help the Islamic Reformation win, and if we succeed in Iraq, they will win.

Plus, our only choices regarding how to handle "the Jihad" are [various choices], and the only one of those that's any good involves doing exactly what we are doing. Additionally, all you nay-sayers are wrong about the war because [various reasons]. And furthermore, you pathetic people who are complaining about [time, money, casualties] are retarded because [insert war here] was much larger and more costly, and you didn't hear our ancestors complain.

And now, a few highlights (as I feel led):

Regarding our entry into World War II after Pearl Harbor, the author (whose name happens to be Raymond Kraft) says, "It was a dicey thing. We had few allies."

Well, I suppose that's true depending on your definition of few. After all, we only had the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, China, France, Poland, Greece, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Canada, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, India, and . . . a few others. These few, small countries against the combined might of enormous land masses like Japan (not to mention Germany and Italy). Now, this is something of a minor point to quibble with, I realize, but I include merely to illustrate the general tone of the entire piece. Our California lawyer friend plays fast and loose with adjectives and figures, and especially dates, in order to manipulate the audience. Moving on . . .

Now, one thing I always love to see whenever conservatives begin to hotly defend our outrageous actions in Iraq is the idea that we went there for the express purpose of [insert purpose that has nothing whatever to do with weapons of mass destruction here]. In this case, the author makes the incredible claim that we chose Iraq as our Middle East battlefield against the Jihad. Hmmm . . . I think the next battlefield of our choosing should be the Grand Cayman Islands. That sounds fun. Because remember, wherever we start fighting, terrorists will flock there to oppose us, and we can crush them all with one blow.

Furthermore, he states that, "It was our intention from the beginning to do just enough to enable the Iraqis to develop a representative government and their own military and police forces to provide their own security, and that is happening." Funny thing about our intention from the beginning . . . it keeps changing. Nowhere in the entire piece does the author cite our actual intention, which (of course) was a frantic hunt for nonexistent WMD. I have noted that conservatives these days take two approaches to WMD in Iraq. They are either in a state of denial, clamoring that they have to be there, somewhere (although even Dubya has given that up by now), or they just pretend that the entire intelligence fiasco never happened at all and our reasons for going in were entirely different, as in this case.

The piece really gets good, though, when Kraft starts trying to do history, attempting to show us how minor and short-term our sacrifices in Iraq are in comparison to other wars, and so forth. The dates fly thick and fast here:

Europe spent the first half of the 19th century fighting Napoleon, and from 1870 to 1945 fighting Germany . . . World War II, the war with the German and Japanese Nazis, really began with a 'whimper' in 1928. It did not begin with Pearl Harbor. It began with the Japanese invasion of China. It was a war for fourteen years before America joined it. It officially ended in 1945 - a 17 year war - and was followed by another decade of US occupation in Germany and Japan to get those countries reconstructed and running on their own again . . . a 27 year war.

Let's see . . . Napoleon came to power at the very end of 1804, was defeated at Waterloo in 1815, and spent nearly a year in-between in exile on Elba. If you're lucky, you can squeeze a 10-year "War on Napoleon" (if you will) out of that, but considering the dude was dead by 1821 . . . Well, I guess that in the grand cosmic scheme of things, ten years is approximately half of a century. Whatever.

Speaking of exaggerations, consider what he calls a 75-year war between Germany and the rest of Europe (1870-1945). I presume he is referring to the three wars Germany fought in Europe during that period: The Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), World War I (1914-1918), and World War II (1939-1945). That's eleven years of warfare out of seventy-five . . . A number far smaller than the United States has spent at war since 1941, whether you count the Cold War or not. That's hardly what you'd call a constant conflict.

Furthermore, his entire characterization of World War II is grossly inaccurate. I have never in my life seen anyone seriously place the beginning of World War II at the Japanese invasion of China in 1928. You might just as well place it with the Battle of Hastings (1066), citing the fact that somewhere in the world, someone was fighting someone else during that entire time. And experts agree that, once one side of combatants surrenders to the other side and all the peace treaties are signed, the war is over. Tacking the ten extra years of American occupation onto the end of World War II is kind of cheating . . .

And I have to say, the thought of those "Japanese Nazis" with their goosestepping and aspirations of building the master Aryan race just chills my blood. What was it they called themselves? The House of the Rising Swastika?

I have to ask, if Kraft can't get simple numbers right, and feels the need to exaggerate things that are easily refuted, what makes anyone think he's right about anything else? And, sure enough, he doesn't just get numbers wrong. He's also hopelessly confused about ideologies.

"In the 20th century, it was Western democracy vs. communism, and before that Western democracy vs. Nazism, and before that Western democracy vs. German Imperialism."

Funny thing about a few of those . . . World War I was really more a case of German Imperialism vs. Everyone Else's Imperialism, in point of fact. And if we're going to be strictly accurate, the progression was Western democracy and communism vs. Nazism/Fascism, then Western democracy vs. communism. Let's not forget who was on which side when.

There are just a few more things that I wanted to point out at random before I wrap up . . . It's difficult to give an orderly response to something that is long, chaotic, and wrong on so many levels. Kraft's ideas about "the Jihad" are obviously severely distorted, given that he seems to think it refers to a single, coherent body of extremists who are organized and rallied behind the same banner, with the same goals, etc. He repeatedly says things like, "We can surrender to the Jihad" and "If the Jihad wins" and so forth. Of course that is absurd.

Let's say I want to surrender to "terrorism" . . . where would I go and with whom would I sign a treaty? Let's say that "terrorism" wins . . . Who is that, exactly? Who is the victor, and what are they doing? The entire idea of Islamic terrorism being considered as a single entity called "the Jihad" is simply ludicrous, and (as I said), demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the situation. In other words, it's no wonder this guy supports the war in Iraq as vital to defeating terrorists . . . he's an ignoramus who hasn't the foggiest idea what's going on over there.

To further demonstrate the absurdity of the whole idea, my friend Jonathan Wilson wrote the following document, which I found rather amusing (click to enlarge):

Anyway, one final thought before I lay the thing to rest. Kraft encouraged readers to pass his work along to students because apparently we don't know anything about history, and lack perspective and stuff, thanks to our liberal educations. Having read everything he had to say, I felt it would be wrong to just let it slide by. Near the end, Kraft says the following:

We can be defeatist peace-activists as anti-war types seem to be, and concede, surrender, to the Jihad, or we can do whatever it takes to win this war against them. The history of the world is the history of civilizational clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win. Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.

Yes, we pacifists are a sorry lot . . . never seem to get far, do we? Consider, for instance, the early Christians, foolishly refusing to fight back against the persecution of the Roman Empire. If memory serves, their movement was entirely stamped out by . . . oh, about 313 AD or so, and they were never heard from again. So much for passive resistance. I'm sure by now you're thinking of examples yourself . . . What about the Mennonites vs. the Nazis and, later, the communists? Who lasted longer there? Ghandi and the British Empire? Martin Luther King, Jr. and the KKK?

Conservative Christians confuse me so much sometimes . . .

Posted by Jared at March 23, 2006 02:01 PM | TrackBack