Monday, November 5, 2007

Hillary! finds GWB's analogies "faulty and offensive"

Her whole statement:

“George Bush’s faulty and offensive historical analogies aren’t going to end the war in Iraq, make America safer or bring our troops home. Americans are tired of the President’s efforts to play politics with national security and practice the politics of division.

“When I am President I will end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home safely.”

That's a lot to ask of a few analogies. But which analogies were those, you ask? She might have been more specific. Mark Hemingway thinks it was the ones in which he compared Osama bin Laden to Lenin and Hitler. From the speech:
We must take the words of the enemy seriously. The terrorists have stated their objectives. They intend to build a totalitarian Islamic empire -- encompassing all current and former Muslim lands, stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In pursuit of their imperial aims, these extremists say there can be no compromise or dialog with those they call infidels -- a category that includes America, the world's free nation [sic], Jews, and all Muslims who reject their extreme vision of Islam. They reject the possibility of peaceful coexistence with the free world. Again, hear the words of Osama bin Laden last year: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."

History teaches that underestimating the words of evil, ambitious men is a terrible mistake. In the early 1900s, the world ignored the words of Lenin, as he laid out his plans to launch a Communist revolution in Russia -- and the world paid a terrible price. The Soviet Empire he established killed tens of millions, and brought the world to the brink of thermonuclear war.

In the 1920s, the world ignored the words of Hitler, as he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany, take revenge on Europe, and eradicate the Jews -- and the world paid a terrible price. His Nazi regime killed millions in the gas chambers, and set the world aflame in war, before it was finally defeated at a terrible cost in lives and treasure.

Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. And the question is: Will we listen? America and our coalition partners are listening. We have made our choice. We take the words of the enemy seriously. Over the past six years, we have captured or killed hundreds of terrorists. We have disrupted their finances. We have prevented new attacks before they could be carried out. We removed regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq that had supported terrorists and threatened our citizens, and in so doing, liberated 50 million people from the clutches of tyranny.
I'm baffled trying to sort this out. Certainly those two were greater villains, in the sense that they killed greater numbers, so is she taking Osama's side, suggesting that the President is being mean to bin Laden by comparing him to those two? Or were Lenin and Hitler the ones being unfairly maligned?

These are the questions that Hemingway was wondering about when he asked the leaders of the Communist Party USA and American Nazi Party if they felt offended by the President's analogies.
So if you’re keeping score, Hillary Clinton finds Bush’s historical analogy, comparing Osama Bin Laden to Hitler and Lenin, wrong and offensive. She is joined by the Communist Party USA, who also find the analogy offensive — apparently because Lenin didn’t do anything wrong. The American Nazi Party is, frankly, flattered by the comparison — which it gleefully extends to George Washington for reasons only a mental health professional knows. And everybody involved hates George W. Bush.

Somehow I doubt these are the ideological compatriots Clinton was seeking out when she suggested that the President’s analogy was “faulty and offensive.” But if the American Nazi Party and Communist Party USA are not the company in which Clinton wishes to place herself, then what did she mean? I, for one, would be grateful for some clarification about exactly how evil the Senator regards Osama Bin Laden — if he’s not fairly mentioned in the same breath as Hitler and Lenin.

Otherwise, I might suggest that the Senator’s Clintonian parsing has gotten out of hand. Or have we really reached a point at which it depends on what your definition of “megalomaniacal threat to Western civilization” is?
Later in the speech, though, the President makes a couple more historical analogies. Maybe this passage is what she found faulty and offensive:
We can have confidence in this cause because we have seen the power of liberty to transform nations and secure peace before. Here at the Heritage Foundation, you understand this better than most. During the Cold War, there were loud voices in Washington who argued for accommodation of the Soviet Union -- because they believed the watchword of our policy should be "stability." At Heritage, you knew that when it came to the Soviet Union, the watchword of our policy should be "freedom."

Together with a great President named Ronald Reagan, you championed a policy of rolling back communism oppression and bringing freedom to nations enslaved by communist tyranny. And by taking the side of dissidents, who helped millions across the world throw off the shackles of communism, you helped build the free and peaceful societies that are the true sources of stability and peace in the world.

And now we're at the start of a new century, and the same debate is once again unfolding -- this time regarding my policy in the Middle East. Once again, voices in Washington are arguing that the watchword of the policy should be "stability." And once again they're wrong. In Kabul, in Baghdad, in Beirut, and other cities across the broader Middle East, brave men and women are risking their lives every day for the same freedoms we enjoy. And like the citizens of Prague and Warsaw and Budapest in the century gone by, they are looking to the United States to stand up for them, speak out for them, and champion their cause. And we are doing just that.

We are standing with those who yearn for the liberty -- who yearn for liberty in the Middle East, because we understand that the desire for freedom is universal, written by the Almighty into the hearts of every man, woman and child on this Earth.

We are standing with those who yearn for liberty in the Middle East, because we know that the terrorists fear freedom even more than they fear our firepower. They know that given a choice, no one will choose to live under their dark ideology of violence and death.

We're standing with those who yearn for liberty in the Middle East, because we know that when free societies take root in that part of the world, they will yield the peace we all desire. See, the only way the terrorists can recruit operatives and suicide bombers is by feeding on the hopelessness of societies mired in despair. And by bringing freedom to these societies, we replace hatred with hope, and this will help us to marginalize the extremists and eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism, and make the American people more secure.

The lessons of the past have taught us that liberty is transformative. And I believe 50 years from now an American President will be speaking to Heritage and say, thank God that generation that wrote the first chapter in the 21st century understood the power of freedom to bring the peace we want.
Could it be that what is "faulty and offensive" is the comparison of the Cold War and the rolling back of Communism to the current war and the rolling back of what exactly? Terrorism? Totalitarianism? Islamo-fascism? Many of the Democrats seem to think there is no war; from the middle of the speech:
I know that when I discuss the war on terror, some here in Washington, D.C. dismiss it as political rhetoric -- an attempt to scare people into votes. Given the nature of the enemy and the words of its leaders, politicians who deny that we are at war are either being disingenuous or naive. Either way, it is dangerous for our country. We are at war -- and we cannot win this war by wishing it away or pretending it does not exist.

Unfortunately, on too many issues, some in Congress are behaving as if America is not at war.
The analogy would be faulty if there were no enemy, and offensive if Hillary! regarded herself as being depicted on the wrong side in the struggle between the "stability" and the "freedom" factions, or if she regarded the depiction of the accomodationists, the "stability" faction, as being in the wrong, as demeaning.

The enemy is not Islam per se, nor any particular nation, which makes the enemy exceedingly difficult to define. Difficult to find, too; they hide among civilians and use them as shields as a matter of policy. The President's opponents, seeking advantage wherever they can, would like the public to confuse difficulty with impossibility, and then, the undefinable with the nonexistent.

Should those opponents achieve the power they seek, they will have to choose. They can continue to defend Western civilization in whatever way they can, though the word "war" will by denied them by their own choosing. Or they can continue in their current path, denying the existence of an enemy, as we lose an embassy here, a warship there, airplanes, buildings, who knows what. This war has been going on over a thousand years. It warms, it cools, it continues. Some of the quiet spells have lasted over a century. But the first overseas enemies the US faced and defeated were the Barbary Pirates, 200 years ago. [The XYZ Affair fighting was closer to home, off our shores and in the Caribbean.] That was the first US battle in the war that we are fighting now. "Shores of Tripoli," as you remember. Which makes Bush the inheritor of the mantle of Jefferson. How about that!

To get back to Hillary!'s statement for a minute: she finds the President's analogies "faulty and offensive," but does not tell us what their faults are, or in what way they offend. She goes on to say that the analogies will not accomplish the goals of ending the war, making America safer, of bringing the troops home. If the analogies had been less faulty, less offensive, would they have been able to do those things? Oh come on, they're analogies, mere words. They don't have the strength to accomplish anything. Although one sees this kind of magical thinking on the Left often enough: good intentions count more than actual deeds, words have power to make a difference in the physical world.

She goes on to say that when (not "if") she becomes President she will accomplish two of the three goals. She'll end the war and bring the troops home safely, but she won't make America safer. Seems about right: such a display of weakness would only lead to more aggressive attacks by our enemies. When Bill was President, it was an embassy here, a warship there, the first WTC bomb, and so forth; Democrats regard that period as a Golden Age. So there is a level of losses, some number of airplanes hijacked, some number of buildings blown up, and so on, that Hillary! and the Democrats find acceptable and would like to return to. That's a policy of being the victim of a war of attrition, and not responding. The sentence "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!" comes to mind. The origin of that slogan is disputed. Still, it resonates with Kipling's

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:—

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”

Jizya, Danegeld, attrition, whatever. Do I ramble? A bit, a bit.

There is one more historical analogy that might be offensive to someone: it's in that last paragraph,
I believe 50 years from now an American President will be speaking to Heritage and say, thank God that generation that wrote the first chapter in the 21st century understood the power of freedom to bring the peace we want.
Of course this is historical in a projective sense, it's history that has not happened yet. But to one who thought her party should have been writing that chapter, and would have written it differently—that could be offensive. "It should have been us that that future President was/will be praising! Not them!" Maybe that's the one.

Update: Interesting that Jay Tea at Wizbang! uses the Harper and Kipling quotes, in equally close proximity, on another topic. Great minds, you know.

No comments: