[Rhetoric, Elections 2006]
Bush Invoking the Nazis
Give the Bush administration credit--they know how to use language. As I mentioned in earlier posts, they managed to establish a connection between al Qaida and Iraq through suggestion--so effectively, in fact, that 43% of Americans still believe Saddam was personally involved with the 9/11 bombings. Since we have seen election season rhetoric ramping up again, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane and see how the administration used WWII to clothe itself in moral clarity and virtue while arguing for (and later justifying) its absurd Iraq invasion.
Here's a pulpy example from March, when Bush indulged in an eye-roller while speaking at Freedom House. He explained that his administration would not abandon Iraqis, "because we've seen freedom overcome the darkness of tyranny and terror and secure the peace before."
"In 1941, the year the Freedom House began its work, the future of freedom seemed bleak. There were about a dozen lonely democracies in the world. The Soviet Union was led by the tyrant Stalin who massacred millions. Hitler was leading Nazi Germany in a campaign to dominate Europe and eliminate the Jewish people from the face of the Earth. An imperial Japan launched a brutal surprise attack on America. Today, six decades later, the Soviet empire is no more; Germany and Japan are free nations, and they are allies in the cause of peace; and the majority of the world's governments are democracies."You see? Freeing the Iraqis from Saddam's tyranny is no different than freeing European Jews from Hitler's cold scythe.
Much the same of this comment, following the London bombings in July 2005. "Like fascism and communism," the Middle East contends with a "hateful ideology," Bush said, adding:
"This week there's great suffering in the city of London, but Londoners are resilient. They have faced brutal enemies before. A city that survived the Nazi blitz will not yield in the face of thugs and assassins. And just as America and Great Britain stood together to defeat the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century, we now stand together against the murderous ideologies of the 21st century."Never is there a situation too grave for Bush to exploit. (How much terrorism looks like fascism and communism--or how much fascism looks like communism, or al Qaida terrorism like the Iraqi civil war--is another question Bush choose to breeze by.)
Here, speaking in June to graduates of the Merchant Marines, Bush personalizes his analogy:
"'Deeds, Not Words' was the hallmark of this Academy in World War II. In the early years of the war, America's efforts to supply our allies in Europe were threatened by the U-boats that were sinking American ships faster than we could build them. The need to arm and defend our merchant ships was urgent, and King Pointers answered the call. One of them was an 18-year-old named Edwin O'Hara, whose statue stands not far from here. In September 1942, Cadet O'Hara was serving on the USS Stephen Hopkins when it came under attack from two Nazi raiders. After the entire gun crew of the Hopkins was killed by enemy fire, O'Hara singlehandedly served and fired the last five shells in the ready box, scoring direct hits on the German warship Stier. Cadet O'Hara was mortally wounded in the action, but not before he helped send the Stier to the bottom of the South Atlantic."This is relevant, of course, because--wait for it--
"'Deeds, Not Words' was your response on the morning of September the 11th, 2001. From this campus, every man and woman could see the black smoke rising from the Twin Towers. Within hours, your midshipmen were working side-by-side with the Coast Guard and marine division of the New York City Fire Department.Two years ago, ramping up for another election, Bush linked Iraq with postwar Germany:
"And no matter what the terrorists plan, no matter what they attempt, a democratic, free Iraq is on the way. At the same time, our coalition is helping the Iraqi people to rebuild the basic infrastructure of their country. This is work that America has done before. I want you to remember this. In 1947, two years after the Nazi surrender, there was still starvation in Germany. Reconstruction seemed to be faltering. The Marshall Plan had not yet begun. Soon Berlin would be blockaded, on the orders of Joseph Stalin. Some questioned whether a free and stable Germany could emerge from the rubble."But I think my favorite comes from a speech he gave in May 2005 in Latvia. He was really feeling it, the certainty of his mission in Iraq personified by Latvians smiling back the promise of freedom and democracy.
"The Nazi terror is remembered today in places like Auschwitz, Dachau, Rumbula Forest, where we still hear the cries of the innocent, and pledge to God and history: Never again. The alliance that won the war is remembered today in carefully tended cemeteries in Normandy, Margraten, St. Petersburg, and other places across Europe, where we recall brief lives of great honor, and we offer this pledge: We will always be grateful."(You hear in this Bush's speculation about his own place in history--having delivered unto the violent Mussalmen a lasting, peace, his memory will be celebrated in carefully-tended, gardenlike cemetaries of Baghdad.) Later in the speech, he started bringing it home:
"As in other parts of the world, successful democracies in the broader Middle East must also bridge old racial and religious divides -- and democracy is the only force capable of doing so. In Iraq, the new Cabinet includes members of all of Iraq's leading ethnic and religious groups, who, despite their differences, share a commitment to democracy, freedom, and the rule of law....You can just see, one imagines Bush thinking as he read the speech, the garden of democracy flowering in places like Beirut.
"In the Middle East, we are seeing the rule of law -- the rule of fear give way to the hope of change. And brave reformers in that region deserve more than our praise. The established democracies have a duty to help emerging democracies of the broader Middle East."
"Now, ladies and gentlemen, the freedom of Europe, won by courage, must be secured by effort and goodwill. In our time, as well, we must raise our sights. In the distance we can see another great goal -- not merely the absence of tyranny on this continent, but the end of tyranny in our world. Once again, we're asked to hold firm to our principles, and to value the liberty of others. And once again, if we do our part, freedom will prevail. Thank you, and God bless."Amen, brother George, amen.