In today's Washington Times, Cal Thomas has a column that makes some very dangerous assumptions about U.S. foreign policy. Here's an excerpt:
During World War II, U.S. and German forces fought the battle of Hurtgen Forest. It began Sept. 19, 1944 and ended Feb. 10, 1945. That was one battle in a strategically insignificant corridor of barely 50 square miles east of the Belgium-Germany border. The Germans inflicted more than 24,000 casualties on American forces, while another 9,000 Americans were sidelined due to illness, fatigue and friendly fire. Had live TV beamed this battle to America, there might have been an outcry that the policy was failing and somehow a cease-fire and an accommodation with Hitler should be achieved.Thomas here is using the "terrorists are evil like Nazis" rhetorical thread that has become so wildly popular with conservatives during the past five or so years. And on the face of it, the comparison makes sense: both groups are hateful and use vile tactics to accomplish their purposes. But the comparison falls apart if you look at it closely enough: The Nazis had a government; the terrorists have none. The Nazis had a capital and land and clearly delineated allegiances; the terrorists, once again, have none of the above. In its war against the Axis, the United States had specific, well defined criteria for defeating the Nazis. We have none for the conflict in Iraq.
America won that war because the objective wasn't to understand the Nazis, or to reach an accommodation with them; the objective was to win the war. Anything less in this war — against an equally evil and unrelenting enemy — will mean defeat for the United States and for freedom everywhere. That's what Mr. Rumsfeld was getting at when he said, "We can persevere in Iraq or we can withdraw prematurely, until they force us to make a stand nearer home. But make no mistake: They are not going to give up, whether we acquiesce in their immediate demands or not."
Rumsfeld is right.
This brings me to my next beef with Thomas's argument: he unquestioningly accepts Rumsfeld's claim that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is somehow connected to that ephemeral creature, the "War on Terror." Moreover, it would appear from Rumsfeld's and Thomas's arguments that, if we pull our (raping, killing) troops out of Iraq, the Iraqis will somehow come out of their country and attack our Freedom. Or something. It's vague.
So, according to this neat rhetorical construct, we have no choice but to continue on in a conflict that has no clearly defined goals or benchmarks for success.
It's like we're stuck in a fight against Nazis, but in this fight, the Nazis are zombies who just keep coming back to life. So it's really like an eternal Nazi zombie fight. Or something. It's vague.