09 August 2006

Cal Thomas's Problematic Commentary

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

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.
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.
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.

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.

5 comments:

marshwiggle said...

like the last paragraph.. and they are. so.. what do we do? Until someone provides a good answer to that question, the rest of us will keep fighting those zombies.. even if the only point is to keep them off our shores. :)

luaphacim said...

Silly Marshwiggle, zombies can't even swim! :-)

I have a tough time seeing how our present policy is doing a better job of preventing terrorism on our shores than withdrawal would. How many al Qaeda members will be recruited because of those U.S. troops' rape and murder of an Iraqi girl? I bet more than would be recruited if we had pulled out six months ago...

marshwiggle said...

Um, so you're telling me there were arabs that didn't hate america that now do? At the risk of sounding simplistic, the ones that already hated us still do. The rape, although horrible, registers much lower on the scale than our continued support of Israel. If it is unfair to point the finger at arabs, then I'll ask how many japanese terrorists came out of the rapes our soldiers have been accused of in the past ten years?

luaphacim said...

Hehe -- you're right, that does sound simplistic.

I find it extremely hard to believe that Arab public opinion towards the U.S. has not changed at all as a result of the atrocities committed by U.S. troops on Iraqi soil.

I do agree that the U.S. support of Israel is a contributing factor to the hostility of militant Muslims toward us, but there is a fundamental difference between a political action that the world sees as acceptable (i.e., political support of Israel) and an immoral action that nearly no one sees as acceptable (i.e., the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and her family).

Your question about Japanese terrorists is interesting, but it's a blind -- the Japanese culture is drastically different from the culture of Muslim peoples (including non-Arabic peoples like the Pakistanis who planned the airplane attacks in Britain), and Japanese hostility toward the U.S. will therefore take a form that is different from the militant Muslim response.

It was good to see you and the fam yesterday! :-)

pbsweeney said...

Iraq = The War On Terror + Nazis = The Old Shell Game and where's the Irish cop to bust it up and tell everyone to move along now ye scalliwags...