Friday, September 01, 2006
There are at least three pieces of falsely based rhetoric that are beginning
to emerge in the fall political campaign that need to be put into context
now, early in the game.
All three are being put forward by senior U.S. government officials or
Republican candidates, notably Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Pennsylvania's own nonresident peddler of
nontruths, Sen. Rick Santorum.
The first of these is that any American who does not believe that the United
States should stay in Iraq, to pursue President Bush's vanity war to the end
and continue to lose young fighting Americans as well as burn up formidable
amounts of cash, is somehow not only wrongheaded but also a traitor who does
not really love freedom.
This is a scurrilous lie, insulting and a disgusting slur on good
Americans -- Democrats, Republicans or independents -- who believe that it
is time the nation found a way to bring an end to a war that is now more
than 3 years old.
A second, very misleading, line that, notably, Republican Senate candidate
Santorum is using, most recently at a talk in Harrisburg on Monday, is that
America's current war is against "Islamic fascism." This concept is
inaccurate and unhelpful to the United States in both of its words. Anyone
with half a brain can see that Islam is by no means unified or unanimous in
its support of al-Qaida, terrorism or even Hezbollah and Hamas. Think of the
leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Or think of Indonesia, Bangladesh
and Malaysia, majority Islamic countries that have offered troops to the
United Nations to stand between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Forces in
defending the integrity of southern Lebanon.
In addition, what is going on in the Middle East does not meet the
definition of fascism. Fascism is a political philosophy, albeit a
scrofulous one, and is generally a national phenomenon, not cross-national
and religious in its scope.
Mr. Santorum has given no previous indication of any knowledge of foreign
affairs, but waving around the words "Islamic fascism" may take the cake.
The third falsely based line that some Republicans are throwing around is an
effort to draw a link between the situation in Europe in the 1930s --
Hitler, British Prime Minister A. Neville Chamberlain's 1938 Munich deal,
the Holocaust carried out by Germany and other nations against the Jews of
Europe -- and some Americans' advocacy of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The
two situations have nothing whatsoever in common -- even the fact that Mr.
Chamberlain saw himself as trying to preserve peace in Europe, whereas the
Bush administration is trying to find a way to say it's been successful in
Iraq despite the fact that none of its stated invasion objectives (apart
from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein) have been achieved.
What would be most useful for America at this point is that its 2006
electoral campaign be waged on the basis of truths -- about its economic
situation, of primary importance, as well as the current position of the
United States in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Feeding lies into the
system -- with claims that advocacy of withdrawal is disloyalty, "Islamic
fascism" is the problem or the situation in the Middle East is like that in
1930s Europe -- is stupid and counterproductive to useful debate among
competing candidates. It needs to stop now before it goes any further.