Saturday, September 09, 2006

World III, World War IV, or World War Whatever

The renewed message coming from conservatives is that we are fighting World War III. Norman Podorhetz thinks we are fighting World War IV, World War III being the Cold War. Funny how you can spend most of your life not even recognizing you have fought a third world war. But, as usual, I digress already. Let’s not get hung up on what number world war we are fighting, but concentrate on whether we are fighting a world war at all.

First of all, who is the enemy? Well, it’s terrorists and Islamo-fascists. Islamo-fascist is a term that was popular among conservatives, but quickly fell out of favor because it insulted Muslims who are not fascists. Now, President Bush has revived it and it is again wildly popular with conservatives. Since we are fighting a world war, conservatives compare it to fighting World War II. Osama bin Laden hiding out in his Pakistan cave is like Hitler presiding over a country like Germany even though you will never locate bin Laden’s country on the map. Iraq is like the Spanish Civil War. Either you can connect the dots or you are too dull witted to understand. For conservatives people who are skeptical of the Iraq Occupation continue in their skepticism on account of their dull witted appeasement, just as folks did during Hitler’s rise. Appeaser is the new code word for coward in the right wing mind.

One hopes the “war on terror”/World War III analogy will blow over because those espousing the idea don’t really believe it themselves given the evidence to date about the nature of terrorism and terrorist organizations. If you want to romanticize real terrorist organizations, you might call them partisans fighting without official state sanction. That is about the closest you can come in any comparison with the Spanish Civil War in the Thirties or World War II.

Questioning other people’s motives is risky business. But sometimes you just have to do it to make sense of things. Cranking up the volume on the world war analogy coincides with the 2006 elections. It certainly appeals to the belligerent sort sitting safely in their snug homes. They can denounce the appeasers without ever getting off their asses to fight, while feeling good about their bravery and their patriotism, plus conveniently forgetting that sooner or later trillion dollar military adventures need to be paid for. That sounds harsh, but I know enough people like that.

Then there are the skeptics that conservatives hope to scare or shame back into the fold. I suppose the skeptics are supposed to say, gee, I never thought about it that way. However, skeptics have thought about it that way and find the evidence and logic against the proposition overwhelming.

Then we have the attendant notion that this ties into spreading freedom and democracy about the world: yes, like propping up a monarchy in Saudi Arabia, supporting Saddam Hussein in the Eighties, and finding other allies who have no scruples about being tyrants and dictators. History has not changed when it comes to that. We live in a world of convenience. Some don’t pay much attention to messy details such as whether their allies are dictators as long as they are conveniently supporting their political and commercial interests. If a dictator can line their pockets with coins and create an agreeable environment that promotes their interests, they flat out go for it. It’s always been the best game in town.

A contradiction arises when conservatives claim we are safer now, but we are also in a world war. How does being in a world war make anybody safer? At least they could show a little consistency, but that is too much to ask.

The world war analogy is a tune played in an echo chamber. Long after the orchestra has stopped playing the unobservant will continue humming and whistling the tune because they believe the orchestra is still playing. It’s like a song that gets played a lot on the jukebox. After awhile you are tired of hearing it. Yet some people keep playing it even after it is over a year old, and think they are really hip.


At 4:34 PM, Blogger -epm said...

Who signs the surrender documents at the end of WWIII?

You can't have a war against an idea. The Civil War wasn't a war against racism; racism is alive and well. WWII wasn't a war against fascism; that too is alive and well. And this conflict -- whatever it is and whomever it's against -- will not stop religious and cultural hatred and it's violent expression.

If anything, the path we're now taking will only suppress such hatred and violence, and under that compression it will again explode... stronger, larger and more unified than ever. Look at the Taliban, pronounced dead be GWB just months ago, and their resurgence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Will they be seen by their cultural kinsman as the true liberators of their homelands -- fighting Western occupiers and infidels?

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Lynn said...

epm -

You make some good points as to just how murky the goals and objectives of this conflict really are.


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