November 12, 2007

This is just SO 2006...

From AlterNet, (thanks to Dean) a paranoid rant about how Bush is, like the German military in 1918, preparing a "stabbed in the back legend" to shift blame for losing the Iraq Campaign...

....It may seem farfetched to compare a Prussian military dictatorship and its self-serving lies to the current Bush administration. Yet I'm not the first person to express concern about the emergence of our very own Iraqi Dolchstoßlegende. Back in 2004, Matthew Yglesias first brought up the possibility. Last year, in Harper's Magazine, Kevin Baker detailed the history of the stab-in-the-back, suggesting that Bush's Iraqi version was already beginning to germinate early in 2005, when news from Iraq turned definitively sour. And this October, in The Nation, Eric Alterman warned that the Bush administration was already busily sowing the seeds of this myth. Other Iraqi myth-trackers have included Gary Kamiya at Salon.com, and Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith at Commondreams.org. Just this August, Thomas Ricks, Washington Post columnist and author of the bestselling book, Fiasco, worried publicly about whether the military itself wasn't already embracing elements of the myth whose specific betrayers would include "weasely politicians" (are there any other kind?) and a "media who undercut us by focusing on the negative."

Is an American version of this myth really emerging then? Let's listen in on a recent Jim Lehrer interview with Senator John McCain, who, while officially convinced that the President's surge plan in Iraq was working, couldn't seem to help talking about how we might yet lose. His remarks quickly took a disturbing turn as he pointed out that our Achilles' heel in Iraq is... well, we the people of the United States and our growing impatience with the war. And the historical analogy he employed was Vietnam, the catalyst for the deployment of the previous American Dolchstoßlegende...

Of course the big problem here is that it looks like we are now winning in Iraq (and unlike Vietnam this will not be easy to conceal from the American people) and so there isn't going to be a need for defeatists to argue against a "Dolchstoßlegende." What they will need to be arguing is that the victory is a fluke, and does not validate the idea of fighting for our civilization and our traditional values. That's what's in store for Lefty nihilists everywhere.

Another problem with the piece is that what McCain was saying is the simple truth. In Vietnam we were "stabbed in the back," and the author, weirdly, includes the evidence, the smoking gun...

...It's a myth we ourselves are familiar with. As South Vietnam was collapsing in 1975, Army Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr., speaking to a North Vietnamese counterpart, claimed the U.S. military had never lost a battle in Vietnam. Perhaps so, the NVA colonel replied, "but it is also irrelevant." Summers recounts his conversation approvingly, without irony, in his book On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War. For him, even if we lost the war, our Army proved itself "unbeatable."

Though Summers' premise was -- and remains -- dangerously misleading, it reassured the true believers who ran, and continue to run, our military....

The thing is, that quote about how military victory was "irrelevant" was itself testimony of a stab in the back. What the colonel said was that our military victory was made irrelevant by a political defeat. And where did that that defeat happen? Was he saying that communists were winning elections or supporters in Southeast Asia? No, he is saying that the political defeat was here in America. And "stab in the back" is a perfectly reasonable description of that defeat...

Posted by John Weidner at November 12, 2007 8:57 AM
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