Thursday, April 13, 2006

Not again

Someone needs to issue an injunction prohibiting anyone associated with the Weekly Standard from drawing any further analogies between the present historical moment and the dark days of the 1930s. The latest volley of incoherent yodeling comes from William Kristol, who clucks his tongue and sighs that the Bush administration may indeed lack the raisins to confront Iran over its (cough) dreaded nuclear program. Moans Kristol:
IN THE SPRING OF 1936--seventy years ago--Hitler's Germany occupied the Rhineland. France's Léon Blum denounced this as "unacceptable." But France did nothing. As did the British. And the United States.

. . . Today, it is President Bush who has said (repeatedly) that Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, and a process which would enable Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable." The "reason it's unacceptable," the president has explained, is that "Iran armed with a nuclear weapon poses a grave threat to the security of the world." The Iranians must "not have a nuclear weapon in which to blackmail and/or threaten the world."

Is the America of 2006 more willing to thwart the unacceptable than the France of 1936? So far, not evidently. According to the New York Times, "One of President Bush's most senior foreign policy advisers" recently told a group of academics, "The problem is that our policy has been all carrots and no sticks. And the Iranians know it."

I won't attempt to top Scott's apt description of these arguments as "pathetically quarter-assed smear jobs," though I will note that for the neocons, every day is groundhog's day -- Kristol, Podhoretz, Perle and the rest of them wake up, poke their snouts out from their fortified bunkers on the front lines of global conflict, and believe it's 1936, or 1938, or 1939 (but never 1937, for reasons I can't quite explain) all over again. If I recall correctly, Norman Podhoretz was stroking this analogy as far back as 1979-1980 as he promoted the ascent of Ronald Reagan to Mount Olympus; and of course everyone recalls the self-parodying Hitler analogies during the first Gulf War; and then during the 1990s, through their long nights in the underground, le resistance mumbled constantly about the "catastrophic and catalyzing" effect a "new Pearl Harbor" attack might have on the flabby, degraded will of the American people.

What I don't understand is this: Since we're already presumably engaged in a titanic struggle with evil -- depending on his mood, for example, Bush is always fondly comparing the GWOT to either the second world war or to the cold war -- how the fuck can we be stuck back in the 1930s again? Have the very people who insist that we "never forget" September 11 suddenly forgotten that they already got their "new Pearl Harbor?" But I suppose that's the point. Aside from their ahistorical and neurotic incantations of "Munich," "Chamberlain," "appeasement," and whatnot, the truly awful purpose served by the 1930s analogy is to imply that anything short of massive confrontation serves merely to delay the next inevitable . . . well . . . massive confrontation.

This movie sucks. I want my money back.