Friday, August 12, 2005

The Spanish Civil War and Iraq

It has been habit as of late for people to begin to refer to the Spanish Civil War in support of their various opinions about Iraq. This dress rehearsal for WWII, in which more than half a million people died, illustrated by Picasso and fought in by Hemingway, appears in the minds of many as a proud, shining moment for western leftists. Spain, only liberated from the fascist Franco in 1975, stands in our minds for for the proposition that appeasement is no option against the forces of reaction, and that today it may be someone else, but tomorrow it will be you.

Christopher Hitchens, in his usual grand and eloquent style (if you will forgive me for kissing his arse), breathes life into that proud moment, or in the case of those who stood by while Hitler bombed children, a not-so-proud moment.

Spainish civil war and Iraq

"Ian McEwan observed recently that there were, in effect, two kinds of people: those who could have used or recognized the words "Abu Ghraib" a few years ago, and those to whom it became a new term only last year. And what a resonant name it has indeed become. Now the Colombian painter Fernando Botero has produced a sequence of lurid and haunting pictures, based on the photographs taken by American war criminals, with which he hopes to draw attention to the horrors inflicted there. But his true ambition, he says, is to do for Abu Ghraib what Picasso did for Guernica"
If there is one thing that destroys a person's credibility quickly, it is trivializing the horrors of Hussein's Iraq by comparing it to the transgressions of the Americans. Would you rather be forced to lie in a pile of naked men or be hung by a hook, have your eyeballs torn out and your tongue cut off?
"There's also something indecent about any comparison of this with the struggle of the Spanish Republic. If Fallujah is "Guernica," then the U.S. Marines are Herman Goering's Condor Legion. If Abu Ghraib is "Guernica," then the U.S. Army is a part of the original "Axis" between Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. I wonder if any sympathizer of this view would accept its apparent corollary: that the executions and tortures inflicted by the Spanish Communists—crimes now denied by nobody, though Picasso excused them at the time—axiomatically discredit the anti-fascist cause? And this distortion of the record is all the more extraordinary, since a much more natural analogy is close at hand. Gen. Franco's assault on the Spanish Republic—an assault that claimed to be, and was, a rebel "insurgency" against the elected government—consisted of an alliance of fascist parties, religious extremists, and Muslim fighters. It was led by the frightened former oligarchy, and its cause was preached from the pulpit, and its foot-soldiers were Moorish levies from North Africa and "volunteers" from Germany and Italy. How shady it is that our modern leftists and peaceniks can detect fascism absolutely everywhere except when it is actually staring them in the face. The next thing, of course, if we complete the historic analogy, would be for them to sign a pact with it. And this, some of them have already done."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, am I to understand this correctly...we've been convinced that a mushroom cloud was on the horizon if we don't invade this country and depose its leader. It would be appeasement to get out now?

Though it's cute to talk about those crazy people that want to compare us to Saddam it serves only to reinforce the argument that we "stay the course" in Iraq. What you and Hitchens are advocating is the contiuation of the same policies. And, those policies are: lie to America that we are in emminint danger of attack, lie to us that Saddam had weapons of mass distruction (Wilson's trip to Niger, mushroom cloud, mobile chemical plants all proven by the 9-11 commission to not be the case and we new it), the Downing Street Memo's that show that indeed was the policy, try to win the war on the cheap without enough troops to secure the place, ignore over a 1000 years of history of not one western civilization has ever EVER succeded in conquering the populace. Soon after the war began the president and his aides OK'd the use of torture to try and secure useable intelligence. It, of course, backfired. Do you really think that Lindsay England was the one responsible for the sexual dog pile? There are a whole bunch of pictures and movies that that a federal judge has ordered the pentagon to release. They have refused. Rumsfeld has said about those pictures that they would make matters much worse. Lindsay Grahm senator from South Carolina has said that these pictures and photos are of activity of such perversion that he can't bear repeat what he saw except that it was the rape of Ten year old boys by men in american uniforms. The policy of torture does not work, it only makes matters worse.

Abu Graib is not what America stands for. We have the constitution, we have the Geneva conventions, we have the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, we won't defeat anybody by torture. And, we certainly will only destroy our cause and ourselves by shiting on these rules of law that many men and women have sacrificed themselves for.

Abu Graib is not a Nazi extermination camp. Yes, people in the peace crowd make stupid comparisions. But, John McCain knows a little about torture and he says it doesn't work. I tend to think the law he is proposing (to make it illegal to torture) will only continue to see resistance from this incompetent administration.

Fascim is an easily bandied about word. It's real definition is a bit more illusive. But, I worry far less about religious idiots in dirty night shirts trying to bring about the vision of a perfect 14th century islamic revolution than I do about our leaders and citizens that are ready to staple the patriot act over the top of the bill of rights, take a flame thrower to the Geneva conventions because they are inconvenient, or make our Judge Advocate General officers into a new Starr chamber. Couple this with rhetoric from the talking heads that people that don't agree with the president should be shot (courtsey of one of our own congressman) and the word fascism would probably better apply. Fascism is not something that is applied externally through some sort of strong armed leader. It's a mood created within a population that feels it's being persecuted and that it's looking for a "re-birth", it is an essentially corporatist movement that will demand an ellimination of those who disagree and a resurgance of a purely nationalist identity. It will have no strict comparison to a German or Italian style 20th century fascism. What you must realize is that it will grow from an unexpected movement that seems mainstream but takes it's philosophy directly from the most extreme elements of society.

Though Hitchens' points are well taken, I'm much more worried about the demand for one party rule hear at home coupled with this insane desire to destroy the law we've worked so hard to establish. Bin Laden and his ilk will always be able to create terror. We can't always survive the pretzels we tie are selves in responding to its threat.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

correction: J.A.G. judge 'adjudant' general.

It was a bit of a rant last night but,

Reasons for war were an utter known falsehood.

Advocating torture and justifying the loss of civilians like Hitchens does makes me uneasy. That's all.

8:27 AM  

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