Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A column in the Toronto Sun presents a comparison I've heard a lot of conservatives make recently:

Comparing U.S. President George Bush with Winston Churchill may seem a stretch. Yet there's a parallel -- not with Churchill of the war years, when he was the "free" world's most admired leader, but with Churchill of the 1930s when he stood alone, warning about the rise of Nazism.

Then, pacifism was rampant in Britain and Europe. Hitler's aggression was rationalized by wishful thinking. Peace at any price.

Except for Churchill. He began warning that the Nazis must be stopped when they occupied the Rhineland in 1936 He urged an alliance of Britain, France and the Soviet Union to stop Hitler's expansion. He was called a warmonger, an enemy of peace, reviled in print and in speeches. Few stood with him.

History has proven Churchill right.

With the U.S. election entering the home stretch, Bush is under the same sort of attacks for his war on terrorism.

The 1930's were the time of a fundamental debate in England and America: aggressive intervention vs. isolationism.

This isn't the debate we're going through right now. No one in the mainstream left makes the claim that the US does not need to wage war against the terrorists. No one in the mainstream left makes any sort of general objections to intervention abroad in protection of international security.

The argument made by virtually everyone on the left is: fighting terrorism does not mean invading random countries. Wishful thinking on the part of the Bush administration aside, there was no collaborative relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq; nor between Iraq and any other group conducting terrorist attacks on Americans. Getting bogged down in urban guerilla warfare in nations that did not sponsor terrorists only hurts the ability of the US to fight the war on terror.

(This argument, despite its apparent simplicity, is willfully misunderstood all the time on the right, and characterized as pacifism or appeasement.)

This is why all the repeated comparisons to Churchill make no sense: it is as if Churchill advocated invading Russia in punishment of Hitler's occupation of the Rhineland. Thats why all the meaningless posturing at the GOP convention - vote for Bush because he is "clear on terrorism" - makes no sense either; I'm glad Bush is enlightened, but his foreign policy and counter-terrorism policies have been a dismal failure.


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