Thursday, November 01, 2007
  Party like it's 1997!

Bush's latest speech, quoted via NRO:

History teaches that underestimating the words of evil, ambitious men is a terrible mistake. In the early 1900s, the world ignored the words of Lenin, as he laid out his plans to launch a Communist revolution in Russia — and the world paid a terrible price. The Soviet Empire he established killed tens of millions, and brought the world to the brink of thermonuclear war.

In the 1920s, the world ignored the words of Hitler, as he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany, take revenge on Europe, and eradicate the Jews — and the world paid a terrible price. His Nazi regime killed millions in the gas chambers, and set the world aflame in war, before it was finally defeated at a terrible cost in lives and treasure.


Yet another false comparison. I must confess, I was fooled by the false comparison between the Marshall Plan and nation-building in Iraq; and I was fooled by the notion that "Democracies don't war", until 2004. (In other words, until writing this blog helped me to organize my thinking better.)

I'm not going to be fooled again.

What's false here?

Well, the first premise is true enough. We didn't pay attention to Lenin before 1920, or Hitler before 1938.

But we did pay attention after their plans came to fruition and affected us directly.

The false part: Osama's war is NOT in the warning stage. We are past the Russian Revolution, past Anschluss, past Pearl Harbor. By now we would already have defeated and killed Osama and his movement, if we were operating in the same way as FDR.

This speech would be quite proper and meaningful in 1997. We needed this speech in 1997. It makes no sense at all in 2007.

= = = = =

Here's an interesting bit of comparative evidence. Were we really so unaware of the danger before Pearl Harbor?

The date is June 19, 1940. At that point the European war had suddenly ramped up. The government (but not the people) of France had surrendered to Hitler the day before; Chamberlain was handing the reins to Churchill; and the Blitzkrieg bombing of London was getting under way. FDR was building up our war machine, but all his public statements were neutral and it's not clear that he really wanted to join the war at that time. Nevertheless, FDR knew how to handle internal dissension. On that day he appointed several prominent pro-war Republicans to his cabinet, thus removing them from consideration as Pres candidates and leaving the remaining R leaders to be marginalized as isolationists when war sentiment grew, as Roosevelt knew it would.

How did the Republicans respond? Here's a one-minute segment from an Elmer Davis CBS newscast on that day.

Those R politicians sound amazingly like today's D politicians, don't they? And I'm sure the team players will neatly switch talking points again when Hillary takes power. Goddamn both teams.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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