BY LEONARD PITTS JR.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack that devastated a U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. And the United States rose in righteous fury, immediately declaring war on Thailand. Because, you know, it was in the same part of the world as Japan and the people kind of looked alike and, besides, those Thais had been getting a little uppity and were due for a smackdown.
Which is not the way it happened, of course, but if Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wants to use World War II allusions to describe the war on terror, I submit that my fantasy comes a lot closer to the truth than his.
Rumsfeld’s fantasy, if you missed it, was shared in a recent speech before the American Legion in Salt Lake City. There, the Sec Def said that critics of the war in Iraq — a designation that now includes most Americans — are like those who thought they could avoid fighting by negotiating with, or “appeasing,” the Nazis in the days before World War II.
The war’s critics — again, that’s the majority of us — need to crack a history book, he thinks. “Once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. But some seem not to have learned history’s lessons.”
Rumsfeld’s rant was but the shrillest of several recent statements by members of the federal regime — Cheney, Rice and the great and powerful Bush himself — in defense of the war in Iraq. Which must mean — hold on, let me check my calendar — yep, there’s an election coming.
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