The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Saturday, February 07, 2004

THE FOLLOWING is a response to Joan's comments over in Iberian Notes. I suggest you go there first and read the comments and then read this. I've posted this in the Comments section in Iberian Notes but I had to cut it up to make it fit there.

First, the bit about the most horrible crime in history. Joan, as I recall, World Wars 1 and 2 both started in Europe with no help at all from the United States. The Pacific War, as the Japanese call it, started when Japan attacked China and then attacked the United States because we would not roll over and play dead when the Japanese wanted us to stop supporting China. By August of 1945 everyone knew the Japanese were beaten; even the Japanese knew they were beaten. But being beaten and knowing it is not the same as actually surrendering, and the Japanese military was not going to surrender without taking all of Japan and as many Americans as they could down with them. The US got a foretaste of what was going to happen when we invaded Okinawa in 1945. The Japanese pulled one of their dying to the last man stands on Okinawa, complete with swarms of kamikaze planes, banzai charges, and the like. In addition to all of that, close to 100,000 civilians died because they were simply in the way of the two armies fighting. The Japanese military was already training the civilian population on the Japanese mainland to fight the Americans with sharpened bamboo spears and to strap explosive charges to their bodies, rush into the American lines, and blow themselves up, killing as many Marines and soldiers as they could in the blast. (sounds familiar, don’t it?) And then there was the political situation in the US. If Truman had launched an invasion of Japan, gotten thousands of American boys killed, and then afterwards announced that we had a weapon that would’ve ended the war without getting all those boys killed, then angry mobs would’ve hanged Truman from the nearest streetlight on Pennsylvania Avenue. Remember Churchill’s dictum: in victory, magnanimity. In short, first you win, then you make nice. While they are still capable of resistance they are the enemy and that’s the way they get treated: they get the option of surrendering, whereupon they will be treated with mercy, or getting killed in an orderly and proficient military manner. The decision to use the atomic bomb ended the war in the Pacific months before it would have ended otherwise and saved the lives of countless American military men and Japanese soldiers and civilians. The reason, Joan, that you may never have heard of Limousine Beach is that the massive landing at that Japanese beach never took place; the atomic bombings put the great fight at that beach into the category of history’s might-have-beens.

As for the Cold War, this is purely my opinion, but I think that it was as nearly foreordained as anything in history can be. Stalin wanted a buffer between himself and the West, and he wanted that buffer directly under his control. The United States, on the other hand, did not fight the war to deliver Europe out the hands of one monster in order to deliver the peoples of Eastern Europe into the hands of another. Expecting Truman to do or say nothing while Stalin consolidated his hold on Eastern Europe is foolishness squared. Truman understood that whether he wanted it or not, he was now in a global power struggle with Stalin. Wallace may have thought that playing nice with the Russians may have been the way to go, but fortunately we never got to find out what Wallace and his mob of fellow travelers would have done when confronted with an aggressive Soviet Union. And please pardon me for saying so, Joan, but Europe got to battle the Soviet Union with the welfare state because the American military was there making sure the Soviets didn’t roll over the border with their tanks. The next time the welfare state defeats anyone by whacking them over the head with a stack of income tax forms let me know; that’s something I’d pay good money to see.

Bush=Hitler? Many scary similarities? Well, let’s see. Bush did not get the majority of the popular vote, this is true, but then the way elections are run in the United States it is the vote of the Electoral College that is important, and Bush got the majority there. I’m sorry that this offends your sensibilities, Joan, but that’s the way things are done here and have been done here since 1788. Bush is not the first minority President (John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, and Benjamin Harrison in 1888 all won in the Electoral College and lost the popular vote) and he probably won’t be the last. I keep hearing about Bush’s crushing civil liberties, but I haven’t seen too much evidence of it. The Patriot Act has been used sparingly, and some of its more controversial aspects have not been used at all. The American Library Association has been bellowing like a stuck pig over the provisions concerning libraries, yet those provisions have never been used, and when read closely, aren’t really anything new. The government has always had the power to subpoena library records here, despite the ALA’s trying to prove it’s a new and sinister threat to American liberties. In a similar vein, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals held recently that Jose Padilla, the so called dirty bomber, as an American citizen could not be kept as an enemy combatant just because George W. Bush thinks he is. Civil liberties in the United States remain fairly robust, as always, Joan.

Silencing the political opposition? Joan, this is an election year in the United States. By the time Election Day rolls around George W. Bush will be called an idiot, a moron, a warmonger, and an embarrassing clod everyday of the week and twice on Sundays by the Democrats. Major legislation will be held up in committee for as long as possible in order to make sure Bush gets no credit for it; his judicial nominees might as well hang on to their present jobs because they’re not getting on the federal bench anytime soon; federal bureaucrats who think they ought to have more money in their budgets or that the President is a threat to their nice little bureaucratic kingdoms will be leaking their discontents to the press every chance they get. This is the United States, Joan; the problem is not that the political opposition is being silenced, but rather no one can get them to shut up. Bush this, Bush that, Bush the other thing, when all we are really interested in here are Janet Jackson’s breasts.

It was easy for the Nazis to jump on the Reichstag fire, Joan; they started it. Unless you’re suggesting that Bush knew about 9/11 beforehand then there’s no real comparison. We are not arrogating unto ourselves the right to attack people without provocation; we are warning states that use terrorists as a way of attacking us that they will no longer be able to get away with it, and that if they develop weapons of mass destruction then we reserve the right to defend ourselves before they get a chance to use those weapons against us. If I know someone is coming to kill me then it is stupid to wait for them to get to my house before I defend myself; better to catch them on the way to my house, at a time and a place of my choosing. I do not want the great big hole where Chicago used to be to provide the tangible proof that these people have given a bomb to terrorists. I realize that not everyone sees eye to eye with me on this, but I trust you will excuse my preference for living Americans and unpopularity to being popular amidst a host of dead Americans.


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