Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bush Looking Like Churchill

President George W. Bush may end up rather Churchillian as history reviews his signature accomplishments. Consider Sir. Winston's words on Iraq just after World War I:

Winston Churchill [the secretary of state for war and air at the time] was particularly keen on chemical weapons, suggesting they be used "against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment". He dismissed objections as "unreasonable". "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes… [to] spread a lively terror…" In today's terms, "the Arab" needed to be shocked and awed. A good gassing might well do the job.

George Bush did his version of shock and awe in 2003 and it's still going. Weeks ago, U.S. planes dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives in a 10 minute period.

What makes an Arab recalcitrant? Is it foreign forces trying to make them into something they're not? After WWI, the British challenge was to craft a country from disparate areas made up of widely different cultural groups.

But what enables an outside group to enforce its will on native peoples? Contempt is a good start. Churchill clearly showed it towards Arabs.

Who is worthy of contempt? The ignorant for one. A World Bank report cited decreasing literacy and school enrollment in the Arab world. A different study found 30% of the 300 million people in the Arab world are illiterate. Thus, around 90 million are candidates for contempt from the educated West.

However, it turns out the United States might be guilty of a similar failure to learn. Prince Andrew lamented the inability of American political leaders to learn from the British experience. Andrew said there had been "occasions when people in the UK would wish that those in responsible positions in the US might listen and learn from our experiences"

The timing of his lamentation is curious, especially given neo-con Paul Wolfowitz's return to the Bush administration. He's chairing the committee advising the Executive on Iran's nuclear program. President Bush is currently working to reign in the recalcitrant Persian, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's President.

The puzzle pieces are coming together: failure to learn, relying on massive force to institute change, and the use of weapons of mass destruction against inferior people possessing widespread ignorance in a country with lots of oil. I feel another Churchill/Bush like event coming.

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