Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Stop the Analogy

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld believes critics of the war don't know their history. What the U.S. faces in Iraq is akin to fascism he believes. I don't disagree totally. But then again, Rumsfeld like the rest of the Bush administration likes to travel in generalizations and oversimplifications. The thrust of his argument over time has been this.
In many previous speeches, including some before groups of veterans for whom World War II is a sacred memory, he has compared the government of Saddam Hussein, and the violent resistance since it fell, to the Nazis, and warned explicitly against appeasement there or in the broader campaign against terrorism, comparing it to the error of appeasing Hitler.
But while the analogy between Nazism and Islamism carries some similarities ideologically -- killing Jews, world domination -- Islamism has yet to take over a state with significant economic and military resources to seriously jeopardize world peace. Iran is certainly a problem, but it's no Nazi Germany and I don't think there's a movement to appease Iran or its ambition to go nuclear. Also Ahmadinejad is not Hitler. There has been no Czechoslovakia moment. Besides, Iran has a vibrant pro-democracy movement that loathes the ayatollahs.

Iraq is a problem though. Zarqawi's objective was for militant Islam to overtake Iraq and use it as a base to infect the wider world. The U.S.'s presence in Iraq only made this easier for him to spread his jihadist message throughout Iraq. Arrogantly, Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush administration fail to admit this. Nevertheless, Islamism is a serious enemy to Iraq and it is ideologically similar to fascism, but we must remain steadfast that this is still primarily a political battle for the majority of Iraqis who have yet to decide in favor of Islamism or a militant nationalism or something more liberal and democratic.

Certainly we must kill the undeterable jihadists, but we must be careful not to alienate society in the process. Domestically, Americans must be level-headed and ignore the political red herring being served to them by Rumsfeld that if they criticize the war, they are the new Chamberlains of the 21st century. The more the U.S. military kills Muslims -- whether intentionally or accidentally -- the easier it will be for Islamism to indeed become something as powerful as Nazism.

Sometimes it seems the Bush Administration is determined to be right by pursuing policies that will make them right. Now that's scary stuff.