December 14, 2005

History As Propaganda

President Bush gave another speech (this time in the historic American Revolutionary city of Phildelphia) in his highly acclaimed new TV series explaining, defending, and cajoling his way to a new strategic position on achieving VICTORY in Iraq, and, thereby, raising his poll numbers.

In this Philadelphia speech, he took up, yet again, a favorable comparison both he and Rumsfeld have used before (Bush in May 2005 and Rumsfeld in 2003) of the situation in Iraq with our own American Revolution.

It is a comparison borne of the need to inspire support at home for his actions. What better symbol to rally the homeland behind than to whip up patriotic fervor by tying his entire enterprise in Iraq to our own American Revolution and its patriotic and emotional foundation.

Here are a few problems with Bush's historical comparison:

-- Iraq was not a colonial nation ruled by an absent King, but rather a sovereign country whose leadership was toppled by foreign invasion -- and, if anything, we are more like France in this equation, an outsider supporting one fraction in this conflict over another (although I doubt Bush would want to compare us to France, and, of course, France did not overthrow the King and install a bunch of outsiders in power);

-- there was not a long history of internal opposition to Saddam, no growing civil and militant reaction (no Boston Tea Parties), nothing comparable to our decades long and ever-growing dissatisfaction with the King;

-- there are no homegrown leaders in Iraq even remotely comparable to our founding fathers who actually fought for independence -- there simply are no Iraqi leaders comparable to Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Franklin, and Tom Paine;

-- the violent brand of sectarian religious and tribal hatred in Iraq did not exist in early America;

-- and after liberation from the King, during the course of what Bush calls "many difficult challenges," while Americans hashed out the division of power in America, we had clearly defined political units made up of states which had governors, laws, regulations, statutes -- there is nothing comparable in Iraq, other than loosely organized provinces with no real "state's" rights;

-- the armed revolts of early America (like the Shays Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion) were not terrorist acts a la Iraq, characterized by religious sectarian hatreds, but rather revolts by farmers and small mercantalists against ever increasing taxes imposed by the King.

-- and while there was degree of Judeo-Christian content present in the drafting of the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers made it clear that the new nation would not be ruled and governed by religious law in any shape or form, a marked contrast with the Iraqi Constitution which has as its basic interpretational underpinning, the Koran and its religious judicial basis, Sharia.

Bush, ever unapologetic, uses the American Revolution analogy incorrectly and inaccurately. But because there are a sufficient number of Americans who haven't a clue about either American history or Iraqi history, it has a certain salutory effect on his poll numbers.

And that's the point of this whole TV series he has launched.

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