Belaboring the Obvious

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Moral Equivalent of WWII...

... or some such nonsense. At the end of last August, George Bush likened the war in Iraq to the moral equivalent of WWII. Bush and Company may wish to liken the two conflicts, if only to convince the American public that he's the moral equivalent of FDR. (Bush's PR flacks have been rummaging around in the trunk containing the reputations of other Presidents in hope of finding some costume which will fit Bush as well as the flight suit he wore on "Mission Accomplished" day, and have found that FDR's suit is entirely too large for Dubya, and Lincoln's entirely too tall and straight. Washington's is entirely too quaint, Jefferson's too tight and confining for a modern-day corporate capitalist, and Truman's just isn't sufficiently Armani for the current occupant of the White House.)

Not long after 9/11, Bush exhorted everyone to buy more junk, visit Disney World (his brother, Jeb, would certainly appreciate the tax receipts from that trade), and, in so many words, echoed his father's failed reelection campaign ("don't worry, be happy"). Pundits slightly off the reservation wondered about outmoded conceits such as "shared sacrifice," and were promptly relegated to the dustbin. This war would be all about not sacrificing.

But, just to enlighten the youngsters (or refresh some memories), WWII was a much bigger deal, especially as regards gasoline. Rationing of that commodity began in 1942, and continued for the rest of the war. Lowly "A" card holders were not essential to the war effort, and therefore had the least juice, and got the least juice. Lucky "C" holders were important people. But, they still had to live within the rationing system.

As Bush and Cronies have jacked up the rhetoric against Iran, and as Iraqi oil production continues to decline, oil prices have once again risen, this time above $70/bbl. And, yet, there's no wartime rationing. Well, c'mon, if it's wartime, according to Bush, why aren't we all getting into the spirit of keeping the economy going by keeping prices under control through limited consumption? We're at war on terror, fer god's sake (even if that war is only by fiat declaration of Bush himself). This war of Bush's imagination will last forever (or until the end of Bush's and/or another good Republican's term in office, whichever comes first). Shouldn't there be some gas rationing in time of strife to ensure the energy security of the country? Shared sacrifice, and all that?

There are no twelve million of friends and family in uniform today. There are no scrap metal and rubber drives, pitching in the broken aluminum pots and pans for the war effort. There are no war bond drives (with Ronald Reagan's practiced lines uttered in newsreels showing in thousands of theaters nationwide). And, there is no gasoline rationing.

There is no foreseeable end to this manic and imaginary war on terrorism and the damage it has promoted, internally and externally. There is only a progressive assumption of rule and right by George W. Bush and his friends, and a coincident diminishment of the basic rule of law. The only desperation evident is of that in the political calculations of the Republicans to retain one-party rule.

Without a clearly-stated military objective and an end to war which is both predictable and definable, Bush and his soulmates cannot expect to wear the mantle of prior presidents who were willing to state those objectives and ends.

A proclamation of neverending war means neverending uncertainty, and all people, including Americans, eventually grow weary of an interminable uncertainty imposed from above. Without a clear cause and a defined end to war, there is no impetus for sacrifice, nor is there a belief that sacrifice will end the war.


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