When reminded at today’s press conference that the Iraq War is now reaching the duration of World War II, with no “victory” and no end in sight, the President responded,

BUSH: First of all, this is a different kind of war than a war against the fascists in World War II. We were facing a nation state — two nation states — three nation states in World War II. We were able to find an enemy by locating its ships or aircraft or soldiers on the ground.

But back in August, 2005, Bush was touting the similarities between the Iraq War and World War II, particularly in terms of the moral imperative:

“Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the United States,” Bush said “We will not forget that treachery, and we will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy . . . Like the murderous ideologies of the 20th century, the ideology of terrorism reaches across borders and seeks recruits in every country. So we’re fighting these enemies wherever they hide across the Earth.”

“ . . . our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the
United States.”
  If the President was referring to 9/11 here, which apparently he was, then someone should have reminded him that Iraq was not responsible for that attack.  And,

Reaching back into history, Bush repeatedly cited Roosevelt’s steadfastness as the model for today’s conflict, comparing the Japanese sneak assault on Pearl Harbor in 1941 to the al Qaeda terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. Much as Roosevelt fought pre-Pearl Harbor isolationism, Bush urged against a return to what he called the “pre-9/11 mindset of isolation and retreat.”

So when it was convenient to do so, Bush compared 9/11 to Pearl Harbor, blindly ignoring the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, which made the comparison to Pearl Harbor meaningless.  But Mr. Bush continues to conflate Iraq and the “war against terror” and,  now, when it is convenient to do so, he uses the same conflation to respond to criticism regarding tactical errors.  After all, this is a different kind of war than World War II.  It is a war against terrorism, not a war against a nation-state.  

The two wars are neither morally or tactically equivalent.  The Iraq War did, in fact, begin with the US attack of a sovereign nation-state defined as the enemy, but the attack was unprovoked and unjustified, which was not the case when the US attacked Japan.  And, since the initial US attack, Iraq has been flooded with terrorists,  completing the self-fulfilling prophecy/myth that in Iraq we are fighting a “war against terror” rather than a war against a nation-state, so it is easier than ever to conflate the two.  And, you see, here is the biggest difference between Iraq and World War II.  Once we have transformed the Iraq War from a war against a sovereign country to a “war against terror,” we must realize that a terrorist organization is not a nation-state, and we must recognize “terrorism” as an “ism,” as a tactic, so the battleground is both dispersed and infinite.

There is absolutely no equivalent between the Iraq War and World War II because United States involvement in World War II was provoked and was certainly not unilateral.  And it was always a war against specific enemies, not a war against a tactic or a broadly defined ideology.  If it had been a war against fascism or a war against the tactic of using nuclear weapons, rather than a war against Germany and Japan, it would never have been won. In fact, the Cold War, a war against an “ism” (communism) and against a tactic (the use of nuclear weaponry) was not fought conventionally, and it took more than 40 years to win. And it was not won unilaterally, it was not won with torture and Guantanamos, it was not won by abusing the Constitution, and it was not won with brute force.

Advertisements