Wednesday, August 29, 2007

According to Bush's VFW speech, America--and only America--saved the world.

A great deal of Bush's speech at the VFW National Convention was devoted to discussing America's participation in WW II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. As I read through the whole speech, I was struck by the fact that Bush did not mention one other country that fought in those wars.

This post will focus on WW II. Here are some excerpts from the speech:
[W]hat I've described is the war machine of Imperial Japan in the 1940s, its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and its attempt to impose its empire throughout East Asia. Ultimately, the United States prevailed in World War II[.]
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I recognize that history cannot predict the future with absolute certainty. I understand that. But history does remind us that there are lessons applicable to our time. And we can learn something from history. In Asia, we saw freedom triumph over violent ideologies after the sacrifice of tens of thousands of American lives -- and that freedom has yielded peace for generations.

The American military graveyards across Europe attest to the terrible human cost in the fight against Nazism. They also attest to the triumph of a continent that today is whole, free, and at peace. The advance of freedom in these lands should give us confidence that the hard work we are doing in the Middle East can have the same results we've seen in Asia and elsewhere -- if we show the same perseverance and the same sense of purpose.
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In fact, the war machines of Imperial Japan would be brought down -- brought down by good folks who only months before had been students and farmers and bank clerks and factory hands. Some are in the room today. Others here have been inspired by their fathers and grandfathers and uncles and cousins.

That generation of Americans taught the tyrants a telling lesson: There is no power like the power of freedom and no soldier as strong as a soldier who fights for a free future for his children. And when America's work on the battlefield was done, the victorious children of democracy would help our defeated enemies rebuild, and bring the taste of freedom to millions.
Let me make this clear--what I am about to say is in no way meant to downplay the sacrifice made by all the veterans of WW II, nor do I mean to downplay America's role in WW II. That being said, the sacrifices, great costs paid, and contributions by other countries should be acknowledged. Not once did Bush mention any of our allies from WW II. Not once did he acknowledge their that their homes were ravaged by the war. Not once did he mention that soldiers and civilians of our allies were killed. Not once did he acknowledge that countries other than American helped save the world.

This is precisely the sort of arrogance and shortsightedness that has damaged this country under Bush's administration. I realize that this speech was for the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), meaning that the speech was appropriate for that audience. Our veterans deserve honor and public recognition for what they have done for our country. However, the big problem with this speech is that the VFW was not the sole audience. For every speech Bush gives, the audience is the entire world. And under Bush, this country has pissed off most of the world. As if proof was needed before the Iraq war, this war has definitely showed that America cannot "go it alone." We need allies. We need help. We need friends. The arrogance of the Bush administration in going to war in Iraq and the continuation of such arrogance (along with a refusal to allow other countries to be involved) alienated most of our traditional allies and most other countries who could have provided meaningful help. It has also decreased the chances for securing allies in the Middle East--the very region Bush insists we must now save.

And now Bush keeps up this arrogance with this VFW speech. Acknowledging the price paid and contributions made by our allies in WW II even once could have avoided this arrogance, and such action would not have in any way lessened the importance of what our veterans gave and accomplished. Instead, Bush chose to make it sound like the WW II victory and all post-war success were solely American accomplishments. Why?

It is clear that Bush wanted to try to convince the American public that we have to stay in Iraq, and I guess maybe he and his idiot speech writers thought that a good dose of jingoism would do the trick. That might work on people who still support the war and Bush, but guess what? That ain't the majority of this country.

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