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The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is up to its old tricks again, showing a penchant for rewriting the history books.
First, the news department decided to revise the facts on the 1957 Central High School crisis, writing in story after story that Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus called out National Guard troops to keep the peace. As court records make clear, Faubus sent in the Guard on specific orders to keep black students out and he failed to use the Guard for peace-keeping purposes when disruptions did occur.
Now the editorial page is doing a repaint on the Iraq war. In a May 31 editorial, under the auspices of lashing out at former president Jimmy Carter for calling George W. Bush the worst president ever in terms of foreign relations, the Dem-Gaz editorial page called the idea that Iraq was our country’s first pre-emptive war a myth.
“The more that myth is repeated without being challenged, the more widespread it grows,” they said.
Sure, it can be argued that America has gone to war for hair-thin and undeniably questionable motives in the past. But the D-G editorial dislocates its shoulder reaching for examples of true pre-emptive American conflicts to justify the historical validity of the Bush Doctrine.
On the Revolutionary War, says the D-G: “That colonial rebellion would last eight long years, and it began as a disagreement over tax policy, not because our security was threatened — directly or indirectly.” (Call that one the “better to live in servitude than die in freedom” excuse … good thing the editors at the D-G weren’t at Independence Hall.)
On the Mexican-American War: “It needn’t have been fought if this country had been willing to recognize Mexican claims.”
On World War II: “(T)he United States was being drawn into that conflict long before war was formally declared.”
Finally, they roll out the W-loving revisionists’ favorite slice of baloney, comparing the Iraq War to World War II: “If only the Western powers had acted against Nazi Germany when it first marched into the Rhineland in 1936 instead of waiting till it was almost too late … But if a united West had acted so promptly, be sure there would have been those who would have called it an immoral, ‘pre-emptive’ war back then, too.” Jeez. Care to go for double points by comparing Saddam’s political prisons to Auschwitz?
Even before the coming of Lord W. and Darth Cheney, there have been times when the United States was lied into war by her leaders (Hearst’s war in Cuba comes to mind, as does Vietnam), and we have carried out pre-emptive strikes on individual targets (Clinton’s 1998 bombing of a Sudanese aspirin plant thought to be cranking out bad medicine for Osama Bin Laden, for instance). To say, however, that George W. Bush was somehow operating in the grand tradition of the United States when he went to full scale war with Iraq — a country that had neither picked America’s pocket nor threatened our security — is at best incredibly short-sighted and possibly idiotic. (Moreover, to try and connect Bush’s invasion of Iraq with the war to stop Hitler — a homicidal dictator bent on the conquest of the world — is nothing less than a willful historical hack job. The only thing World War II and the Iraq War have in common is that at least one of the leaders involved was a mentally unbalanced, megalomaniacal fool with dreams of empire. He’s just on our side this time.)
While even Bush can blame bad intelligence for the Iraq mess, the Democrat-Gazette can make no such claim at this late date. Their editorial is a blatant attempt at muddying one of the only clear things about the war in Iraq: Either out of hubris, stupidity or bad advice, George W. Bush knowingly broke over 200 years of American tradition and made pre-emptive war on another country that posed absolutely no threat to us. For the D-G to try and to convince readers that statement is a myth is a slap in the face not only to truth, but to the simplest — and maybe the most noble — of American ideals: When it comes to war, we don’t pick fights, and we don’t suffer those who do.
In an 1848 letter to his law partner concerning President James K. Polk’s questionable entry into the Mexican-American War, Abraham Lincoln wrote: “Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at his pleasure … If today he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, ‘I see no probability of the British invading us.’ But he will say to you, ‘Be silent; I see it, if you don’t.’”
Call me crazy, but I think Honest Abe’s take on the issue carries a whole lot more weight than that of ol’ Lyin’ George — or his inky apologists.
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