Donnerstag, September 07, 2006

European Stupidity...



First of all, this from the Austrian press. It's only in German, but I will translate the key graph. The author is, if I googled correctly, a politician with the OeVP, the conservative party of Austria, but he certainly takes leftist memes and runs with them.

Knapp zwei Monate vor den "midterm-elections" greifen George. W. Bush und Donald Rumsfeld wieder einmal in die Vollen. Während der Pentagonchef die Gegner des Irakkriegs als intellektuell unzurechnungsfähig und moralisch beschränkt brandmarkt, hat der Präsident bei einer Rede am Dienstag ein welthistorisches Potpourri angerichtet, in dem Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden und Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad gleichzeitig zugegen waren.

Just two months before the midterm elections, George W. Buch and Donald Rumsfeld are in full-scale attack. While the head of the Pentagon brands the opponents of the Iraq War as intellectually incompetent and morally restricted, the President set up a historical potpourri in his talk on Tuesday, in which Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden and Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad were all present. (translation mine)

First of all, Rumsfeld didn't use those words. You can read the sentiment into what he did say, but he most certainly didn't use those words. OK, it's an opinion piece and not something serious.

...

Mit seinen pompösen historischen Vergleichen, bei denen das Böseste gerade gut genug ist, lenkt Bush das Schlaglicht der Öffentlichkeit auf den letzten Bereich, in dem ihm die Amerikaner noch Reste von Regierungskompetenz zubilligen, sprich den Kampf gegen den Terror. Das Ganze folgt der banalen Logik von "Viel Feind, viel Ehr", wobei allerdings in diesem Fall zweifelhaft ist, ob sich Feind und Ehr auch in viele Wählerstimmen umsetzen lassen werden.

With his pompous historical comparison, be which the most evil is barely good enough, Bush attempts to distract the public from the last area which Americans give the administration that last of its competence, i.e. the fight against terror. The entire thing follows the banal logic of "many enemies, greater honor", whereby in this case it is more than a little dubious as to whether enemies or honor will result in votes.

Pompous historical comparison? Pompous?

That is absurd. The historical comparison is more than legitimate, indeed it is the correct one, as I've stated here more than once. And the idea of "many enemies, greater honor" is most definitely a European one: here the author is projecting the increasing historical failure of Europe to recognize that war has been declared upon them as something that the President of the United States is using in a cynical ploy to gain votes.

Was den Inhalt des Lenin-Hitler-Vergleichs betrifft, so hat Bush in einem begrenzten Ausmaß Recht damit. Es gibt eine Schicht von überzeugten Djiahdisten, deren Anspruch man in der Tat als totalitär bezeichnen kann und die sich durch unverhandelbare Forderungen (Errichtung eines weltweiten Kalifats) und nicht tolerierbare Mittel (terroristische Anschläge gegen zivile Opfer) charakterisieren.

Looking at the contents of the Lenin-Hiterl comparison, Bush is correct, but only in a limited sense. There is a group of committed Jihadists whose claim can be rightly called totalitarian and which are charachterized by non-negotiable demands (establishment of a world-wide Caliph) and non-acceptable methods (terrorist attacks against civilians).

First the author calls the historical comparison pompous, then he say that Bush is correct. Huh? Completely contradictory in less than a few sentences. Just like many Europeans who simply haven't thought things through.

Allerdings, und hier beginnt der Vergleich schon zu hinken, ist ja auch kein ernst zu nehmender westlicher Politiker je mit dem Ansinnen hervorgetreten, dass man mit Osama bin Laden in ernsthafte Verhandlungen treten sollte (weniger Terroranschläge vonseiten Osamas, dafür mehr fromme Muslime im Westen?)

However, and this is where the comparsion begins to fail, there is no serious western politicians who has ever brought up the idea that one should enter into serious negotiations whth Osama bin laden (fewer terror attacks in exchange for more pious moslems in the West?).

This is rich: because there is no explicit modern-day Neville Chamberlain, then the comparison isn't legitimate. Talk about splitting hairs.The problem isn't that there isn't an explicit Neville Chamberlain out there, but rather there are thousands of implicit Neville Chamberlains, each trying their best to influence public opinion towards appeasement.

Der Vergeich hinkt aber auch deshalb, weil es sich bei den versprengten islamistischen Terroristen um nicht-staatliche Akteure handelt, um einen vollkommen anderen Gegner als weiland bei der Sowjetunion oder bei Nazideutschland. Bushs Lenin- und Hitlervergleiche verraten indirekt auch eine merkwürdige Nostalgie an eine Zeit, als es noch einen benenn- und identifizierbaen Feind gab und man nicht einer gesichtlosen Schar heimtückischer Feinde gegenüberstand, die nur aus ihrer anoymen Finsternis heraus handeln können.Bush und Rumsfelds hinkende historische Vergleiche werden im besseren Fall keinerleit Schaden anrichten, weil wenigstens die gewitzeren amerikanischen Wöhler sie nicht zum Nennwert nehmen werden, sondern als das, was sie in Wahrheit sind: Wahlkampfgetöse.

The comparison is also bad because the groups of islamst terrorists are non-state actors, a completely different kind of opponent as the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. Bush's Lenin and Hitler comparisons show indirectly a kind of curious nostalgy for a time when there was an identiiable enemy and not a faceless horde of sinister enemies, who can only act out of anonymous darkness. Bush and Rumsfelds crippled historical comparison can in the better case not cause any damage, because at least the more clever of the american voters will not take them seriously and see instead what they are in truth: election campaign statements.

Oh, and that is rich as well: because the danger comes from the NGOs of Evil, then Bush's comparison is pompous.

GMAFB: The whole point of Bush's speech was to clearly state and label the enemy as to what they are.

And there is of course then that usual snide European hint of how ignorant and stupid the American voter is (after all, they voted for Bush). If the Europeans had anywhere near the number of college-educated folks in their population, then you wouldn't see the number of jobs that go unfilled in Europe because employers can't find qualified personnel: the unemployment problem in Europe is not one of demand, but rather one of supply: there are too many untrained and unskilled workers who want too much money, and there aren't nearly enough skilled workers. Talk about stupid: I'd dare say it's more likely that the average European wins this one, rather than the average American. Grrrr...

Im schlechteren Fall besteht freilich die Gefahr, dass die Art und das Ausmaß der Gefahr, wie sie für die freien Gesellschaften des Westens heute besteht, eher verunklart als transparent gemacht wird, wenn Politiker aus den obersten Rängen mit dem historischen Erbe billige Wahlkamppropaganda veranstalten.

In the worst case there is the danger that the type and dimension of the danger, as it exists for free societies in the west today, will be more likely muddied rather than made more transparent, when first-rank politicians try to make cheap election-time propaganda by using the historical heritage of a nation.

This is especially rich: because Bush dared to draw a simile, a comparison, he is abusing the historical heritage of a nation? Let's see, where was this sort of commentary when Kerrey was running?


I guess you can give the author some slack: he was, after all, born first in 1975 and has therefore no historical knowledge whatsoever, coming of age after the end of the Cold War. If this is supposed to be the creme of the European crop, dann Servus!


Kommentare:

Anonym hat gesagt…

Don't mind " Der Standard".
Nobody in Austria does.
We only carry it around when we want to impress the girls with how thoughtful we are.
As for Bush and Rumsfeld; when the dust has settled and the gunsmoke blown away, we'll see what's what.

John F. Opie hat gesagt…

Hi -

Thanks for the comment. I've been reading the Standard for my job ever since it came out, since it really is about the least worst of what comes out of Austria in terms of newspapers.

But it has gone downhill.

John