Speaking yesterday at the Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs, CO, President Bush yet again compared the U.S. occupation of Iraq to the post-WWII rebuilding period in Germany and Japan. Though the White House has repeatedly compared the war in Iraq to the last “Good War” (and usually avoided the obvious comparison to Vietnam), President Bush did acknowledge at least one key difference in his speech.
The president acknowledged one of the many differences between the global conflict six decades ago and the ones that began under his watch: today’s wars are not over.
“In Germany and Japan, the work of rebuilding took place in relative quiet,” Bush said. “Today we’re helping emerging democracies rebuild under fire from terrorist networks and state sponsors of terror. This is a difficult and unprecedented task, and we’re learning as we go.”
Now rewind to the summer of 2003, when the Iraqi insurgency first began taking off. At that time, both then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly compared the Iraq occupation to the post-WWII rebuilding period. But unlike Bush yesterday, both Rice and Rumsfeld made the comparison to explicitly argue that the Allied occupation of Germany was violent and tumultuous — just like Iraq.
Consider these quotes compiled in an article from Slate at the time:
“There is an understandable tendency to look back on America’s experience in postwar Germany and see only the successes,” [Rice] told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 25. “But as some of you here today surely remember, the road we traveled was very difficult. 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS officers—called ‘werewolves’—engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them—much like today’s Baathist and Fedayeen remnants.”
Speaking to the same group on the same day, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld noted,
One group of those dead-enders was known as “werewolves.” They and other Nazi regime remnants targeted Allied soldiers, and they targeted Germans who cooperated with the Allied forces. Mayors were assassinated including the American-appointed mayor of Aachen, the first major German city to be liberated. Children as young as 10 were used as snipers, radio broadcasts, and leaflets warned Germans not to collaborate with the Allies. They plotted sabotage of factories, power plants, rail lines. They blew up police stations and government buildings, and they destroyed stocks of art and antiques that were stored by the Berlin Museum. Does this sound familiar?
Of course, both Rice and Rumsfeld were basing their comparisons on phony history that suited them at the times.
As the Slate article notes, “the total number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Germany — and Japan, Haiti, and the two Balkan cases — was zero.”
The fact that the Bush administration is no longer drawing attention to the supposed violent similarities between the German and Iraq occupations is merely an admission that the argument is untenable and that the comparison was based on fictional history (i.e. lies).