Monday, June 16, 2008

Winston Churchill can suck my dick.


At work today I saw the new issue of Newsweek staring out at me like a grinning death mask. The article within is a typical Evan Thomas snorefest about how comparisons of contemporary world politics to the Munich agreement between Chamberlain and Hitler are ahistorical and fatuous. That's true as far as it goes, and important to remember as John McCain continues his mushheaded analogizing from coast to coast. What chapped my hindquarters was this blithe invocation of Churchill as a symbol of political wisdom, especially given the fact that almost all of the foreign policy debates currently raging in this election are over the Middle East.
Because nobody in this goddamn country (including members of the supposed elite media) can remember more than one fact about any given historical figure or event, Winston Churchill is known exclusively for his stiff-spined opposition to Hitler. The man had an incredibly long, varied career in British politics, and for some crazy reason, the part of his career that is most directly relevant to the current geopolitical clusterfuck has completely dissapeared from memory. After World War One, the defeated Ottoman empire was portioned out between the victorious Entente powers. France got what is now Syria, while the British gained control of Palestine, Jordan, and what is now Iraq, which was essentially invented by the British by unifying three Ottoman provinces under an imposed Hashemite king.
Then, as now, British troops occupied the territory now called "Iraq" in order to prop up a handpicked ruler. Winston Churchill was instrumental in that occcupation, first as minister of war and air power, then as Colonial Secretary. Then, as now, Iraqis responded to the occupation of their land by a foreign army with violent uprisings. The British, lead by Churchill, responded with a campaign of terror that was even more naked in its brutality than shock and awe. Not only were villages burned to the ground and civilians shot, but Churchill, a devout fan of the air power as a tool for maintaing imperial tranquility, authorized a campaign of bombing, including the dropping of poison gas, on recalcitrant tribesmen. During the early 20s, air raids, sometimes featuring mustard gas bombs, were visited on rebellious Iraqi villages and cities, as well as peaceful communities that had committed to capital crime of refusing to pay taxes to the regime. Some weak sisters in the colonial office objected to the practice, but Churchill was adamant: "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes."
So, on the most pressing foreign policy question facing a prospective American president: what to do about the occupation of Iraq, we don't have to resort to speculation when considering what Winston would do. We know exactly what he did! It's easy to imagine him proudly puffing on a stogie while advising Bush to deal with the Mahdi army by dropping a few tons of mustard gas on Sadr city to keep the wogs in line.
The reason Newsweek, in their haste to play the guardian of historical truth, has displayed, once again, the horrifying blind spots that plague established media and ensure that any halfway ambitious politician who wants to start a war will always be able to count on the press as an eager accessory. In any given policy debate, you can guarantee that no one will be able to keep more than one historical fact in their heads at any one moment. So, whenever the sacred name of Churchill has been invoked during the debate over Iraq, from before the war until now, it has always been in the context of Munch, Appeasement, and how much of a douchebag pussy Neville Chamberlain was for not standing up to Hitler, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a mustache. AT NO POINT did any of the elite media types use the introduction of Churchill into the debate to remind people that a Western country invading and occupying Iraq in order to secure "stability" and "democracy" (wink) was not a new development. In fact, the reaction of the Iraqi people to a foreign occupation that proclaimed itself to be a force of liberation was easily predictable: it had already happened. Also predictable is the reaction of an Imperial power who sees its well intentioned gift of liberty rejected: it drops bombs. In 1920, they were filled with mustard gas. In 2005, they were filled with napalm and white phosperous. That's called progress.

2 Comments:

Blogger Weevil said...

Good to see this blog up and running again...2008 should generate lots of material?

BTW, you interested in a Brewer game this August/September? Let's catch a game or two.

8:54 AM  
Blogger matthew christman said...

Yes. Yes I am.

4:48 PM  

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