Friday, January 11, 2008

Tears of a Clown: Bush Reminisces on Auschwitz

"God bless Israel, [signed] George Bush."

Jerusalem, Palestine
--This visit by President George W. Bush to Israel's Holocaust memorial had a peculiar ring of familiarity to it. During Ronald Reagan's second term-of-office, he visited a German war dead cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany in 1985. It was one of those embarrassing moments as an American that one would equate with Bush, not Reagan. That's because people tend to forget how much of a clown Reagan was. Even we, the public, had advance warning that there were Waffen-SS soldiers buried at the bone yard, but Reagan went anyway. It was truly an appalling moment to be American. How is this the same you're asking? The lack of any sense of irony in the president, naturally.

Purportedly, Bush was teary-eyed today in his hour-long visit to the memorial to the Shoah and its "Hall of Remembrance." This was all easily written-off as another silly ass PR photo junket (wrapped inside an junket, inside an enigma of an administration). This wasn't enough for George W. Bush, oh no, because genuine brutish stupidity has no sense of irony, and therefore parades itself to anyone and everyone it can. Amazingly, and in-character, President George W. Bush decided that he wanted to spread the message of vengeance once again, but with a curiously garbled irrationality only he can muster: "We should have bombed it [Auschwitz]." Would it have worked? This wasn't clear from the president's incoherent message. "Bomb Auschwitz?" I thought. "Wouldn't that have killed the inmates?" There I went again, using logic.

Not being a total idiot (mostly a dry-drunk), Bush had connections that allowed the peculiarly American words to be voiced (in Hebrew) by the chairman of the memorial, Avner Shalev in an anecdote about the president and his Secretary of State, Ms. Rice having a discussion on the subject on the Air Force One flight to Jerusalem. These folks understand vengeance well, old testament style-and-all. Yet, there's a problem with the president's logic--there's an absence of it. A number of Israeli holocaust scholars have some quibbles with the president's readin'-n'-learnin' on history:
[Noted Israeli holocaust scholar Tom] Segev said the question of a bombing was not so clear cut, noting that it wasn't certain the United States had the ability to carry out such an operation. In a response to a request that U.S. forces bomb Auschwitz and the rail lines, John J. McCloy, Roosevelt's assistant secretary of war, laid out the U.S. rationale for inaction. "Such an operation could be executed only by the diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations elsewhere and would in any case be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not be warrant use of our resources," he wrote in an Aug. 14, 1944, letter. (AP, 01.11.2008,
And so there's the "Bush II" doctrine on foreign policy when you have a problem to deal with--bomb em.' Worry about the results later. How does any of this make him different from all other U.S. presidents? Hardly at all. Bill Clinton bombed Iraq (causing the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children as a result) and the Balkans repeatedly for most of his time in office. Reagan bombed Panama, Grenada, Libya, etc. . They like things that go "boom" alongside brown people, it's a presidential thing--you wouldn't understand.

In other words, George W. Bush was convinced that bombing Auschwitz was such a good idea, he had it related to the chairman to deliver to the Israeli and world press. He is likely to have insisted on it as a good idea to harp on, that he "cares" about people, especially when they're of strategic interest to the State Department, even if they've been dead for 63 years. Hey, it's worked for the right-wingers in Israel. Yet, it's very likely that bombing Auschwitz (never mind all the other death camps) not only wouldn't have worked, but that tens-of-thousands of Jewish refugees and inmates of the camp would have been killed in the process. Oh yeah, and several thousand Soviet P.O.W.s, European Gypsies, homosexuals, women, children, interned Poles and German dissidents and leftists, and-on-and-on. In other words, not only weren't the logistics there to pull-it-off correctly during WWII, but it was even money that the end result would have been a human rights catastrophe resembling Iraq. Why does it seem to me that nobody will be able to convince Bush otherwise?

Bush isn't not alone, however, and the most extremist voices on this issue, naturally, emanate from American Jewish scholars. One can only imagine why, they being in-league with similar extremists in Israel who hold the same views on maintaining the status quo in Palestine. What we have here is a tweaking of the iconography, the final days of "yeah, but the holocaust" to justify inhuman policies towards Palestinians. The saddest part is that these extremists are in-the-minority in Israel and the United States, they just have big mouths and hijacked the bully pulpit of the Shoah decades ago. Nothing of any lasting value will emerge from this "Middle East Peace tour," nothing at all. The client state will mouth what its master wishes to hear (for now), but sometimes it wags its owner. If the president wasn't pathological, he might have shed a few tears over the bodies of his own victims...but that would require a sense of irony.