According to the major news media, President Bush has vetoed a bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress that would put a deadline to end the Iraq War. Ladies and gentlemen, what war?
In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq on pretexts that were merely more elaborate fabrication than the staged "Polish attack" on a German border post in the late summer of 1939. Just as the invasion of Poland ushered in war, the invasion of Iraq was unquestionably an act of war.
As with 1939, in 2003 there was much hand-wringing over it in Europe. The pope pointedly said it did not meet the criteria for a "just war," a dubious concept in any case.
Just as the invasion was clearly warlike, so was the war's ending. Even Bush proclaimed "mission accomplished."
The war ended four years ago.
What the U.S. government is engaged in now is a military occupation, the justification for which is even more questionable than that for the invasion.
Using the parallel I launched at the outset here, it might be argued that Germany was, after all, formally occupied for nearly 50 years.
True, the invasions of Poland in 1939 and Iraq in 2003 were remarkably similar:
-- a major military power attacked a nation that had no reasonable chance of defending itself;
-- the victim was a minor state of recent composition (Poland had not existed for centuries prior to 1918, just as Iraq was invented by the British Foreign Office in 1931);
-- neither attacked country presented a realistic threat to the attacker;
-- the real reasons for the attacks -- other than brutish megalomania -- have remained murky and likely to be debated by historians for years to come;
-- the heads of state of each attacker had come to power through flimsy, pseudo-electoral means;
-- both heads of state embroiled their nation in a pointless "crusades" using rhetoric worthy only of the legend of Nicholas Chauvin.
Yet World War II was vastly dissimilar to the splendid little war of 2003.
There was scarcely a corner of the globe left unaffected by the six-year World War II and by its end the attacker had shed the flower of its leadership on the battlefield. By comparison, the Iraq conflict lasted months, the rest of the world managed to ignore the misdeed and the U.S. Republican elite was too busy trading oil futures to shed a drop of blood to seize Baghdad.
A new elected government has been constituted. No matter how much they may hate one another, Iraqis have demonstrated their near-unanimous desire to see U.S. troops leave.
Besides, the war is over. It has been over for four years.