by George Beres
(Swans - September 26, 2005) From my earliest days as an Illinois schoolboy, I learned tolerance is an attitude encouraged in civilized places, part of a good and caring way of life.
I no longer fully accept that. I've learned there sometimes is a flip side to tolerance. It means recognizing there are some things we should not tolerate -- that if we do, we risk parts of life we value. More than that, we risk life.
We see that in our nation's contrasting behavior of recent years. We responded in what once was Yugoslavia, refusing to tolerate efforts of Christian Serbs to annihilate Muslim Bosnians. Yet we have stood by, not challenging genocidal behavior among Africans, and supporting Israel's continued aggression against Palestine.
It seemed easier to see in the early 1940s, when we entered World War II supposedly because we no longer could tolerate murder by the original "axis" -- Germany, Japan and Italy. That wasn't the case, though President Franklin Roosevelt unsuccessfully urged us to enter the fray. Isolationists kept us out until Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor left no alternative.
That war's scenario is instructive as we evaluate how it is we today can be the nation that invades in pursuit of war. Parallels between those who created World War II and the one we now pursue in the Middle East should disturb us.
Those of us old enough to have personal memories of World War II can't forget the four top rogues of the Nazi German effort to dominate the world: the chief, Adolph Hitler; Herman Goering, head of the Luftwaffe that brought death to many; Heinrich Himmler, head of the Gestapo that flexed the Nazi military arm, and Joseph Goebbels, the first great propagandist.
They've long been dead. But their specialities survive today in what we and the rest of the world once would have thought a most unlikely place: civilian leadership of the US war machine. There are some Americans, still tolerant of their leaders' behavior, who call that a slander. Their view would have been shared once by our many friends in Europe. But because they are friends, they risk telling the unhappy truth to our face.
Does George Bush resemble Hitler? Hardly. He lacks his mustache. He does not massacre innocent Jews. But he collaborates with Israeli militarists to do away with Palestinians. Maybe not the same thing. But the same result. And he swaggers us into battle while he remains safe, but our childrens' blood is spilled without reason.
Dick Cheney doesn't pilot a plane, let alone command an air force. But like Goering, he is expert at wasting national resources while indulging a military-industrial complex that followed Germany's by a decade.
Does Donald Rumsfeld maintain a Gestapo like Hitler's? No, though he repeatedly shows potential for developing one. He has other ways of trying to flex a military muscle, yet it still gets deflated in the dangerous Iraqi guerilla terrain.
That leaves us Karl Rove, the peer of Goebbels in the nasty skill of being able to make open lies sound like patriotic truths. Goebbels did not fool with public relations. He knew the Nazi technique was to give orders, and have them obeyed. Rove has blanketed the Bush administration with P.R., but its ability to fool a gullible nation has begun to fall short.
The Nazi era ended in the blasted bunkers of Berlin in 1945. The Bush era appears headed for a less violent end, as a frustrated US news media no longer seems tolerant of Bush lies orchestrated by Rove. That should be the beginning of the end for the Bush administration.
If Rove escapes? Then chances are good for emergence of a fascist state here that would do Adolph proud.