Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Jimmy and Chris Do History

Memories seem to be a bit tricky for a former President:

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you the question about—this is going to cause some trouble with people—but as an historian now and studying the Revolutionary War as it was fought out in the South in those last years of the War, insurgency against a powerful British force, do you see any parallels between the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?
CARTER: Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War, more than any other war up until recently, has been the most bloody war we‘ve fought.

Hmm, that doesn't seem right somehow:

American Revolutionary War, 1775-1783, Combat [deaths]: 4,435

U.S. Civil War, 1861-1865, Union: Combat [deaths]: 110,070
Confederate: Combat [deaths]: 74,524

World War I, 1917-1918, Combat [deaths]: 53,513

World War II, 1941-1945, Combat [deaths]: 292,131

Korean War, 1950-1953, Combat [deaths]: 33,651

Vietnam War, 1964-1975, Combat [deaths]: 47,369

"Operation Iraqi Freedom"
As of September 25, 2004, Combat [deaths]: 791

But Jimmy is just getting warmed up:

MATTHEWS: ....Do you think as an historian you would have foreseen, had you been president, the nationalistic fight of those people in Iraq once we got in there?

CARTER: Well, I think almost any reasonable person who knew history would say that you can‘t go into an alien environment and force by rule of arms by forcing the people to adopt a strange concept.

If you don't count Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, that is.

And also when we were so destructive in going into Iraq with tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed....

In fact, we used precision bombs to minimize innocent civilian casualties. Which is why there are still people fighting as insurgents against coalition forces now. We didn't destroy entire cities, as we did in Germany and Japan. There were probably fewer than 10,000 (singular) civilian deaths in Iraq. There is no authorative source for civilian casualties except for:

Since the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown in May, 270 mass graves have been reported. By mid-January, 2004, the number of confirmed sites climbed to fifty-three. Some graves hold a few dozen bodies—their arms lashed together and the bullet holes in the backs of skulls testimony to their execution. Other graves go on for hundreds of meters, densely packed with thousands of bodies.

"We've already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair on November 20 in London.

We're not doing too well with either colonial history or last month's, are we. How about, say, The Carter Years:

MATTHEWS: ....When you look back on when 50 Americans were taking hostage by the Iranian so-called students....

CARTER: Well, from the first day the hostages were taken, I had two major and unshakable goals in mind that never changed. One was that we would protect the integrity and interest of my country, and that every hostage would come home safe and free.

And eventually, after 444 days, we achieved on both those goals.

After a mere 444 days. And after the scary Ronald Reagan had been inaugurated they were freed, you mean.

I wonder how many votes for John Kerry this little performance garnered. Surely there must be some who are nostalgic for the days when we became the Great Satan, pulled the rugs out from under our allies in Iran and Nicaragua, were over our inordinate fear of Communism--though, heck, a guy could sure learn a lot about the Soviet Union in 24 hours in Afghanistan, heh, heh--got to wait in gas lines, watch retail prices rise 13% annually, pay 21% interest rates....

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