This morning’s papers bring us competing interpretations of the past applied to the present. In the Wall Street Journal Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu invokes the inaction of France and England regarding Hitler in the 1930’s to argue that now is the moment to act against Saddam Hussein: “We now know that had the democracies taken pre-emptive action to bring down Hitler’s regime in the 1930s, the worst horrors in history could have been avoided.” On the other hand, Germany’s justice minister, one Ms. Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, argues that it is President Bush and not Saddam Hussein who resembles Hitler: “Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It’s a classic tactic. It’s one that Hitler used.” But isn’t Saddam the guy with the mustache?
And who’s Neville Chamberlain? If Germany’s Janet Reno believes that Bush is Hitler, I wonder if that means she believes that Saddam Hussein is Neville Chamberlain. I vaguely recall that someone once pointed out a photograph of Neville Chamberlain to President Reagan, who truly was a master in the wise use of history for contemporary purposes. Reagan asked, “Where’s the umbrella?”
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
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