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The Blame Industry

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When things go wrong, someone will be blamed.

It s not a question of should, or if it s right or if it s good. It s what will happen. Iraq has gone wrong. Someone will be blamed.

It seems logical to blame the people who led the country to war and the people who led the war into failure. That s not what happens. Logic does not determine who will be blamed. The group that seizes the public relations high ground first determines who will be blamed.

In the Second World War the Germans and Japanese lost so completely that there was no one left to dispute the tale that the Allies told of their own heroism and Axis barbarism. The victors wrote the history. It seemed, in that moment, to be an axiom, automatically true. It s not.

The First World War was different.

The people who lost it, particularly in Germany, were still around.

They, more than anyone else, had a stake in developing and selling a blame story, one that got themselves off the hook and put someone else on it. The military, and their right wing backers, seized on the myth that they had been ˜stabbed in the back. By weak-kneed civilians. You know, liberals. Cosmopolitans. Jews.

Selling the ˜stabbed in the back myth became a major industry in German politics. Many individuals and several parties ran on the claim. Eventually, one of them, Hitler and the National Socialists rose to power.

The First Word War was a long, brutal, largely useless stalemate.

Near the end the British were losing heart. Rather than blame the government, the generals, the tacticians, or the inherent problems of trench warfare, the pro-war right wing had to come up with someone else to blame. One right wing newspaper, The Vigilante, claimed that the English were being undermined by a vast Lesbian conspiracy which they called ˜Cult of the Clitoris.

Britain ended up on the winning side. They need to blame faded away. Which is unfortunate only in that ˜Cult of the Clitoris seems to have disappeared along with it.

This is true I have not made it up. It demonstrates how desperate and strange the need to blame is.

The Democrats led us to victory in World War Two.

As a result, the Republicans appeared to be doomed to eternal irrelevance. They came up with a new theme. The Democrats ï " the liberals, the Cosmopolitans ï " which still referred to homosexuals and Jews ï " had lost Eastern Europe and then lost China.

Not ˜losing Eastern Europe would have meant launching our armies at the Red armies. An orgy of blood-letting that would have rivaled World War II itself. As for China, it was General Eisenhower, a two term Republican president, who said "Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Indeed, we fought the Chinese in Korea. They fought us to a standstill. Fighting them on their home ground would have been like fighting five Korean Wars at once. Or perhaps ten.

Nonetheless, the Republicans turned blaming Democrats for failing to fight into their number one industry.

Then came Vietnam. Democrats got us in. Democrats kept us in. It was ill considered, ill conceived, ill run and profoundly cynical. Kennedy and Johnson deserve blame for it. Johnson got it. Nixon tried killing lots of Vietnamese. And Cambodians. And some Laotians. Then, Nixon finally cut and ran.

The Republican blame industry leapt into action. Nixon was never mentioned. Westmoreland, forgotten. Creighton Abrams non-existent. It was the liberals.

The War in Iraq is:

1. A War of Choice. There was utterly no need for it.

2. A Dishonest War. The reason we were given for going into it were false. Knowingly false.

3. A Fantasy War. This administration had a fantasy about it that bore as much relation to the actuality as a porno film does to an actual relationship.

4. It was badly conceived.

5. It was badly run.

6. George Bush lost it. He started it. He ran it. Congress game him a double ˜0 number and let him wear is commander-in-chief outfit and he had absolute carte blanche to run it however he wanted. Nobody said no to anything. Nobody said, ˜You can only have 150,000 troops. Nobody said, ˜You have to get in and get out. Nobody said, ˜Don t have a postwar plan. Those were his choices.

The Republican blame industry will, when it s over, attempt to blame Democrats, liberals, cosmopolitans, the media and intellectuals. They will say the military was stabbed in the back, not allowed to win, fought with their hands tied, and would have won except that the media undermined them.

Not true. But they will establish it, unless we get there first.

Blame will happen. They need it. Because they re at fault.

If we let them blame us, it will be because we let them get away with it. Then, we ll only have ourselves to blame.
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LARRY BEINHART is the author of SALVATION BOULEVARD,  a major motion picture with Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Marissa Tomei, Ed Harris, and Jim Gaffigan, WAG THE DOG, The LibrarianFog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin  and HOW TO WRITE A (more...)

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