REWRITING HISTORY: A FAVORITE REPUBLICAN PAST-TIME

WHEN OBAMA DECIDED TO PULL TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ

So for the fourth time in two days, including just this morning from Donald Trump and Mike Pence (R-IN) at the Republican National Convention, I’ve heard this “theme” that because Obama pulled all of the U.S. troops out of Iraq we now have ISIS in the Middle East.  It seems as if this "meme" is gong to be a mainstay of Donald Trump's campaign.  And, as is invariably the case, I have yet to hear a single news reporter take any of the speakers who mouth this lie to task for it.  This is not one of those issues where the press needs to be “fair and balanced” and must default to “there are two sides to every story.”   In this case there is no “fair and balanced” analysis to this outright lie and there is no alternative narrative to draw upon.  It is simply untrue. (The chart above shows that the drawdown of U.S. troops began in 2007.) 

The facts of this matter are that the Iraqi government, then led by Houri al-Maliki (who, in fact, has more to do with the creation and rise of ISIS than any other single human being on the planet) entered into a joint “Status of Forces Agreement” which dictated that all troops be out of Iraq by 2011.  George W. Bush signed this agreement on behalf of the U.S. in 2008.  One reason for this troop withdrawal was Maliki’s refusal to grant U.S. troops in Iraq “hold harmless status,” i.e. exempting U.S. soldiers from prosecution under Iraq’s police, army and judiciary, an almost universal agreement for foreign troops who are in a nation at the behest of the requesting nation.   Obama, in drawing down U.S. troops in Iraq, was living up to the terms of an international agreement that was forged between the U.S. and Iraq during the Bush Administration.  

Obama has requested of Congress, a declaration of war against ISIS, an action Congress has simply refused to do.   Congress could also have passed a resolution to advise Obama to slow or stop the troop withdrawal.  They did not.  In fact, they remained silent.  

So when Donald Trump blames Obama for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, he is either mistaking the incontrovertible facts of why and how this happened or he is just lying.  In The Donald’s case, it is almost impossible to discern whether he is making things up, mistaken or just plain lying.  Is this the kind of character that we want as our President?  

Along the same lines, rewriting history, I came across an article in the NYT this morning about Jews in the Netherlands during World War II.  When we think of Holland and Amsterdam during the war, what comes to mind is “The Diary of Anne Frank” that epic story of a young girl hidden from the Nazi’s in a protector’s attic.  Until, of course, she and her family were discovered, sent to a concentration camp where they died.

But apparently the heroics displayed by Amsterdam’s citizens, isn’t the whole story of the fate of Holland’s Jews.  Two recent events in Amsterdam, the designation of a location for a Holocaust memorial wall and the opening of a National Holocaust Museum, have also re-opened the history books on the actions of the Netherlands during World War II.  While the world wide popularity of “The Diary of Anne Frank” has held sway over the narrative in Holland during Nazi occupation since it was published in 1947, the reality of Holland during that time is remarkably at odds with the “protective” nature of the Dutch that the book has promoted.

In fact, between 75% and 80% of Holland’s Jews were killed during the War.  In neighboring Belgium, the figure was 40% and it was 25% in France.  In fact, Holland’s 150,000 Jews living there before the War were reduced to 15,000 when a census was taken in 1947.  But even in Holland these facts are still not well known 70 years later.   With the publicity accompanying the Jewish memorial projects, the common view that the Dutch were protective of their Jewish citizens and that the Dutch Resistance was more effective than it actually was, a widely held narrative in both cases, is starting to unravel. 

“It is certainly not true that the Dutch were all protective of the Jews” says Joel J. Cahen, the director of the National Holocaust Museum project.  “It’s also true that the Dutch were not all terrible. Anne Frank is one image of Holland, very much promoted by the Dutch.  After the war, the Resistance was immediately glorified.  We heard a lot about the Resistance, and a little about what happened to the Jews.”

These two examples of history re-written exemplify opposite ends of the re-writing spectrum.  In the case of the Dutch treatment of Jews during Nazi occupation, this re-write is an attempt to counter a popular and mistaken narrative with the facts of the historical situation.  And while such an effort might bring discomfort to the Dutch people, it is ultimately a step towards honesty, integrity and a more realistic picture of Holland’s history.  These rewrites that augment popular historical narratives are, in my view, positive steps much like the revision of our own historical relations with Native Americans that has undergone a rather startling re-write towards historical accuracy over the past couple of decades.

But the re-write of history that blames Obama for our troop withdrawal from Iraq and the rise of ISIS, is a mere political ploy designed not to enlighten but, in fact, to obscure and mislead.  And this effort is not only disingenuous but serves only as a political “talking point.”   This false re-write seems a quite intentional rewriting of history to benefit a political candidate's election prospects.  It will be a wildly popular narrative among The Donald's supporters who are universally united in their foaming- at-the-mouth hatred for Obama.  But it simply isn't true.  It is, in the end, propaganda not unlike the propaganda of Nazi Germany that brought us the Holocaust. 



But apparently The Donald is not much of a history buff.  Or maybe he is but puts his own self-interests above those of the country.         

And so it goes!

PS:  Just came across this latest Donald Trump idiocy:

Donald Trump has moved on from the birther movement to float another equally reckless conspiracy theory about President Barack Obama. 
After three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the president said that “there is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None.” He made similar comments after five officers were killed in Dallas on July 7, calling the attack “vicious, calculated and despicable.” He also flew to Dallas on Tuesday to speak at a memorial for the fallen officers.
Still, Trump questioned the legitimacy of Obama’s grief and concern.
“I watched the president, and sometimes the words are okay. But you just look at the body language and there’s something going on. Look, there’s something going on,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” on Monday.
“There’s just bad feeling,” he said.
Trump was responding to the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association’s claim that Obama “has blood on his hands” because he also condemned the police shootings of two African-American men.
“The president of the United States validated a false narrative and the nonsense that Black Lives Matter and the media are pressing out there to the public,” Steve Loomis said. “He validated with his very divisive statements and now we see an escalation.”
For months, conservatives have said that the president’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired some kind of anti-police mentality. 
Will the media remain silent over this unjustified insult against the President?  My bet is a resounding "YES!"

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