Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bush in Hungary - a mockery of a true fight for freedom

In 1956 when the Hungarians rose up against their Soviet oppressors and fought for freedom they were promised aid from the US. Voice of America held out hope that indeed, one day, US troops would come help them. No one ever came. The revolution was crushed, the leaders executed.

Bush's visit to Hungary is meant in part to commemorate 1956, 50 years later. It's also obviously meant as an attempt to analogize between 1956's freedom fighters and the war in Iraq - an incredibly strained analogy. And it rubs me the wrong way.

I don't normally criticize what US presidents say or don't say on their state visits. I understand that it's all empty rhetoric - irrespective of who the president is. But in this case, Bush owes the Hungarian nation an apology. He owes an apology on behalf of the United States that is 50 years overdue: an apology for the false hope the US gave the Hungarians. He doesn't owe an apology for the fact that the US troops never came. They were constrained by the Cold War - Hungarians understand that. But the fact that for week after week the promise of help was extended, and the fact that this promise never materialized - that is what he should apologize for.

And don't even get me started on how asinine a comparison between Iraq today and Hungary either in 1956 or 1989 is. It's like comparing carrots and milk duds. The only apt comparison is that the US also owes the Iraqis an apology for promising to get rid of Saddam during the first Gulf War, getting the people to start rising up, and then never delivering on that promise. The current war was a dollar too short and a day too late and unlike during the first Gulf War, wasn't desired by the Iraqi people who had already been burnt once by the empty promises of the US.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In other words what both the US and Iran regularly did to Iraqi Kurds several times over (and what Iraq occasionally did to Iranian Kurds). However, the Hungarians had it much better than the Iraqi Shi'ites after '91 in a manner of speaking, because in that case after instructing Shi'ites to revolt we supplied their oppressors with ammo and helicopter gunships. Kurt Vonnegut has an excellent essay about a brave but short-lived African nation called Biafra, which essentially died the same way.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, the strangest thing isn't the American habit of backstabbing and exploitation. What is inexplicably stupid, or betrays a contempt for the audience, is the strange idea that anyone could compare occupied Hungary and occupied Iraq and not think that remembering the effort to kill and expel the occupiers in one case carries forward to the present in the analogy. Bush is unwittingly applauding the so-called "terrorists" and he apparently thinks nobody will fail to see it his Orwellian and bassackward way.

7:59 PM  

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