Saturday, June 23, 2007

Stabbed in the back: Who lost Iraq?

Kevin Drum says “stabbed-in-the-back” arguments are starting to appear in the upcoming debate over who lost Iraq.

Here is what Kevin Baker was quoted on this blog last summer as saying
Every state must have its enemies. Great powers must have especially monstrous foes. Above all, these foes must arise from within, for national pride does not admit that a great nation can be defeated by any outside force. That is why, though its origins are elsewhere, the stab in the back has become the sustaining myth of modern American nationalism. Since the end of World War II it has been the device by which the American right wing has both revitalized itself and repeatedly avoided responsibility for its own worst blunders. Indeed, the right has distilled its tale of betrayal into a formula: Advocate some momentarily popular but reckless policy. Deny culpability when that policy is exposed as disastrous. Blame the disaster on internal enemies who hate America. Repeat, always making sure to increase the number of internal enemies.

As the United States staggers past the third anniversary of its misadventure in Iraq, the dagger is already poised, the myth is already being perpetuated. …
Baker traces the popularity of the stabbed-in-the-back myth to story of Siegfried who was assassinated by Hagen – a story popularized by Wagner in opera. You can read the 7/15/06 Sisyphus post on “Stabbed in the back” here.

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