Apparently President Bush is going to couch his escalation in Iraq as an appeal to “sacrifice.” Olbermann has already ridiculed the notion, but the best retort does not come from an American.
Bush’s rhetoric recalls another incompetent war leader whom he greatly resembles: Neville Chamberlain. Like Chamberlain, Bush comes from a prominent political family and has done nothing in real life to merit his position. Like Chamberlain, Bush regularly puts party before country, and he sees his party as the only legitimate governing force. And like Chamberlain, Bush deserves the response given to him in The Norway Debate by former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, the country’s leader during the First World War, who knew a thing or two about politics during wartime:
It is not a question of who are the Prime Minister’s friends. It is a far bigger issue. …He [Chamberlain] has appealed for sacrifice. The nation is prepared for every sacrifice so long as it has leadership. The Prime Minister must remember that he has met this foe of ours in peace and in war and he always has been worsted. I say solemnly that the Prime Minister should give an example of sacrifice because there is nothing which can contribute more to victory in this war than that he should sacrifice the seals of office.
If Bush wants to call for sacrifice, he might want to start by looking in the mirror.
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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