Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's Just Like [insert dictator here]!

One of the most frustrating aspects of the warm up to and the ongoing discussion of the Iraq War is the frequent comparisons to World War II, Hitler, Chamberlain, etc.

In an effort to grab the moral high road, war supporters state that taking no action against Saddam Hussein would have been akin to not tackling Hitler in the 40s.

First of all, we didn't exactly rush to stop Hitler. The rest of Europe had been fighting the forces of the Reich for over two years when we finally stepped up to the plate. I do not want to debate the wisdom of the neutrality and isolation positions of that time, but let's not pretend that we saw a bad man and immediately charged on our white horse.

More importantly, by the time the U.S. became involved in World War II, Hitler's forces had overrun 90% of Europe changing the face of the geo-political map for years to come. In any other modern war this would have been tantamount total victory. In fact, many in France considered the war over and began moving towards life under German rule. Only a stalwart England cleverly supported by the not-so-isolationist after all U.S. prevented Hitler from declaring game over and thumbing his insane little nose at the rest of the world.

Most importantly, Hitler had at his disposal a two million man army equiped with the most modern weapons of the time. This little planet had never seen such power moving across the land. The Wehrmacht swept up entire countries in matters of months if not weeks.

Armed with this incredible power, Hitler directly and indirectly caused the deaths of 20 million people.

No matter how despicable you may find Saddam Hussein, any Hitler comparison is specious at best and insulting at worse.

Comparing modern to historical events can be valuable. The analogies frame complex events in a perspective that most can understand. However, we must have a care with our comparisions. When intransigent ideology causes legitimate comparisons to become gross distortions the first sacrifice will be the truth.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation calls for a cease-fire on overblown historical rhetoric.

"I'm all for learning from history, but I'm also for describing present
differences in contemporary terms. "

I will just add a hearty, Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm just wandering if sunni arabs would equate sadam with hitler of Bush with hitler