War Nazi Iraq failure of democracy
March 19, 2003 9:55 AM   Subscribe

While I realized there were some parallels, this is getting ridiculous. Is the Bush Administration using early Nazi Germany as a playbook?
posted by quirked at 10:07 AM on March 19, 2003


posted by dhoyt at 10:08 AM on March 19, 2003

Godwin's law isn't invoked until a discussion deteriorates to the point where one participant calls another a nazi. It's not meant to prevent any discussion of the subject of Nazi Germany, I'm afraid.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:15 AM on March 19, 2003

"Godwin's law isn't invoked until a discussion deteriorates to the point where one participant calls another a nazi."

What are you, some kind of anti-Godwin-invocation Nazi?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:21 AM on March 19, 2003

Wow. Great post.

Now where did I put my rock to hide under...
posted by CrazyJub at 10:25 AM on March 19, 2003

Here is the book mentioned near the end. One question I have is, where did this "shock and awe" phrase originate to describe the US military strategy? With the administration or the media? If it was the administration, isn't just a little over-the-top to use a phrase that describes the (admittedly, very effective) techniques of the WWII-era German Army to describe the US's own strategies? Just sayin'.
posted by dragstroke at 10:27 AM on March 19, 2003

Disturbing to those of us who haven't fallen in, lock-and-goosestep, with Bush and his cabal of cowardice. The rest of you will no doubt want to hide your heads (from shame as much as fear) down at Godwin's Beach.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:31 AM on March 19, 2003

The parallels grow each day. Truly a lesson from history to be recognized and to learn from.
posted by nofundy at 10:45 AM on March 19, 2003

“Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators” -- Adolph Hitler

US President George W Bush rallied US troops on Friday, telling them that a war in Iraq would be "not to conquer but to liberate" --BBC News 1/3/03
posted by entropy at 10:55 AM on March 19, 2003

(The Godwin thing was a joke, people. Because comparisons to Hitler had already been made in the article, it seemed DOA. I know that's not an accurate definition of Godwin.)

f_and_m: when you compose your posts, do you ever imagine them read aloud in the voice of James Earl Jones, or perhaps Patrick Stewart, each syllable packed with the maximum of dramatic effect, with a faux-stirring John Williams score in the background? Try reading aloud "Disturbing to those of us who haven't fallen in, lock-and-goosestep, with Bush and his cabal of cowardice" in the voice of Darth Vader and see if you don't giggle, just a little bit, possibly for the first time.
posted by dhoyt at 11:03 AM on March 19, 2003

if anyone should be running a darth vader check on speeches, it's Bush.

He puts the "dur" in der fuhrer.
posted by condour75 at 11:24 AM on March 19, 2003

Re: shock and awe.
posted by muckster at 11:34 AM on March 19, 2003

Where are the mass arrests of communists, socialists, and "persons of middle-eastern ancestry"? Where are the book burnings? The detention camps? The elimination of dissent? The elimination of opposition political parties? Restrictions of civil liberties?

In Hitler's Germany, all these were taking place before the Reichstag fire.

The comparison is stupid.
posted by techgnollogic at 11:44 AM on March 19, 2003

Well the detention camps exist right now, techgnollogic. At Camp X Ray and others like it, dozens of people from all over the world are being detained outside the juristiction of international law. These people are not being given the right to a proper trial or appeal. In some cases their families don't even know what they are being detained for, other than supposedly being involved with terrorism.

There are also currently a disproportionate number of arrests and investigations of people of middle-eastern descent... we've seen enough stories in the press about that. And the restrictions on civil liberties are underway, in a subtle manner, especially with regard to the extent to which governmental organisations can spy on digital traffic.
posted by skylar at 12:26 PM on March 19, 2003

Why do you even bother comparing Camp X-Ray to Nazi detention camps? Three-hundred terrorist combatants versus thousands (and eventually millions) of (eventually murdered) Jews and communists and whoever else Hitler felt threatened by or hatred towards. How does that help your argument? Why not be realistic about opposing fascist impulses and protecting civil liberties and the virtuous foundations of liberal democracy instead of shouting "Bush=Hitler" at the top of your lungs?
posted by techgnollogic at 12:43 PM on March 19, 2003

I hate to appear to defend a US policy I disagree with, but I think one should make a distinction between invasions to “liberate” countries like Austria and Iraq. We can make a case now that the "liberation" of Austria was a lie, but that doesn't mean that all attempts at liberation are of the same ilk. For example, despite the difficulties and mistakes involved, removing the Taliban from Afghanistan could be defended as meaningful liberation. Most people agree Iraq could be better off if freed from Hussein’s documented atrocities. I’m not saying that's something the US should effect asap—separate issue.

Otherwise, very interesting piece; scary parallels. I keep hoping 2004 will hurry up and get here, but will a new election make a difference?
posted by win_k at 12:43 PM on March 19, 2003

Techgnollogic - I am not shouting Bush=Hitler by any means. That would be ridiculous.

What I am willing to say is that the end does not justify the means. For me it is not acceptable to up-end international law, even if the result is to reduce terrorism.

One major problem is that we do not know if all those people in the US detention camps are 'terrorist combatants'. They are not being given passage through proper international legal processes and the evidence against them is not being subject to proper legal scrutiny.

What's more, there's plenty of indication that some of them have been tortured - whether it is the US or other nations at the behest of the US doing the torturing seems irrelevant. Either way torture is most definitely against international law - in fact, the US has admitted that some (two I believe) suffered homicide in the camps, reportedly when torture went too far.

In these instances, we (the US, the UK, anyone else involved in anti-terrorism operations) cannot assume the moral upper hand unless we obey the international laws which we had a stake in creating and which we claim to be defending. If just a handful of those people detained are innocent, then there is no 'lesser of two evils' defence. It is no more moral to detain and torture them illegally because we think they are terrorists than it would be if we believed they were communists or Jews.
posted by skylar at 12:57 PM on March 19, 2003

I keep hoping 2004 will hurry up and get here, but will a new election make a difference?

a year ago, I would have said "no," but nowadays I like to think that for every "terra," "nooklyear," and "iraqian" bush loses 1,000 votes and another 10,000 for every smoking gun against Iraq that proves to be false. perhaps another 750 any time someone bends over backwards twice to connect saddam to bin laden? and 2 votes for every civilian casualty in Iraq!

I guess you could say the bush administration has given me hope for the future.
posted by mcsweetie at 1:09 PM on March 19, 2003

Meanwhile, actual suppression of dissent is going as we speak right now in Cuba:

"Human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez said late Tuesday he had confirmed the detentions of at least 10 dissidents and was trying to confirm reports of at least 20 more being picked up by state security agents."

Of course, this doesn't really count because its actual suppression of dissent. It's much more important to focus on hypothetical suppression that hasn't and won't actually happen here by drawing spurious correlations between Bush and Hitler.

You know, if the people who spew this junk actually believed in what they say, they'd be busy defending the rights of those who are actually being oppressed.
posted by Jos Bleau at 1:14 PM on March 19, 2003

muckster, muchas gracias. Apparently Ullman came up with the phrase and uses it to describe lots of different historical and potential future methods. That makes more sense than what the CD article implies. I kind of figured.
posted by dragstroke at 1:19 PM on March 19, 2003

Dear Citizen: We appreciate your concern. However, we have been compelled by recent events to suspend Internet Statute UR#4 ("Godwin's Law") until further notice. We've already whittled away most of the United States Constitution, so this small change of rules should be of little concern to the population at large. Rest well, America.

(In other words, please consult The FFAQ)
posted by majcher at 1:25 PM on March 19, 2003

Jos Bleau - sigh.

I think you'll find there are a lot of people out there who care about the rights of huge slices of humanity who are being oppressed right across the world... whether it be in Zimbabwe, Colombia, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Saudi Arabia... the list goes on and on.

But in this thread we are talking about the USA in a post-911, 'war against terrorism' age. Hence why it's relevant to talk about oppression which is being carried out by the USA and its agents upon individuals who haven't been proved to be involved in wrongdoing and who are not being allowed through the passages of international law.
posted by skylar at 1:30 PM on March 19, 2003

(In other words, please consult The FFAQ)

posted by dhoyt at 1:47 PM on March 19, 2003

Why are we posting articles from Common Dreams?

I thought there was a consensus that articles from sites like CD, NewsMax, Counter Punch, World Net Daily, IndyMedia, FreeRepublic, etc... are not worth posting?

I guess it only matter it leans to the right, eh?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:04 PM on March 19, 2003

Sadly skylar, you can't find those people at antiwar demonstrations to judge by the signs I saw.

And as this person says:
"Almost everything I write and think on this issue is coloured by having been in Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide - a genocide that happened because the United Nations allowed it to - seeing children with machete scars on their hands where they had put them up to shield their heads, hearing the people's stories, watching bodies being exhumed from mass graves.

It is coloured by having been in southern Africa last year, where a silent holocaust of AIDS and famine is wiping out populations. A baby dies of AIDS every 15 minutes in Botswana. No protest marches for them."

The entire article is at Hitler's Germany with it's alleged parallels to the present. So when these things are actually happening, instead of merely might be happening, you'd think they'd be of interest here.

But according to you they are not.

I guess only posts to the thread that match your own views or confirm your beliefs are to be allowed. Of course, that's not suppression of dissent either.

posted by Jos Bleau at 2:05 PM on March 19, 2003

I spent years in college studying Nazi Germany. When I found this article I was impressed with the breadth of his work. To be sure there are even more fruitful comparisons which can be made.

As far as I can tell Steve and techgnologic you would both benefit from some close reading of Hannah Arendt.

It might make you rethink your rejection of the possibility that our country is building a fascism. The equation is very simple really, substitute evangelical Christianity for German Nationalism and the rest of it all falls neatly into place.

We can always hope Bush is defeated next election. If not and he continues to amass power we are in for a very sad state of affairs by the time 2008 rolls around.
posted by filchyboy at 4:15 PM on March 19, 2003

I seem to recall that the White Rose student movement did not start opposing Hitler until fairly late in the war, after the Battle of Stalingrad. (Also, you know, they were courageous kids and all, I've just had it up to here with the use of the Geschwister Scholl at any opportune moment to talk about resistance to the Nazis. It's nice to die for throwing pamphlets around, and I realize they believed in non-violence, but other people mostly in other countries hid Jews and bombed train-tracks.)

I also thought that Chamberlain's "Peace for Our Time" was uttered after the Munich conference on the fate of Czechoslovakia, not the Anschluss of Austria.

Also, that Hitler's troops marching into Austria were indeed met with huge crowds of supporters.

There may be parallels. Very scary parallels.
But if you are going to make them, you ought to make them with crystal clear historical accuracy.

But more important than the technologic's false objection (because indeed Hitler's extraordinary powers stemmed from emergency legislation put in after the Reichstagsbrand), the US is not really a country where political murder is accepted.

Maybe if Weimar Germany had showed some concern when Walther Rathenau was assassinated, Hitler wouldn't have been able to get away with his "Night of the Long Knives."

Oh and that reminds me, we don't have para-military organizations like the SA or its communist counterpart fighting eachother in the streets, either.

That's the thing about complex causes and analogies...you get to try to tailor the old circumstances to best match those of today and hope no one calls you on your inaccuracies or glaring omissions from your list of 'what happened last time'.
posted by jann at 7:01 PM on March 19, 2003

C'mon, Jos Bleau -- a lot of people involved in the antiwar movement are deeply involved in international human rights work. It's ridiculous to assume that to be concerned about domestic politics implies a disregard for international atrocities -- did you expect people at antiwar demonstrations to wear girl scout-style badges for each cause they support? Did you ask them all if they sent a check to Amnesty last month, or to Human Rights Watch? Also, to claim "suppression" because someone on Metafilter disagrees with you is patently silly. Poor you.

Back to the topic of the thread: stating that the analogy is imperfect is both correct and obvious. Surely we can, as a species, attempt to learn from the political and social mistakes we've made without requiring an exact mapping. And surely it's wise to take time to consider our trajectory in this perspective before we paint ourselves into a very nasty legislative and military corner.
posted by blissbat at 7:30 PM on March 19, 2003

This is ridiculous because the US does not in any way resemble post-WWI Germany. It has not been economically decimated, it hasn't seen regular, disorientating shifts in power between parties with no authority, it hasn't seen street fighting between extremist factions, it hasn't been humiliated by war, it doesn't have a history of deep-seated racism against the target group (Arabs) and there isn't a group of intellectuals defending fascism, as there was in post-WWI Europe. All of these things were instrumental in letting a nutter like Hitler get as far as he did. Do you really think Bush could suspend elections and get away with it? I don't think so.

Where are the book burnings?

Well, it's close..
posted by Summer at 3:14 AM on March 20, 2003

This is ridiculous because the US does not in any way resemble post-WWI Germany.

Indeed, and neither does Iraq, so I guess we should strike the 'appeasment' comparisons...?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:12 AM on March 21, 2003

« Older Red Alert   |   Banned commercial Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments