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February 22, 2003

Godwin's Law & Iraq

If Godwin's law has any validity, then all the warhawks should just pull back to their corners and abandon their positions, since the whole debate on Iraq has been so infested with Hitler comparisons and the threat of more Czechoslovakias. There are about twenty reasons why a comparison of the situation of the Palestinians to Germany's Jews is more useful than comparing a tiny Iraqi army facing down the US to Hitler's threat to Europe.

See the following among the almost unlimited number that come up in any quick Google search.

"Meine Kampf had been written, Hitler indicated what he had intended to do. Maybe he won't attack, maybe he won't do this or that. Well, there were millions of people dead because of the miscalculations had he been stopped early as he might have been done at minimal cost, minimal cost in lives, but no that wasn't done."- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

"Tyrants respond to toughness. That was true in the 1930s and 1940s, when we failed to respond to tyranny, and it is true today," Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor

"In a way, this is reminiscent of Churchill and the British in the mid-1930s, when he said if we don't deal with Hitler now, we will have to deal with him later. Everybody turned a blind eye, and it cost us a lot later."- Lawrence Eagleburger, Bush Senior Secretary of State

"We all remember the hesitancy of the Allies, who weren't sure whether to attack Hitler. They could have prevented so much. We're in a situation where we have a moral imperative to act and act now."- Solomon Pasi, Bulgarian foreign minister (one of the only Security Council members supporting US)

"The alternative proposed by France is precisely the alternative that led France into disaster and humiliation in World War II. France "gave peace a chance," before and after that conflict began. In violation of her mutual defense treaty with Czechoslovakia, France threw Czechoslovakia to the wolves at the Munich conference in 1938, by agreeing to Hitler's demand that the western portion of that country be turned over to him, without a shot being fired." - Thomas Sowell, conservative columnist

"So gassing Kurds just isn't bad enough. Well, the problem here is that Hitler didn't murder 6 million Jews until well after World War II began. The evidence against Saddam today is far worse in most respects than it was against Hitler in 1938."- Jonah Goldberg, conservative columnist

"As laser-guided missiles surgically dismember his apparatus of power, Saddam Hussein - like Hitler - will lead from his bunker, not from the front. If his past record of misguided military adventures is anything to go by, he will lose."-- Sydney Morning Herald

"The Catholic Churchís ongoing appeasement of Saddam is reminiscent of the cozying up to Adolf Hitler by Pope Pius during World War II.The visit a few days ago of Pope John Paul II to Saddam is a galling repeat of his predecessorís aid and comfort to Hitler."-- Mark Belling, Greater Milwaukee Today

Posted by Nathan at February 22, 2003 06:07 AM

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"i haven't made up my mind yet...war is my last choice...your either with me or against me."
i think the hitler comparison is accurate,especially rumsfelds line...if your talking about gwb.

Posted by: pinkpatudy at February 22, 2003 01:34 PM

Godwin's law? Clearly a deep thinker.

Let's try phrasing another law, shall we? How about "one should ignore all historical precedents and evidence in favor of appearing politically correct to the right crowd - as long as it is at the expense of someone else's life, that is". Wouldn't you be proud to have it dubbed "Newman's Law"? No? Well, cease advocating it.

Also, it would do your credibility a world of good to actually name those "twenty reasons why a comparison of the situation of the Palestinians to Germany's Jews is more useful than comparing a tiny Iraqi army facing down the US to Hitler's threat to Europe" you refer to, instead of obscurely mentioning them. One may be tempted to think they do not exist. Devilish, I know, yet true.

I also clearly notice the lack of any refutations you make to the statements which you mock. Can I take it you accept them all as true? If not, why the silence?

Posted by: Amos at February 23, 2003 02:24 AM

You know what really scares me here? It's not that they distort or falsify history; it's not that they make misleading or false analogies. It's the fact that they really believe what they say. Or how can you explain the huge amount of WW2 analogical BS thrown at us? How could historical education have failed US political and media elites to such extent?

Posted by: Chris K at February 24, 2003 06:51 AM

Or, on a smaller level, how can you explain Amos? I don't think he deserves an answer but here's a quick one anyway:

Historical precedent #1: The Soviet Union
Historical precedent #2: East Germany
Historical precedent #3: Libya
Historical precedent #4: Cuba
Historical precedent #5: Communist China
Historical precedent #6: Vietnam

Lemme see, 5 out of 6 have been resolved with containment, no war whatsoever, the 6th one we had a war, lost, but the dire consequences failed to materialize.

As for that last snarky remark, I don't want to speak for Nathan, but I would be guessing that he most certainly does not "take them all to be true." The sources alone are a who's who of hysterical polemics.

Posted by: doesn't matter at February 24, 2003 09:09 AM

Let's try this comparison: Hitler used Big Lie propaganda techniques to goad his gullible nation into war. remind you of anyone? (think Saddam= Al Quaeda; Nuclear weapons in 6 mos; to be dropped on U.S. by unmanned drones; etc. ad nauseum.)

Posted by: markg at February 24, 2003 02:39 PM

A NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Transcript
February 4, 2002

JIM LEHRER: But if somebody were to look at this budget - forget the money for a while -
just look at what it buys, does it buy anything that different than what we already

DONALD RUMSFELD: Well, I think when you say "that different," it's important to understand that you can - when the Germans transformed their armed forces into the Blitzkrieg, they transformed only about 5 or 10 percent of their force. Everything else was the same, but they transformed the way they used it, the connectivity between aircraft and forces on the ground, the concentration of it in a specific portion of the line, and it - one would not want to transform 100 percent of your forces. You only need to transform a portion.

full transcript:



Posted by: the farmer at February 24, 2003 04:21 PM

My understanding is that the containment policy is being compared to Chamberlain's "appeasment" policies before WWII. The implicit claim is that the latter "caused" WWII.

In fact, the appeasement policy was to allow Germany to retake the Sudetenland and to invade Czechoslovakia without an allied response. The equivalent in today's world would have been to allow Iraq to keep Kuwait. Since we responded to aggression by forcing them out of Kuwait, the analogy is pretty much null.

Furthermore, WWII had another theatre, the Pacific. In this arena, the US response was anything but the "appeasement" of the European theatre. We confronted Japan head-on, embargoed them and attempted to encircle them militarily. Despite that, we still had a war.

Comparisons of Saddam to Hitler seem to mostly be made by people who don't really know their history, so the "condemned to repeat" argument is actually against them.

By the way, many historians believe that one of the root causes of WWII was the flawed Treaty of Versailles after WWI . I'm sure that many future historians will trace Gulf War II to the flawed peace treaty of GW I.

Posted by: mcdruid at February 24, 2003 06:16 PM

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