So Many Hitler’s!

By Pieter Vree, New Oxford Review

“…  NATO is a “done deal,” but Ukraine’s membership isn’t. Though the United States is “obliged” to defend NATO states, we are not required to defend non-NATO states such as Ukraine.

With all due respect to Joseph Kerwin and A. James McAdams, calling Putin the next Hitler is facile and glib, a tired trope trotted out whenever “moral” justification is needed for military action against a sovereign nation. Duplicitous U.S. politicians and their lapdogs in the corporate media have a long record of rallying support for our overseas adventures by presenting them as righteous crusades against evil personified. The most common way is to call our alleged enemies “the next Hitler.”

It started as early as 1955 when The New York Times referred to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser as “Hitler on the Nile.” Why? He’d purchased arms from communist Czechoslovakia. Within a year, our allies Great Britain, France, and Israel invaded Egypt after Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal Company, which was owned primarily by British and French shareholders. The trio withdrew following pressure from the Soviet Union and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower over fears of escalation. (Escalation in any regional conflict could precipitate a “worldwide horror.”)

In 1988 Vernon Walters, U.S. representative to the United Nations, made the same claim against Fidel Castro, saying (in terms echoed by Mr. Kerwin), “I am old enough to remember those who apologized for Hitler,” as well as the cries of horror that arose when what Hitler had done “filtered out to the world.” Walters said “the same cries will go up” when the world is made aware of the horrors perpetrated by Castro.

In November 1990 George H.W. Bush said Saddam Hussein — formerly a close ally of ours — was even worse than the Nazi leader, accusing the president of Iraq of “brutality that I don’t believe Adolf Hitler ever participated in.” (It seems Bush and Walters either forgot or conveniently ignored a little thing historians like to call the Holocaust.) According to the Associated Press, Bush’s remarks were designed to prepare Americans for “any eventuality.” Two months later, Bush authorized a major assault on Iraqi forces in Kuwait, then one of the world’s key oil producers. (Russia, by the way, is the world’s third largest oil producer today.) A Gallant Foundation study found that between August 1990 and February 1991 the U.S. print media compared Hussein to Hitler on 1,035 occasions.

In 1999, in justification of NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, U.S. officials repeatedly compared Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević to Hitler. Even Bill Clinton got in on the act. Not satisfied with Milošević’s defeat, arrest, international trial, and death in a Dutch prison cell (allegedly by heart attack), The Wall Street Journal published an article about Milošević in 2006 titled “A Petty Hitler.”

In March 2003, as his father before him had done, George W. Bush rallied support for attacking Iraq by again comparing Saddam to Hitler, stating that a “policy of appeasement could bring devastation of the kind never seen on the face of the earth.” Ironically, that devastation was wrought not by our appeasement of Saddam but by our invasion of his country: Some 4,500 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, as were 3,800 U.S. contractors, 42,000 Iraqi military and police personnel, and 250,000 Iraqi civilians as a result of that ill-fated decision.

In 2011, during Libya’s civil war, U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham likened Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to Hitler. That same year, Barack Obama authorized a U.S.-led missile attack on Libya aimed at killing Qaddafi.

Two years later, during Syria’s civil war, then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry labeled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the “new Hitler” after Obama had said Assad “must go,” and while the Obama administration was contemplating military intervention in Syria.

Heck, even Putin himself has used this rhetorical device. He claimed he invaded Ukraine to “denazify” that country.

Do you detect a pattern?

So many Hitlers! How to tell who the real one is? Well, the real Adolf Hitler died by his own hand in 1945, shooting himself in the head in the Führerbunker as Allied troops moved into Berlin. Will we see his likes again? Possibly. Is Putin the next Hitler? Probably not. (George Will has compared Putin instead to Otto von Bismarck, “who used three quickly decisive wars — against Denmark in 1864, Austria in 1866 and France in 1870 — to create a unified modern Germany from what had been a loose confederation of states,” Washington Post, Feb. 22.) But the Hitler label fits the purposes of those who want “moral” justification for a military expedition against the leader of a sovereign nation — Putin of Russia, this time around — a label used for the same purposes many times over. Will we never learn?”

Note: The above which I think stands on it’s own was actually a reply to Prof. A. James McAdams’ and Joseph Kerwin’s interesting analyses in the November NOR Letters section which you may read here

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