It was inevitable. Agree or not with what our administration does in Iraq, it was a done deal that eventually the fight would be compared to World War II. On a day when the President is speaking to a large veterans’ association, I see in his speech a gross mischaracterization of the horrors of WWII. In fact, the error that caught my ear was ironic, given the consolidation of power into the executive pursued by this administration.
From the speech: “As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They’re successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be: This war will be difficult; this war will be long; and this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians, and a victory for the cause of freedom and liberty” (“http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060831-1.html”:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060831-1.html).
In fact, the leaders of terrorist organizations in current global focus have little to nothing in common with Nazis. Here’s why.
The Nazi’s were a party, organized by a segment of the German populace in response to the crushing economic conditions in post WWI and post Depression Europe. Their fascist ideology appealed to a people suffering from unchecked inflation, a people thirsting to return to their former economic glory. The drawbacks of that philosophy only became apparent as the Nazi horrors, perpetrated straight from the party leadership and down the line, unfolded. But they unfolded after a seminal event in history: the election of the Nazi party into power. German people largely embraced, out of agreement or fear, the blame they placed on others for the systemic failings of the prior German government.
Clearly, a party promising reform, appealing to the people, and being duly elected into power has little to do with almost all violent organizations (with the possible exception of Hamas). The terrorist organizations at the heart of the present conflicts, largely al Quaeda, are not elected, swear allegiance to no nation-state, and usurp the authority of sovereign nations both inside and out of the Middle East. It is by terrorism, by pure force of arms, that these groups rise to power.
What’s the irony? The irony is a President, elected by a slim majority of the nation – a nation hungry for change, for economic reform – an executive slowly consolidating power in a single branch of government, is pointing at terrorist organizations and drawing comparisons to the Nazi party. I am by no means saying that Republicans are Nazis – I am a firm supporter of the principles of States’ rights, economic responsibility, and efficient government (none of which the present administration really seems to embrace). I am also not calling the President a “Hitler”. Those are simplistic interpretations of my position. What I am saying is that a President who has put our nation in a position more like Germany leading up to WWII should be careful as he bandies about analogies between Nazi fascists and Middle Eastern terrorism. One would think that he wasn’t considering his words very carefully.