Fri Sep 1st, 2006 at 10:54:22 AM EST
For the record: I am a German citizen and history student and have been contributing at dailykos since November 2003. As far as I know, no member of my family was involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity. In fact, my grandfather was incarcarated by the Nazis in various prisons and concentration camps from 1933 to 1945. I am living in a city which was 85 percent destroyed at end of the war and just 30 km away from one of the most notorious concentration camps of the Hitler era: Bergen Belsen. I have been volunteering in memorial centers at concentration camps sites and I hate National Socialism as much as I am able to hate a polical movement.
I am sick and tired of the disgusting comments by president Bush and other members of administration trying to frame the 2006 election along the line: "are you for or against for or against fighting Hitler?".
The 12 year chancellorship of Adolf Hitler amounts to the worst period in the history of human civilization. The origins and the nature of this destructive regime are specifically German and cannot and shall not be easily applied on other political phenomena, i.e. a rather typical modern failed state full of war lords and ethnic infighting (Iraq). That murderous regime, whose policies left 50 million dead on the battlefields of Europe and in the mass graves of the conentration camps is a very serious thing to deal with and should not be used as an easy campaign tool.
As for references for the fight against it, one should note that the military defeat of Germany came largely from the East and was made possible because president Roosevelt was willing to cut a deal with Stalin in the common interest to put an end Hitler's regime.
Imagine Bush goint to Teheran personally and strike a deal with Chamenei on peace in Iraq and nuclear weapons and you see what I mean: things are a little bit more complicated, than Bush tries to portray them.
Hitler's regime is the prinicipal reference of evil and the easiest way to chicken out of a serious debate on the problem of islamic terrorism. Putting islamic terrorist movements in the same category as the Nazi era limits the strategic potential in defeating them. Because they do not represent a solitary global bloc but seem to be a fractuous system of different small scale and mostly regional organizations. Thus, there can be different local strategies to deal with the roots and structures of these movements. Linking them to Hitler however, leaves no other option than total destruction - which seems to be highly unlikely and thus causing a self-radicalizing military campaign.
And addtionally, it helps to perpetuate Hitler's image as a larger-than-life monster. He always wanted to be a super-human saviour of his race. But he was neither this nor a monster: he was a criminal and a psychopath.
As for islamic terrorist, criminals they are. As Matthew Parris argued recently so brilliantly in the Times:
Let's treat the plotters as common criminals, not soldiers in a global war
And that is what al-Qaeda and the ragbag forces of Islamic fundamentalism amount to: a big, bloody nuisance. To deal with the murderous plot that may have been uncovered this week, sharpened vigilance, extra intelligence-gathering and the ordinary criminal law should suffice. The statutes, enforcers and spies we and our allies already have, have proved themselves up to the job. We should greet with suspicion attempts by politicians to muscle in on what has been, at however critical a level, an operational matter.
Or it is insinuated that what distinguishes these new dangers from the old is that they are "coordinated" by a "shadowy network". But throughout history much serious criminality has involved conspiracy, including conspiracies of an international sort. Have we forgotten the Cold War so fast? The laws and the law-enforcers, as well as our intelligence services, have centuries' practice at cracking codes, tracing associations, and monitoring communications across the country or the world. Let this continue, but let us not pretend the need or the skills are new. Watch out for the commentary that "after this week's discoveries, nothing will ever be quite the same again" -- and prepare to spit. There is nothing new here, only new configurations of ancient troubles.
I cannot accept the characterisation of our troubles these past few years and days as amounting to a War on Terror, or a war on anything. There is an immense risk that if we see it this way we may be conjuring into existence networks and loyalties that were flimsy and uncoordinated until we dignified them with the name of Terror and advertised their prowess across the globe
Our enemies want a fight, so here's a novel suggestion. Let's not oblige. Let's keep our tanks and helicopters and cluster bombs locked within our armouries; let's keep listening and watching and arresting and bringing to court; let's keep our liberties and accord them theirs; and let's carry on treating these people for what they are: a big, bloody nuisance.
One last suggestion, try something out. Whenever you want to make a historic analogy, try one out of your own cultural context.
I would love to see the president of the U.S - who claims to be an heir of Licoln - or anyone tell the world that al-Zarqawi was "a modern times Robert E.Lee", or that "Osama bin Ladin is as evil as Jefferson Davis". Last not least the struggle for a survival of an Iraqi statte may also be part of the eternal stuggle against "southern segrationism".
All the best.
Cross-posted at dkos