Another response

Sunday’s Outlook section in the Washington Post featured an essay entitlted, “What We Got Right in Iraq,” by L.Paul “Gerry” Bremer, former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq (May 2003-June 2004). What I found striking about this piece was the immediate reach for the Nazi analogy. In the second paragraph of a long essay, Bremer writes:

>Like most Americans, I am disappointed by the difficulties the nation has encountered after our quick 2003 victory over Saddam Hussein. But the U.S.-led coalition was absolutely right to strip away the apparatus of a particularly odious tyranny. Hussein modeled his regime after Adolf Hitler’s, which controlled the German people with two main instruments: the Nazi Party and the Reich’s security services. We had no choice but to rid Iraq of the country’s equivalent organizations to give it any chance at a brighter future.

Laus Deo that I’m not the only one to have noticed the silly desperation of the Nazi analogy. In today’s Post, Nir Rosen, fellow at the New America Foundation writes:

>Bremer claims that Hussein “modeled his regime after Adolf Hitler’s” and compares the Baath Party to the Nazi Party. Set aside the desperation of the debater who reaches immediately for the Nazi analogy and remember that there is no mention of such “modeling” in any of the copious literature about Iraq. This ludicrous Nazi analogy permeates the entire article; it also permeated the proconsul’s time in Baghdad, when Bremer imagined himself de-Nazifying postwar Germany, saving the Jews (the Shiites) from the Nazis (those evil Sunnis).

>This thoughtless comparison is one of the main reasons why he performed so horribly in Iraq. (Remember, most Baath Party members were Shiites; so in Bremer’s analogy, I suppose most of the Iraqi “Nazis” would be “Jews.”)

He’s right about both the silly comparison (Hussein admired Stalin more) and the fact that it’s the logical trope of the entire piece (if not whole belief systems of some who think about Iraq). Saddam wasn’t Hitler, no matter how evil he was. Whatever their many faults, one has to be thankful that the Post op-ed page editors published a rebuttal.

5 thoughts on “Another response”

  1. The human rights justification for Iraq was one that was circulated in conservative circles after it became clear that Hussein did not possess nuclear weapons. Of course, the original purpose of the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with human rights violations, and everything to do with nuclear proliferation. Hussein was certainly an evil man, and responsible unspeakable atrocities while he ruled. Had our original purpose been to put a halt to human rights violations, perhaps speaking of accomplishment with regards to the removal of Saddam might be appropriate, but as it was never a stated goal to begin with, this argument just sounds like a cheap way not to have to admit defeat.

  2. “Of course, the original purpose of the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with human rights violations, and everything to do with nuclear proliferation.”

    ummmm…i though it was about biological-chemical weapons, or at least that’s what my CO told me. then there was something about yellow cake, but even the NYT and the WaPo debunked that rumor, then someone’s wife got outed, then a lot of my friends got killed, then…well, then it was all exposed as a pack of lies. i don’t think anyone outside of our Beloved Leader’s trusted circle (down one, as of yesterday) knows what this war was about. in fact, in order to begin to discuss what this war was really about, i think you’d need to go back to 1991, because that’s when it really started and we’ve been fighting in that desert since then. there’s more here than nukes; there’s a power struggle in the middle east between secularism and islam, there’s a power struggle between the Saudis and Iran, there’s a crapload of oil, and there’s OPEC, in which the west, and the U.S. in particular, would like to have a say. don’t accept the proliferation claim, steve, it’s a smokescreen. there’s more going on there.

  3. “there‚Äôs a power struggle in the middle east between secularism and islam”

    This statement puzzles me.

  4. I wasn’t speaking to the adminstration’s actual motivatons for the preemptive invasion of 2003. I’m just talking about the justification that the President and conservatives pundits around the country provided. From the numerous speeches, including the one on the eve of the strike itself, the President posited the prevention of nuclear proliferation as his primary objective. After the cries of the nuclear skeptics were vindicated by our failure to find any such weapons, conservatives quietly offered a new justification of the war in order to avoid owning up to failure. Of of these arguments centers on the various human rights violations perpetuated by the rule of Iraq’s despotic ruler. Without addressing the initial motivation for the Iraq, many conservatives have trumped a human rights victory by overthrowing their leader. If you look at the title of this very article (‘What we got right in Iraq’), you’ll see that the author first uses this Hitler metaphor to stress the desperate plight of the Iraqis which was put to a halt by stopping this great perpitrator of evil. This ‘human right’s justification would have been more convincing had it been featured in the initial statements leading up to the invasion. I doubt you’d find anything conentious with what I’ve said, now that I’ve made it clear that we weren’t talking about the same thing to begin with.

  5. Steven–
    i see what you’re saying.

    nevyn–
    there are certain countries–bahrain and dubai–that are secular (read:westernized) in the middle east. it so happens that these countries also are among the wealthiest in the region. this is contrasted to nations which are more rigidly islamci–iran and saudi arabia–and which, though very wealthy, have concentrated the wealth in a privileged few, rather than bettering the wholoe nation. also there is a desire among some muslims (you should speak to my friend Imran at school, he’s got a nice take on this0 to present islam in a better light to the world, that is as non-misogynistic, non-violent religion; this is contrasted by the more hard-line clerics which would embrace a more cruel form of islam. so, there is a sort of power struggle between the two, as to which is the preferable path for the islamic world. it’s a struggle between which will be the ruling ideolog, in a sense.

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