Godwin’s Law as a Governing Strategy

Nir Rosen catches Paul Bremer in a violation of Godwin’s Law with, as Rosen argues, real-world consequences:

[Paul] Bremer claims that [Saddam] 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.")

5 thoughts on “Godwin’s Law as a Governing Strategy

  1. A reductio ad Stalinum would be more appropriate since Saddam was an admirer of Uncle Joe; he had a shelf of Stalin’s books in his bedroom, and he used to tell people he wanted to make a Stalinist state out of Iraq.

    But Rosen is right. Misleading analogies do have consequences.


  2. From Wikipedia:

    “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.[2]”

    Was Paul Bremer a part of an online discussion when he did this? Probably not.

    Anyway I have come to accept that I am a Fascist. I’ve been labled as such so many times that I’ve come to see it as a synonym for any US GOP’er. ‘Fascist’ or ‘Nazi’ in this context has no more to do with the events of the 30’s than ‘Tory’ retains it’s original meaning (which I believe was “horse thief”).

    Some Hitler comparisons are more valid than others. Generally speaking I’d say that a man who officially murders more than a million of his own people might rate comparison with Hitler on some level. Perhaps a bit more than George Bush or myself – although many beg to differ (in my personal experience).


  3. Don’t blame Bremer for this, the weird notion that Iraq 03 was “like” Germany 45 was propagated by the higher-ups, so what should he have done? Contradicted Condoleezza Rice?

    1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS officers—called ‘werewolves’—engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them—much like today’s Baathist and Fedayeen remnants.

    Or Donald Rumsfeld?

    They plotted sabotage of factories, power plants, rail lines. They blew up police stations and government buildings, and they destroyed stocks of art and antiques that were stored by the Berlin Museum. Does this sound familiar?

    From here, includes obligatory refutation.

    It’s true that Germany took four years until two new, stable governments began to exist; for better or worse, however, four years after the Iraq war the nation looks nothing like Germany in 1945.

    As for the term “fascist,” coming from the usual suspects, at least here in Germany, it mostly means that you’re not one of them, and that is nothing but a compliment, as far as I am concerned.


  4. “As for the term ‘fascist,’ coming from the usual suspects, at least here in Germany, it mostly means that you’re not one of them, and that is nothing but a compliment, as far as I am concerned.”

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