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May 24, 2008


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Malachy Walsh


Comparisons like this make it easy for the Right wing in American politics to bash the hell out of the Left.

A poorly considered analogy by Mr. Grace. Dumb.


I agree with most of what you say. When the Democrats criticize their opponents for being international law-violating imperialists (as Hitler was), they face the usual criticisms of being weak and hating America. They can win by continuing in their current direction, criticizing Republican policy mostly for its failure to achieve the stated objectives, shying away from questioning the moral or legal value of the objectives.

The Left has, however, gotten some mileage out of the Hitler analogy regarding the Bush administration’s detention procedures. In my opinion, the comparison is much less valid in this area. Though the Bush detention procedures are horrific, as well as morally and legally problematic, they don’t seem tactically comparable, or anywhere near the scope of systematically murdering six million people with the intention of exterminating an entire race. So it is interesting that the Hitler analogy plays politically only when it is unwarranted.

Where you and I disagree, I believe, is on whether American voters should publicly engage in substantive explorations of how our current situation relates to past events, even if these explorations can be used in the propaganda of our opponents. I believe in certain contexts, such as this one, such analogies can be valuable. Whether the analogy holds water is a whole other issue, and would be interesting to discuss.

Malachy Walsh

I think the analogy is inappropriate.

But more importantly, to me, it clouds any substantial discussion of current events because now you have to deal with a rhetorical approach that asks me to assign a genocidal badge to one side or the other. The conversation just doesn't need the emotional baggage which goes with the analogy.

I think the deplorable situation the Bush administration put us in is seen more clearly without it.


That’s a perfectly reasonable viewpoint, and certainly shared by others. I assure you, for whatever it’s worth, my intention is only to broaden the discussion. I believe we can learn a great deal by examining Germany’s diplomatic and military maneuvers in the 1930’s – especially since then, as now, actors believed elements of the international order to be illegitimate and worked to undermine it. However, I accept that you, and many others, find that the emotionally charged nature of the analogy prevents them from engaging with the topic in that way. And I do agree with your first point – that the analogy is problematic for the Democrats when incorporated into political propaganda – but I differ with you over whether the analogy can be useful in assessing which current policies are effective and moral.


You could use tons of different analogies. None of them is perfect. None of them is helpful in truly assessing today's situation.

It's interesting that you use this analogy however. It says more about your point of view than it does about what the US or Iranian governments are doing or thinking about each other.

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