by Edward Jayne
August 29, 2004
(revised from an earlier version posted March 29, 2003)
When President Bush decided to invade Iraq, his spokesmen began comparing Saddam Hussein to Adolph Hitler, the most monstrous figure in modern history. Everybody was therefore shocked when a high German bureaucrat turned the tables by comparing Bush himself with Hitler. As to be expected, she (the bureaucrat) was forced to resign because of her extreme disrespect for an American president. However, the resemblance sticks--there are too many similarities to be ignored, some of which may be listed here.
Like Hitler, President Bush was not elected by a majority, but was forced to engage in political maneuvering in order to gain office.
Like Hitler, Bush began to curtail civil liberties in response to a well-publicized disaster, in Hitler’s case the Reichstag fire, in Bush’s case the 9-11 catastrophe.
Like Hitler, Bush went on to pursue a reckless foreign policy without the mandate of the electorate and despite the opposition of most foreign nations.
Like Hitler, Bush has increased his popularity with conservative voters by mounting an aggressive public relations campaign against foreign enemies. Just as Hitler cited international communism to justify Germany’s military buildup, Bush has used Al Qaeda and the so-called Axis of Evil to justify our current military buildup. Paradoxically none of the nations in this axis--Iraq, Iran and North Korea--have had anything to do with each other.
Like Hitler, Bush has promoted militarism in the midst of economic recession (or depression as it was called during the thirties). First he used war preparations to help subsidize defense industries (Halliburton, Bechtel, Carlyle Group, etc.) and presumably the rest of the economy on a trickle-down basis. Now he turns to the very same corporations to rebuild Iraq, again without competitive bidding and at extravagant profit levels.
Like Hitler, Bush displays great populist enthusiasm in his patriotic speeches, but primarily serves wealthy investors who subsidize his election campaigns and share with him their comfortable lifestyle. As he himself jokes, he treats these individuals at the pinnacle of our economy as his true political “base.”
Like Hitler, Bush envisages our nation’s unique historic destiny almost as a religious cause sanctioned by God. Just as Hitler did for Germany, he takes pride in his “providential” role in spreading his version of Americanism throughout the entire world.
Like Hitler, Bush promotes a future world order that guarantees his own nation’s hegemonic supremacy rather than cooperative harmony under the authority of the United Nations (or League of Nations).
Like Hitler, Bush quickly makes and breaks diplomatic ties, and he offers generous promises that he soon abandons, as in the cases of Mexico, Russia, Afghanistan, and even New York City. The same goes for U.S. domestic programs. Once Bush was elected, many leaders of these programs learned to dread his making any kind of an appearance to praise their success, since this was almost inevitably followed by severe cuts in their budgets.
Like Hitler, Bush scraps international treaties, most notably the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Convention on the Prohibition of Land Mines, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Kyoto Global Warming Accord, and the International Criminal Court.
Like Hitler, Bush repeats lies often enough that they come to be accepted as the truth. Bush and his spokesmen argued, for example, that they had taken every measure possible to avoid war, than an invasion of Iraq would diminish (not intensify) the terrorist threat against the U.S., that Iraq was linked with Al Qaeda, and that nothing whatsoever had been achieved by U.N. inspectors to warrant the postponement of U.S. invasion plans. All of this was false. They also insisted that Iraq hid numerous weapons it did not possess since the mid-190s, and they refused to acknowledge the absence of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq since the early nineties. As perhaps to be expected, they indignantly accused others of deception and evasiveness.
Like Hitler, Bush incessantly shifted his arguments to justify invading Iraq--from Iraq’s WMD threat to the elimination of Saddam Hussein, to his supposed Al Qaeda connection, to the creation of Iraqi democracy in the Middle East as a model for neighboring states, and back again to the WMD threat. As soon as one excuse for the war was challenged, Bush advanced to another, but only to shift back again at another time.
Like Hitler, Bush and his cohorts emphasize the ruthlessness of their enemies in order to justify their own. Just as Hitler cited the threat of communist violence to justify even greater violence on the part of Germany, the bush team justified the invasion of Iraq by emphasizing Hussein’s crimes against humanity over the past twenty-five years. However, these crimes were for the most part committed when Iraq was a client-ally of the U.S. Our government supplied Hussein with illegal weapons (poison gas included), and there were sixty U.S. advisors in Iraq when these weapons were put to use (see NY Times, Aug. 18, 1992). U.S. aid to Iraq was actually doubled afterwards despite disclaimers from Washington that our nation opposed their use President Reagan’s special envoy Donald Rumsfeld personally informed Hussein of this one hundred percent increment during one of his two trips to Iraq at the time. He also told Hussein not to take U.S. disclaimers seriously.
Like Hitler, Bush takes pride in his status as a “War President,” and his global ambition makes him perhaps the most dangerous president in our nation’s history, a “rogue” chief executive capable of waging any number of illegal preemptive wars. He fully acknowledges his willingness to engage in wars of “choice” as well as wars of necessity. Sooner or later this choice will oblige universal conscription as well as a full-scale war economy.
Like Hitler, Bush continues to pursue war without cutting back on the peacetime economy. Additional to unprecedented low interest rates bestowed by the Federal Reserve, he has actually cut federal taxes twice by substantial amounts, especially for the top one percent of U.S. taxpayers, while conducting an expensive invasion and an even more expensive occupation of a hostile nation. As a result, President Clinton’s $350 billion budget surplus has been reduced to a $450 billion deficit, comprising an unprecedented $800 billion decline in less than four years. At the same time the U.S. dollar has steadily dropped against currencies of both Europe and Japan.
Like Hitler, Bush possesses a war machine much bigger and more effective than the military capabilities of other nations. With the extra financing obliged by the defeat and occupation of Iraq, Bush now relies on a “defense” budget well in excess of the combined military expenditures of the rest of the world. Moreover, the $416 billion defense package passed last week by Congress will probably need to be supplemented before the end of the year.
Like Hitler, bush depends on an axis of collaborative allies, which he describes as a “coalition of the willing,” in order to give the impression of a broad popular alliance. These allies include the U.K. as compared to Mussolini’s Italy, and Spain and Bulgaria, as compared to, well, Spain and Bulgaria, both of which were aligned with Germany during the thirties and World War II. As a result of their cooperation, Prime Minister Blair’s diplomatic reputation has been ruined in England, and a surprising election defeat has produced an unfriendly government in Spain. The Philippines have withdrawn their troops from Iraq to save the life of a hostage, and other defections can be expected in the near future.
Like Hitler, Bush is willing to go to war over the objections of the U.N. (League of Nations). His Iraq invasion was illegal and therefore a war crime as explained by Articles 41 and 42 of the U.N. Charter, which require two votes, not one, by the Security Council before any state takes such an action. First a vote is needed to explore all possibilities short of warfare (in Iraq’s case through the use of U.N. inspectors), and once this has been shown to be fruitless, a second vote is needed to permit military action. U.S. and U.K. delegates at the Security Council prevented this second vote once it was plain they lacked a majority. This was because other nations on the Security Council were satisfied with the findings of U.N. inspectors that no weapons of mass destruction had yet been found. Minus this second vote, the invasion was illegal. Bush also showed in the process that he has no qualms about bribing, bullying, and insulting U.N. members, even tapping their telephone lines. This was done with undecided members of the Security Council as well as the U.N. Secretary General when the U.S.-U.K. resolution was debated preceding the invasion.
Like Hitler, Bush launches unilateral invasions on a supposedly preemptive basis. Just as Hitler convinced the German public to think of Poland as a threat to Germany in 1939 (for example in his Sept. 19 speech), Bush wants Americans to think of Iraq as having been a “potential” threat to our national security--indeed as one of the instigators of the 9-11 attack despite a complete lack of evidence to support this claim.
Like Hitler, Bush depends on a military strategy that features a “shock and awe” blitzkrieg beginning with devastating air strikes, then an invasion led by heavy armored columns.
Like Hitler, Bush is willing to inflict high levels of bloodshed against enemy nations. Between 20,000 and (more probably) 37,000 are now estimated to have been killed, as much as a 40-1 kill ratio compared to the more than 900 Americans killed. In other words, for every U.S. fatality, probably as many as forty Iraqi have died.
Like Hitler, Bush is perfectly willing to sacrifice life as part of his official duty. This would be indicated by the unprecedented number of prisoners executed during his service as governor of Texas. Under no other governor in the history of the United States were so many killed.
Like Hitler, Bush began warfare on a single front (Al Qaeda quartered in Afghanistan) , but then expanded it to a second front with Iraq, only to be confronted with North Korea and Iran as potential third and fourth fronts. Much the same thing happened to Hitler when he advanced German military operations from Spain to Poland and France, then was distracted by Yugoslavia before invading the USSR in 1941. Today, bush seems prevented by the excessive costs of the Iraqi debacle from going to war elsewhere if reelected, but not through any lack of desire.
Like Hitler, Bush has no qualms about imposing “regime change” by installing Quisling-style client governments backed by a U.S. military occupation with both political and economic control entirely in the hands of Americans. It is no surprise that Iyad Alawi, Iraq’s current temporary prime minister, was once affiliated with the CIA and has been reliably reported by the Australian press to have executed six hooded prisoners with a handgun to their heads just a day or two before his appointment a couple weeks ago.
Like Hitler, Bush curtails civil liberties in captive nations and depends on detention centers (i.e., concentration camps) such as a Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and any number of secret interrogation centers across the world. Prisoners at the camps go unidentified and have no legal rights as ordinarily guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions. They have also been detained indefinitely (for 2 ½ years already at Guantanamo Bay), though there is mounting evidence that many are innocent of what they have been charged--some, for example, having been randomly seized by Northern Alliance troops in Afghanistan for an automatic bounty from U.S. commanders. Moreover, many Iraqi> prisoners have been tortured, in many instances just short of death. Recent U.S. documents disclose that as many twenty have died while being tortured, and twenty others have died under unusual circumstances yet to be determined.
Like Hitler, Bush uses the threat of enemies abroad to stir the fearful allegiance of the U.S. public. For example, he features public announcements of possible terrorist attacks in order to override embarrassing news coverage or to crowd from headlines positive coverage of Democratic Party activities. He also uses the threat of terrorism to justify extraordinary domestic powers granted by the Patriot Act. Even the books we check out of public libraries can be kept on record by federal agents.
Like Hitler, Bush depends on a propaganda machine to guarantee sympathetic news management. In Hitler’s case news coverage was totally dominated by Goebbels; in Bush’s case reporters have been almost totally “imbedded” by both military spokesmen and wealthy media owners sympathetic with Bush. The most obvious case is the Fox news channel, owned and controlled by Rupert Murdoch. Not surprisingly, recent polls indicate that the majority of Fox viewers still think Hussein played a role in the 9-11 attack.
Like Hitler, Bush increasingly reduces the circle of aides he feels he can trust as his policies keep boomeranging at his own expense. Just as Hitler ended up isolated in his headquarters, with few individuals granted access, Bush is now said to be limiting access primarily to Attorney General Ashcroft (who also talks with God on a regular basis) as well as Karl Rove, the Vice President, Karen Hughes, and a few others. Both Secretary of State Powell and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld are now said to be out of the loop.
Like Hitler, Bush has become obsessed with his vision of conflict between good (U.S. patriotism) and evil (anti-Americanism. Many in contact with the White House are said to be worried that he is beginning to lose touch with reality--perhaps resulting from the use of medication that seriously distorts his judgment. Possibly symptomatic of this concern is the increasing number of disaffected government officials who leak embarrassing documents.
Like Hitler, bush takes pleasure in the mythology of frontier justice. As a youth Hitler read and memorized the western novels of Karl May, and Bush retains into his maturity his fascination with simplistic cowboy values. He also exaggerates a cowboy twang despite his C-average elitist education at Andover, Yale, and Harvard.
Like Hitler, Bush misconstrues Darwinism, in Hitler’s case by treating the Aryan race as being superior on an evolutionary basis, in Bush’s case by rejecting science for fundamentalist creationism.
Of course countless differences may be listed between Hitler and President Bush, most of which are to the credit of Bush. Nevertheless, the resemblances listed here are striking, especially since Bush’s first term in office must be compared with Hitler’s performance as German Chancellor through the year 1937, preceding the chain of events immediately preceding World War II. In any case, George W. Bush seems the worst and most dangerous U.S. president in recent memory (for me since Roosevelt)-- if not in the entire history of the United States.
Edward Jayne is a retired English professor with experience as a '60s activist. He can be contacted at: edward.jayne@ wmich.edu