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“Back To The Fuhrer”: Why Republicans Are Obsessed With Comparing Obama To Hitler

Say what you will about Mike Huckabee, the guy has a way with a quip. And when he responded to the Iran nuclear deal by claiming that Barack Obama “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven,” the only really surprising thing was that it took this long for Obama to go from being Neville Chamberlain on the subject of Iran to Adolf Hitler.

Because this wouldn’t be the first time — or the 10th, or the 100th — that a prominent conservative has compared Obama to Hitler. Given ample opportunity to admit that maybe he went too far in his remarks, Huckabee has been unrepentant. “The response from Jewish people has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said, making one wonder which Jews he’s talking to, since as a people we tend to be a little put off by glib Nazi analogies, particularly ones that are so vivid. But Huckabee has gotten plenty of support from fellow conservatives, who are practically lining up to say that, yes, Obama really is bringing about another Holocaust.

I’m not going to bother to argue with the absurd assertion that: 1) drastically curtailing and inspecting Iran’s nuclear program will actually do more to give Iran a nuclear weapon than just leaving the regime alone to do as it likes; and 2) the moment Iran has a weapon it will launch it at Israel in an act of national suicide. (Don’t forget that Israel has something like 100 nukes, and so could vaporize every square inch of Iran without much trouble.) But I do want to comment on the propensity of conservatives to go back to the Fuhrer time and again.

Let’s step back to Chamberlain for a moment before we move on to Hitler. Conservatives were calling the Iran deal the second coming of Munich even before any of its terms had been worked out. Which highlights something important about their beliefs on this topic: For all their talk of a fantasy deal in which Iran gives us everything we could possibly want and demands nothing in return, the whole point of the Munich analogy is that negotiation is useless by definition.

When conservatives said that Obama was like Chamberlain, they weren’t saying Obama is a bad negotiator and could have gotten a better deal. It isn’t the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000. The clear implication of the Munich analogy is that there shouldn’t have been any negotiations at all, and that war is inevitable so we might as well just get on with it. If your adversary is Hitler — and as far as many on the right or concerned, every potential adversary is Hitler — then war to save the world is the only option, and anyone who seeks a diplomatic solution to a dispute is a sucker.

But that was when they were being kind. Calling Obama Chamberlain suggests that his problem is naïvete, not malice. It accepts that he doesn’t actually wish for the extermination of the Jews, even if that is the inevitable result of his foolishness. But of course, conservatives have thought for a long time that Obama is absolutely brimming with malice — toward America, toward Christians, toward Jews, toward white people, toward just about anyone they like.

Which is why we’ve hardly gone a month throughout this presidency without someone comparing Obama to Hitler, on matters both weighty and mundane. He had only been in office a few weeks when Glenn Beck started comparing his program to that of the Nazi party. “Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate,” said Rush Limbaugh in the summer of 2009, just a few months later. Conservative commentators saw swastikas in Obama’s push to register new voters in 2008, and even in his campaign slogans. Conservative favorite Ben Carson says the government under Obama is “very much like Nazi Germany,” because “[y]ou had the government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.” And that’s not to mention all the times some billionaire has compared Obama to Hitler for such appalling things as proposing to close the carried-interest loophole.

Plenty of former presidents were compared to Hitler by their opponents from time to time, but I think it’s safe to say that none has been the target of so many Nazi comparisons, coming so often and from so many prominent people, whether they be politicians or media figures.

It’s more evidence that the opposition to Obama is qualitatively different than what came before it. Never in our recent history has either party been as adamantly opposed to any political compromise as today’s GOP is. Republicans hated Bill Clinton, like Democrats hated George W. Bush, but they were willing to work together fairly regularly — no more. No president has had his legitimate occupation of the Oval Office questioned as often as Obama has; the man even had to show his birth certificate before they’d believe he’s actually an American (and many still don’t).

From the beginning, the conservative argument against Obama from so many quarters has been that he’s not just wrong or misguided, but is actually trying to destroy America and turn it into something twisted and ugly. If you think I’m exaggerating, then you haven’t been listening to their radio shows, watching their TV network, or reading their books, because that’s what they’ve been saying since before he got elected.

And if you believe that, then of course Obama isn’t Chamberlain, because Chamberlain is just a fool. Obama is the really sinister one, the one who wants to snuff out liberty and crush those who love it under his boot. He’s Hitler.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, July 29, 2015

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Mike Huckabee | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Barack Obama Is Not Neville Chamberlain”: Have The Iranians Emerged Stronger From Lausanne? No

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we have secured a long-lasting peace with Iran, or that Tehran’s deeply troubling bad behavior in the Middle East will be modified.

We all know the framework nuclear agreement between six world powers and Iran is far from perfect — when you’re sitting at the table with the Russians, Chinese, French, and Iranians, how could it be? — but it has bought something quite valuable: time. And now, the underlying, fundamental question — does the deal dampen the prospect of war itself? — must be answered, ever so cautiously, yes.

Predictably, hawkish critics have been quick to accuse President Obama over the last several months (before the agreement was even reached) of selling out Israel with these Iran negotiations, with comparisons writ large to Neville Chamberlain, the feckless British prime minister who threw the Sudetenland (a portion of sovereign Czechoslovakia) to the wolves to appease Hitler in 1938 (the French were in on the sellout as well). It is “peace in our time,” Chamberlain proclaimed, waving a piece of paper to prove it.

But wolves are always hungry. Six months after the Munich deal, Hitler gobbled up the rest of Czechoslovakia as well — before rolling into Poland six months after that. The second World War was on, and Chamberlain would go down in history as a naif, a coward, or both.

Unprepared and anxious to avoid war, British and French demands during the Czech crisis were directed not at the source of the problem — Hitler — but at his intended victim, the Czechs. The Germans were never asked to disarm or even scale back their growing military machine. The true appeasement of Munich was the feeding of the wolf with the naive belief that it would not wish to feed again.

Hitler emerged from Munich stronger, having won everything he desired and giving up nothing to Chamberlain. Have the Iranians emerged stronger from Lausanne? No.

Iran is giving up 68 percent of its nuclear centrifuges for at least a decade. Tehran has agreed to not enrich uranium beyond 3.67 percent purity — enough to produce electricity but nowhere near the level needed for nuclear weapons — for 15 years. Its current stockpile of low-enriched uranium —10,000 kiliograms — will be cut 97 percent. The once-secret enrichment plant at Fordo — discovered by American intelligence in 2009 — will be converted to a “research center.” A heavy water reactor at Arak — theoretically capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium — will be redesigned and rebuilt to prevent this.

Can Iran be trusted to actually do all this? Not on your life. For more than a quarter-century, Iran has lied about and hidden virtually every part of its nuclear program from the rest of the world. It has threatened to destroy Israel. To this day, it continues to support terror groups like Hezbollah and murderous regimes like Syria. Iran has since 1984 been considered by the U.S. to be a state sponsor of terrorism.

This is why as part of the Lausanne framework, the U.S. and its allies have demanded regular and intrusive access for international inspectors — not just of Iran’s nuclear facilities, but of their supply chains. And it’s why the sanctions that have crippled a broad swath of the Iranian economy will remain in place and be lifted gradually and only when the U.S. and others are satisfied that their demands are being met. Beyond this intrusive on-ground presence, U.S. ELINT (electronic intelligence gathering) and other measures will be stepped up to provide extra layers of scrutiny.

The WWII appeasement comparisons lobbed by Obama’s critics would only be remotely accurate if Chamberlain and France’s Édouard Daladier told Hitler in 1938 that he needed to dismantle two-thirds of the Wehrmacht to prove his intentions benign, or that Allied inspectors must be allowed into German armament factories in the Ruhr to ensure no further production of Panzers.

Obama, German Chancellor Merkel, French President Hollande (whose position on Iran has been toughest of all) and Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister Cameron know better. “Distrust but verify” is the phrase you hear in the West Wing — better than Reagan’s “trust but verify,” which he used with a far bigger and more dangerous enemy, the Soviet Union, back in the 1980s.

Is Obama Neville Chamberlain because he hasn’t insisted on the complete fantasy of total disarmament from Iran? Of course not. Iran isn’t a vanquished power, like Germany or Japan in 1945, when we had total command of the strategic situation and could dictate terms to a T. Diplomacy and arms reduction is a process of gradualism, with each side — wary and distrusting — cautiously taking interim steps and searching for common ground. The last four decades of relations between Washington and Moscow — frosty, warmer, and now frosty again — have been defined by competition, distrust, misunderstandings, and a series of gradual arms reductions pacts.

Has Obama sold out Israel as Chamberlain did Czechoslovakia? Of course not. Obama has stepped up funding of Iron Dome, the missile defense system that saved lives during last year’s war with Hamas. He quietly gave Benjamin Netanyahu bunker buster bombs — a request rejected by the Bush administration out of fear that Israel was sending U.S. military technology to China. “Even some of the hawks from the George W. Bush administration grudgingly give Obama credit for behind-the-scenes progress,” says former Reagan foreign policy advisor Elliott Abrams. And Ehud Barak — Netanyahu’s former defense minister and a former prime minister himself, tells CNN, “I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security is more than anything that I can remember in the past.”

Some sellout.

No one says this deal is perfect. And given Iran’s history of lying and cheating, no one says we’ve achieved “peace in our time.” But if Iran cheats, as Obama said last week in the Rose Garden, “the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it…with this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world.” Hardly an expression of confidence in the mullahs’ true intentions.

And hardly a betrayal of our good friends in Israel.

 

By: Paul Brandus, The Week, April 6, 2015

April 7, 2015 Posted by | Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Iran | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“When War Is The Only Option We All Lose”: GOP Plunging Blindly Into Reckless Politicization Of The Issues Of War And Peace

It is very rare where I get angry from the outbursts that emanate from my television screen but yesterday was an exception. That it would come from a protégé of Dick Cheney is neither surprising nor excusable. On Hardball with Chris Matthews Ron Christie uttered some of the most nonsensical, insensitive, and factually dubious comments I have heard in a while. Mounting an attack against the recently completed framework for Iranian nuclear containment he likened President Obama’s efforts to those of Neville Chamberlain in 1938. Aside from the cheap and tawdry nature of the accusation, it is intellectually bankrupt and petty.

In the eyes of the lunatic fringe evidently Obama is not only a Muslim, Kenyan, and Socialist but also a Nazi sympathizer. The childishness of the accusations is only eclipsed by the vapidity with which they are dispensed. Dick Cheney should be in Guantanamo serving a life sentence for the damage he has wrought on the battlefield and in the arena of American national security interest. He is a lunatic, a dangerous one at that and he continues to this day to spread his hate-mongering to any audience that is desperate enough to have him.

Ron Christie was an advisor to Cheney and his baseless political hucksterism does not qualify him for prison but certainly does bring into question his value as a commentator. Reading from a prepared script does not qualify anyone to be taken seriously, particularly when it is devoid of substantive considerations. He is purely and simply a political hack.

The conservative Republican talking points memo on Iran was drafted long before even the faintest outlines of a framework were discussed. It is extremely hard to take seriously the opposition position that renders the mere act of negotiating an agreement a non-starter. The position that negotiation has no place in disposition of the serious issues involved when it comes to nuclear capacity in Iran is as deceitful as it is dangerous. Have these neoconservative nincompoops not done enough damage already?

To be clear their opposition is not to the construct of an agreement as much as it is a statement that anything short of war should be on the table. The same neocon thinking that led us to the most strategically disastrous blunder in American history, namely the invasion of Iraq and subsequent execution of a governmental purge known as deBathification is very much alive in the comments of noted failures such as Cheney, Bolton, and now this mouthpiece Ron Christie.

An outraged Matthews did everything he could to ridicule Christie short of cutting off his microphone. I would offer that Christie’s performance should foreclose the option of him ever being invited to appear on any program designed to discuss serious issues involving international affairs. He obviously takes his cue from the attack first and ask questions later crowd and if there is need for discussion of whether war or peace is an appropriate response to issues in tinderbox areas of the world such as the Middle East then maybe there is consideration of his opinion. However, on issues of substance he is ill equipped to participate in the discussion.

The Republicans have got this one wrong and will not be supported by the American public at large. They have overplayed their hand by plunging blindly into reckless politicization of the issues of war and peace and if they succeed in derailing an attempt to peacefully settle the issue at hand will drive a wedge into the heart of American public opinion unlike any seen since the dark days surrounding our involvement in Vietnam.

 

By: Lance Simmens, Author, The Evolution of a Revolution; The Blog, The Huffington Post, April 4, 2015

April 5, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Iran, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Always 1938”: The Right’s Lazy, “Ridiculous Neville Chamberlain Obsession”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) turned to a familiar comparison to condemn international nuclear talks yesterday. “I believe we are hearing echoes of history,” the senator said. “I believe we are at a moment like Munich in 1938.”

Of course he does.

Right-wing critics of the talks have been talking like this for months, though conservatives seem to be pushing the thesis with increased vigor now that an agreement appears more likely. Last week, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress, Mike Huckabee even celebrated the Israeli leader as “a Churchill in a world of Chamberlains.”

I’m reminded of a Peter Beinart piece from a while back.

Over the past quarter-century, there’s hardly an American or Israeli leader the Kristol-Netanyahu crowd hasn’t compared to Chamberlain. In 1985, Newt Gingrich called Reagan’s first meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.” When Reagan signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, hawks took out newspaper ads declaring that “Appeasement is as unwise in 1988 as in 1938.”

Then, when Israel moved to thaw its own cold war with the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yitzhak Rabin assumed the Chamberlain role…. Then it was Bill Clinton. “The word that best describes Clinton administration [foreign] policy is appeasement,” explained Robert Kagan and Kristol in 1999. Then, of course, it was the opponents of war with Iraq. “The establishment fights most bitterly and dishonestly when it feels cornered and thinks it’s about to lose. Churchill was attacked more viciously in 1938 and 1939 than earlier in the decade,” wrote Kristol in a 2002 editorial, “The Axis of Appeasement.”

Simon Maloy had more along these lines today, taking a closer look at the right’s “ridiculous Neville Chamberlain obsession” and “all the times conservatives accused Barack Obama of appeasing the world’s many Hitlers.” It’s not a short list.

With this in mind, the latest nonsense from Cruz and Huckabee isn’t just wrong and offensive; it’s lazy.

As we discussed a while back, during the 2008 presidential race, far-right radio host Kevin James accused Obama and other Democrats of Chamberlain-like “appeasement” policies in the Middle East. When msnbc’s Chris Matthews asked James what, specifically, happened in Munich in 1938, the conservative host simply had no idea – James thought it’d be provocative to throw around buzzwords popular with the right, but he never bothered to gain even a cursory understanding of his own rhetoric.

It seems the political world is witnessing a repeat of the same circumstances, only this time it’s on a much larger scale. Instead of one confused radio host being exposed as ignorant on national television, we see many leading Republicans – including likely presidential candidates – following the same example, pushing a comparison they don’t understand.

Let’s make this plain: every attempt at diplomacy with a foreign foe is not Munch. Every enemy is not Hitler. Every international agreement is not appeasement. Every president or prime minister conservatives don’t like is not Chamberlain.

There’s all kinds of room for spirited debate about how best to shape U.S. policy towards Iran, but if Republicans want their concerns to be taken seriously, they’ll have to do better than this.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 13, 2015

March 14, 2015 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Right Wing, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Chamberlain Shook Hands With Hitler”: By His Own Reasoning, John McCain Is Neville Chamberlain

President Obama delivered a rather beautiful tribute this morning to Nelson Mandela at the memorial service for in Johannesburg, where the U.S. president received an extraordinarily warm welcome as one of the world’s most popular leaders. The domestic political chatter has decided the remarks and the reception aren’t terribly important.

What does matter, apparently, is the “selfie” Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt took with Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, and the perfunctory handshakes Obama made with other heads of state on the stage, including Cuba’s Raul Castro.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday compared President Obama’s handshake with Cuban leader Raul Castro to Neville Chamberlain shaking hands with Adolph Hitler.

“It just gives Raul some propaganda to continue to prop up his dictatorial regime,” McCain told PRI’s Todd Zwillich. “Why should you shake hands with someone who is keeping Americans in prison? I mean, what’s the point?

“Neville Chamberlain shook hands with Hitler,” the Arizona lawmaker said, referring to the British prime minister’s handshake with the Nazi leader after Great Britain agreed to Germany’s takeover of the Sudentenland in Czechoslovakia.

In case you’re thinking this is an exaggeration, and even McCain wouldn’t be so reckless as to say something this foolish on the record, there’s an audio clip confirming the accuracy of the quote.

It’s been nearly two whole weeks since congressional Republicans compared the president to Chamberlain, so I guess we were due?

In terms of responding to McCain on the merits, we could explain that Raul Castro isn’t Hitler. And we could note that a polite handshake bears no resemblance to the agreement struck in Munich in 1938. And we could mention that the reflexive reaction from Republicans to play the Hitler card at a moment’s notice became tiresome a long time ago.

But let’s put all of that aside and instead focus on an event from recent memory: in August 2009, McCain traveled to Libya, where he personally visited with Muammar Gadhafi, shook the dictator’s hand, praised him publicly, and even bowed to him, all while discussing delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan regime.

McCain later described Gadhafi as a modern-day Hitler. By his own reasoning, wouldn’t that make McCain … Neville Chamberlain?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 10, 2013

December 11, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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