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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Hitler, Munich, Ahmadinejad, Iran.

Over at the Whiskey Bar, Billmon ties them all together. And no, not the way you think.

[While] the by-now stock comparison between {Iranian president] Ahmadinejad and Hitler is absurd militarily, politically it's not nearly as far fetched as the normal run of Orwellian newspeak.

I don't say this because of Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denials or his public fantasies about Israel being wiped off the map. I certainly don't dismiss those remarks. I'm keenly aware that all too many "sensible" observers (most of them on the political right) dismissed Hitler's Mein Kampf ravings as merely a carny act to bring in the rubes. But I also know that firebreathing rhetoric about destroying the "Zionist entity" has been a staple of Middle Eastern political hate speech since Nasser's time if not before — just as talk about nuking Mecca has become an occasional feature of American political hate speech. I take such talk seriously, and I think everybody should, but I don't automatically assume that those who say such things are actually planning to commit genocide.

No, Ahmadinejad's resemblance to Hitler — and the reason why I find him a legitimately scary guy — is more a function of his role in the decay of the Iranian revolution, which is starting to take on some definite Weimer overtones....

A Marxist would probably say Ahmadinejad is playing the classic Bonapartist role: taking advantage of a political stalemate between social classes [the ayatollahs and the reformers] to forge a personal dictatorship. Or maybe he's just the inevitable product of an authoritarian system in terminal decline, like Milosevic in Yugoslavia. Or maybe he's really only explicable in Iranian terms.

I don't know. But Ahmadinejad's combination of demogogic appeal, ideological zealotry and end-times eschatology does make him a much more plausible stand-in for Hitler than an apparachik like Milosevic or a thug like Saddam. Even Juan Cole &151; hardly a neocon sympathizer — has called Ahmadinejad "essentially fascist."

What Ahmadinejad is not, however, is the absolute dictator of an advanced industrial state with a first-rate military. To pretend that he currently poses the same kind of threat to the world (or even to the Jewish people) that Hitler did in 1938 — or that he will pose such a threat any time within the next decade — is ridiculous. It also discredits the very legitimate concerns that the world should have about Iran and the future of the Iranian revolution.

Billmon has lots more to say in one of the best pieces of writing about the current standoff between Iran and the US I've read anywhere. Go read.

| | Posted by Magpie at 1:49 AM | Get permalink




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