Saddam Hussein and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are indecent, maniacal fuckwits, but that doesn't mean they were/are a threat to Americans even if they want(ed) to be. The administration didn't sell the Iraq war as a humanitarian intervention to protect the people most likely to suffer at the hand of Saddam--his own people--but as a preemptive strike against a nation that both intended and had the ability to harm the American people. Iran is now the same story. And once again, they're not selling it as a rescue mission on behalf of Iranians (or even Israelis), but as an American national security concern, which is patently false.
The point I'm going to make is a bit iffy here, because Shake is pretty accurate when she says that the Iraq war (and the potential Iran war) was/is not being sold on the grounds of humanitarianism or human rights. So fair play for her.
But even still, the rhetoric of the post seems to imply that the Hitler analogy is proper for nation's who display a manifest threat to our country's existence. My first thought upon a Hitler comparison, however, is to the commission of genocide. Saddam Hussein wasn't "like Hitler" because he posed a serious threat to American security (he didn't). If he was like Hitler, it was because he used poisonous chemicals to slaughter hundreds of thousands of his own citizens.
The Glenn Greenwald post she cites to does the same thing. The "Hitler" analogy is made with reference to "a crazed and irrational lunatic who wants to dominate the world." All very bad qualities to be sure, but they're united by the fact that they are problems for us. Hitler is bad because his lunacy pushes him into war with us, he's too irrational to know when to stop attacking us (or our interests), and even if he doesn't actually go to war, crazy people destabilize the ordered international system we so depend upon to go about our business in relative peace and prosperity.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't be concerned about ourselves, of course. But I think Hitler was bad for reasons wholly apart from his maniacal desires toward world domination. I think the whole thing with the genocide and gassing and killing of innocents (even those who didn't live in other countries and thus couldn't destabilize anything!) was bad too. Really bad, in fact. And this spectre of genocide, whether it is Iraq in Anfal, or Iran with its threats to wipe Israel off the earth, can quite legitimately provoke comparisons to Hitler.
I wrote in a previous post that, to some people, Hitler's crime wasn't that he killed millions of Jews, it's that he invaded Poland. Had he just stuck to his internal minorities, then there is no threat to external security, no challenge to the prevailing world order, and thus, Hitler becomes "just another" sadistical dictator. Perhaps we should tut at him, but heaven forbid we stop the slaughter. It's no longer our problem, he no longer threatens us.
I don't claim that the Bush administration has any credibility on this issue, because it doesn't. And I know that both Glenn and Shakespeare's Sister are not pro-genocide. I just wish that, when listening to the left dialogue about Iran and pre-war Iraq, there were fewer shadows of Kissengerian Realism, and a bit more empathy with the plight of the oppressed in their own country, not just ours.