A Totally Irrelevant Quote

From Mark Mazower’s “Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe”:

The early 1940s are thus a prime example of how the violence of war—especially when short-sighted and ideologically driven political leadership is combined with overwhelming military superiority—may lead to an almost limitless escalation in the use of force and a constant revision of rules and norms. The Nazis embraced the idea of pre-emptive war and did not regard themselves as generally bound by international law; as a result, only their own ethical constraints (which intense racial nationalism weakened where non-Germans were concerned) set limits to what they regarded themselves as justified in doing. Yet if war allowed the regime to conquer territory, it was also a means—as Hitler himself well understood—to change the Germans and their values.

Totally irrelevant.

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13 Responses to “A Totally Irrelevant Quote”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Rock on, Ted. Rock on. Dorme Bene…

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Very relevant to the liberals who sat on their asses and did nothing while Hitler invaded Europe. They would niave enough to think they could negotiate with him.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Anon 11:02, you need a serious history lesson.

  4. Grouchy Says:

    Very relevant to the liberals who sat on their asses and did nothing while Hitler invaded Europe. They would niave enough to think they could negotiate with him.

    Huh? What do you mean by “liberals”? In America and Europe, the socialists (and “liberals” are socialists, right?) were stringently opposed to Hitler and wanted action to stop him. The international right was ambivalent and even supportive of the Third Reich–which wouldn’t have been possible without American corporate financing.

    Your comment displays ignorance on a couple of different levels. Go read a book.

  5. Grouchy Says:

    Very relevant to the liberals who sat on their asses and did nothing while Hitler invaded Europe. They would niave enough to think they could negotiate with him.

    Another thought: is this a call to arms against Bush? The “liberals” have certainly sat on their hands while he invaded the middle east…

  6. Greg Says:

    Yes, relevant to conservatives who cynically thought Hitler was the bees’ knees and FDR was a dangerous Bolshevik who deserved a coup d’état in 1933. Conservatives like Preston Bush who invested in Nazi slave labor camps: those were Hitler’s supporters, not the liberals.

    Why is this rewritten history still being regurgitated?

  7. Ted Rall Says:

    I was taken by how post-9/11 war has corrupted American values. “Ideologically driven political leadership is combined with overwhelming military superiority” sounds a lot like the U.S. for the past few decades. We certainly look down on non-white foreigners as inferior, which is why we don’t care when we kill them. War corrupts values, which is why no one–not even Obama–talks about torture.

  8. autumn 1941 Says:

    Let’s not forget that Hitler’s last words as artillery rained down upon the Reichskanzlei were mostly about how the German people had ultimately proven themselves the inferior race by their unwillingness to be extinguished in the losing war.

    Keep it up America (and soon-to-be-President Barry who plans to continue it,) keep on truckin’ für den Sieg in Afghanistan! Remember, Amurrica- if we fail there- it’ll be because YOU didn’t BELIEVE!

  9. Edward Says:

    “If your not for ‘us’, you’re Against us.” – Yeah, that fits

    It would be nice to find some other examples of isolationist extremeism. Saudi, or Iranian or something, to fend off the ‘comparing to hitler’ meme.

  10. erik Says:

    When I was in Germany a few years ago I had an interesting conversation with the inn keeper at our hotel. After she had given directions to some American tourists on how to get to the Eagles Nest(Hitlers home in the Alps, which is now a tourist attraction), she spoke to us about being ashamed of her German Heritage and how although it’s great that she can afford a living helping tourists to these attactions how sickening it is to know that her Parents generation were part of that.

    I always think of that experience when I think of America’s future. How will history judge us for what we’ve done(or haven’t done)? Will my children lament the same as she does?

  11. foo Says:

    The idea that America was somehow above torturing people, whether it was ever true or false, was a phenomenon of the Cold War. America used to have to care how it was perceived in the world. It was competing for political support with the Soviet Union and with China, and one of the ways it did so was to present itself as not just economically distinct but as more ethical.

    Whether it was ever really more ethical, this macroscopic, worldwide context is long gone. At this point, America is what it is, if them dang furriners don’t like it too f@#$in’ bad.

    (The idiot above is half right — liberals didn’t do much about Hitler. As others have pointed out, Republicans didn’t just wring their hands about Hitler, they SUPPORTED him. The idiot doesn’t understand which team he’s picked.)

  12. Anonymous Says:

    This excerpt makes a good point.

    We are fortunate that the movement that Bush used to get to power was more of a coalition of ideologies, e.g., the fundamentalists, free marketers and neocons, and did not really have mass appeal. Not that the result has been less than disasterous but it could have been worse in almost every respect.

    I can’t say that allows me to rest easy. I really do not want to see another four years of neocons having direct access to power. They are the really politically sophisticated of the bunch and their ideology is based on maximizing their global power. They could care less about economics, domestic policy and family values. Although I have no idea what they think constitutes “the good”, they think that they know what is best for all.

    Princeton Readings in Political Thought has a good excerpt from Arendt’s analysis of what happened in Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. Arendt was concerned that this possibility reflected a flaw in our thinking about modern government in industrial nation states. I think we have ample evidence that we have no immunity–what Bush represents happened here and was not prevented by our institutions or intervention by other nations or international bodies. We are not Russia or Germany in the 30’s and 40’s. We are the USA right now. There are important differences and distinctions that need to be kept clear.

    Superficial comparisons to historical situations don’t quite cut it although they can be instructive. I think we are fooling ourselves if we think we really understand what has happened and is still happening. Explanations are a dime a dozen. Real understanding would mean that we would know what to do and say to would prevent a reoccurrence. This would not sound like motherhood. People would recognize the problem and act accordingly.

    We’ve had something like thirty years of this mix of propaganda and it has changed how people think. It has affected what is taught in our universities. I think values have changed for the worse as a result and I do not mean that in some moralistic sense. I’m thinking more of the capacity to make correct distinctions and to exercise sound judgment. Ideologies are not connected to reality and offer formulaic solutions to everything. That leads to actions with disastrous consequences. I think the last eight years and the content of current political discourse qualifies as a disaster.

  13. Angelo Says:

    Just got back from Poland and saw the German secret prisons.

    While I was there I read about the US secret prisons in Poland.

    Then I tried to google it to find more people talking about it/covering it. I am scared.

    I changed my ticket to come back for after the elections.

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