THIS WEEK’S SYNDICATED COLUMN: What Obama and Hitler Have in Common

Broke and on a Losing Streak, Obama Doubles Down

Contrary to myth, the Nazis weren’t crazy. But during the winter of 1944-45, with the Allied and Soviet armies closing in on Berlin, German leaders made an insane decision. Instead of doing whatever they could to hold out as long as possible, they sped up the Holocaust.

The Nazis’ policy of accelerated genocide deprived the war effort of increasingly precious resources. Soldiers and paramilitaries were pulled back from the battlefront in order to arrest and guard ever-increasing numbers of Jews and other “enemies of the state.” As battle after battle was lost, trains assigned to transport reinforcement troops were reassigned to ship the regime’s victims to the death camps.

Killing Jews was the Nazis’ top priority. It came ahead of everything else–even their own lives. Total madness.

But who are we to judge? Here we are 64 years later, doing the same thing. The U.S. is locked in a last-ditch struggle for survival, and the U.S. government is diverting vital resources to its own top priority: killing Muslims.

President Obama and the Democrats always asserted that Afghanistan was the “good war”–the one thing George W. Bush did right before he “took his eye off the ball” by invading Iraq. Not me. I realized that the invasion and subsequent occupation were doomed from the start. My Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment came while watching Afghan villagers sobbing outside a house being searched by U.S. troops. “The Russians never violated our homes,” an old man told me. As in many societies descended from nomads, Afghan culture dictates that a man’s home is truly his castle. “Even when they came to kill you, the Taliban knocked on the door and waited for you come out. They didn’t touch your wife or daughter. They never came inside. Never.”

I stared at the house’s front door, smashed and splintered after having been kicked in, and thought: They’ll never forgive us. Women were shrieking inside the house. The soldiers yelled at them: “Shut the f— up!” At least they did it in English, so they couldn’t understand. Hearts and minds.

I went to my rented room and filed a story with the headline: “How We Lost Afghanistan.” It was December 11, 2001.

Bush spent the following seven years sending more and more troops to Afghanistan: 8,000 at first, then 18,000, then 30,000. Afghan resistance fighters killed more and more of them. It became more dangerous to serve a tour of duty in America’s “forgotten war” than in Iraq. The more the size of the U.S. occupation force increased, street-level violence, warlordism and opium poppy cultivation spiraled out of control.

Chaos doesn’t come cheap. It costs $390,000 to sustain one American soldier overseas for one year.

Now Obama is “doubling down” on a “new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy,” reported The Washington Post. “Along with the 17,000 additional combat troops authorized last month, Obama said he will send at least 4,000 more this fall…” There were 38,000 when Obama took office. Soon there will be 55,000. By early next year, at least 70,000. Thousands of more will be moved from Iraq to Afghanistan. There have been few protests. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, we must be out of our collective minds.

I stand nearly alone in my long-running criticism of the Afghan war. But even if you disagree with my pessimistic assessment of the foreign policy repercussions of the “good war,” surely we can find common ground on the economic front.

The U.S. is broke. One cause is the $3 trillion we’ve already wasted on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. (With compound interest, that debt comes to over $10 trillion–or a dozen $700 billion Wall Street bailouts.) In a move that echoes Hitler’s misdirected obsessiveness, Obama is about to waste even more money we don’t have. According to the Pentagon’s notoriously rosy projections, Obama’s “Afghan surge” will increase the cost of that misbegotten quagmire (remember when right-wing pundits ridiculed those of us who used the Q-word to describe Afghanistan?) by 60 percent, up from the current $2 billion a month.

Millions are losing their jobs and their homes. Is this best the possible use of our federal taxdollars?

Obama says his war aims in Afghanistan are to fight insurgents, “train Afghan Security Forces,” improve the Afghan economy and reduce opium production. Of course, some of these goals are self-actualizing. If the U.S. withdrew, there wouldn’t be any insurgents. And Afghanistan wouldn’t need so many more security forces to keep order.

As for the Afghan economy and narcotics, Obama doesn’t stand a chance. “We’re pretty good about getting rid of old governments, but not really good at building new ones. I don’t think any other country has that skill, either,” said Gordon Adams, professor of foreign policy at American University and former Clintonista. “We can burn millions of dollars and lose thousands of American lives pretending we know how–but we don’t know how.”

And anyway: so what? As the real unemployment rate in the U.S. surpasses 20 percent and we sail off the cliff of fiscal oblivion, how can Obama justify spending hundreds of billions dollars more? To reduce unemployment in Afghan cities (while increasing it in the countryside, which depends on opium farming)? Even if Obama meets his metrics in Afghanistan, what’s in it for us?

In this Depression there’s still one gig with high job security: write a column for The New York Times that repeatedly gets everything wrong. Columnist David Brooks, one of the Dying Grey Lady’s resident neocons, agrees with Obama that seven years of bombing wedding parties isn’t enough. “This energetic and ambitious [Afghan troop surge] amid economic crisis and war weariness–says something profound about America’s DNA,” says he.

Maybe it does. Seventeen percent of Americans have German roots, more than any other ancestry group.

COPYRIGHT 2009 TED RALL

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39 Responses to “THIS WEEK’S SYNDICATED COLUMN: What Obama and Hitler Have in Common”

  1. Angelo Says:

    who here is scared of another country being the private security force for transnational corporations?

    That is what this is really about.

    Our community Organizer president finally has cabinet level info at his disposal, and he now knows that either we keep up the global empire, or China gets it.

    I for one could care less if transnationals make China fight all over the world, rather than us. It is someone else’s turn to fuck their children in the ass.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    This is a great column Ted. It deserves a bigger audience. But your title is too offensive, to misleading. It seems that you used it for shock value, but I’m afraid it will keep your poignant commentary on the fringes.

  3. Grouchy Says:

    Angelo, I don’t think China really wants the job. China is capable of taking the long view. They’re satisfied to sit back and watch the U.S. run amok all over the world and destroy itself for the short and medium term goals of transnationals…

  4. Kurt Says:

    There are some easy solutions to transnational corporations. Of course, since the U.S.(including Angelo) thinks that the “fairness doctrine,” which was designed to prevent corporate control of media outlets, is somehow limiting the free speech of individuals. The resulting media ownership by entirely corporate interests is the reason we never hear about the transnational corporation and its likelihood to have no loyalty to any country let alone the U.S. But that is for another day.

    Ted, as a former sovietologist and student of Daryl Hammer and Don Snow.. you are spot on here. You are arguing the same argument that Hammer used to argue regarding the soviet invasion. If the true sign of genius is reading your own ideas expressed well by others…

    Thanks.

  5. truteal Says:

    I wonder if the obamanatics will condemn you the same way they did to the right for saying the same thing

  6. Sean Says:

    Attention grabbing, but I think Kennedy/Vietnam might be a much better analogy. If you were trying to make a rational point.

  7. Susan Stark Says:

    There’s a moral difference between Nazis killing Jews and the US killing Muslims. At least the Muslims have some ability to fight back as armed fighters, while the Jews were largely defenseless.

    The notable exceptions being the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Sobibor Breakout.

  8. Orville Says:

    And, lest we forget, Obama has lengthened the Iraq deadline from 11 months after being sworn in (Early Campaign), to 16 months after being sworn in (Late Campaign) and now 19 months after being sworn in (Now). And, lest we forget, this doesn’t count the 50k “support troops” left there.

  9. Santiago Says:

    Susan,

    I see you are not part of the political action committee Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

    When Hitler took over the first thing he did was disarm the population. The Jews being a law abiding people gave up their guns.

    Thus when the Holocaust began they were indeed rather harmless. It would have been a much different situation if the Jews had either ignored the law or if it had never happened in the first place.

    If you want to get rid of a segment of the population: disarm them.

  10. Joe Blow Says:

    Susan,

    That’s dumb. Most of the people we kill are not fighters, and we bomb the crap out of them without them seeing it coming.

    Matt, I never thought the “war” was a good idea. Special ops guys using locals to break the government, isolate OBL and then a few battalions of rangers until we had his head… that I would pay for.

    endless wars against people who make their women wear bags over their heads? not for me.

    When people say the “good war” I say what’s so good about it?

    Iraq of course is worse. Or better if you are a contractor. Remember Afghan was NOT a “target rich environment.

  11. Harold Says:

    Absorbing your argument with due concentration right along to the last paragraph, and then … seriously? Germans are genetically crazy and have infected America? It’s not that it’s offensive… No, it’s obviously a joke to tie together whole argument to the shocker opening. It just seems reads like the entire article’s just a joke….

  12. Angelo Says:

    grouchy said to me:
    “China is capable of taking the long view.”

    Really? I don’t think so. The People’s Republic is really really new. Give capitalism a chance to really sink in.

  13. Hairhead Says:

    Good on most points, Ted, except for China. China will not get militarily involved in the world on America’s level because the present Chinese leaders can barely keep the country from breaking up into warlord states as it is.

    Triple the size of their army, train them, produce millions of weapons, and then let the soldiers (and captains, colonels, and generals) come back from military missions with a new view of the world and killing experience? Recipe for horrendously gory civil war.

    The Chinese would rather dominate through population and economics.

    Otherwise, spot on. America WILL go bankrupt if policies don’t change. (On a peripheral note, I see that Sarkozy is demanding strict financial regulation, or he — and France — walk. Good for him!)

  14. Ken Says:

    Ted,

    It’s ironic that one of Obama’s main goals in his term is to lessen the reliance on foreign oil, yet he continues the pursuit of controlling the Taj-Afgan-Paki pipeline. That to me has to be the only reason we’re still fighting in the middle east. It can’t be to protect freedom. They’re not looking for Bin Laden. It’s got to be oil and only oil at this point, or at least the mirage of seeming to control the resources, meaning let’s not let China or Russia control them…

  15. Flamingo Bob Says:

    Susan Stark said…
    There’s a moral difference between Nazis killing Jews and the US killing Muslims. At least the Muslims have some ability to fight back as armed fighters, while the Jews were largely defenseless.

    Pardon me? Killing muslims is somehow less morally objectionable because they resist? Doesn’t that mean there was a moral difference when the Nazis were murdering jews in the Warsaw Ghetto?

    Murder is murder, regardless of whether the victim tries to defend him/herself. It may make a difference from a *legal* standpoint, but from a moral standpoint the actions are equal.

  16. Albert Cirrus Says:

    Come on Ted, if you are going to compare Obama to Hitler over Afghanistan, you will have to do the same with the entire Democratic Party. In 2001, only Barbara Lee voted against the war and most the 2008 presidential candidates took the same position Obama is going to take with Afghanistan by increasing the troop levels. I think it would have been political suicide if Obama came out against it and we would have been stuck with 4 years of “McPain.” I’m not saying it’s right, but it would have been suicide.

  17. Grouchy Says:

    Maybe you’ve got a point, Angelo. I was thinking more about mid-century China.

    The People’s Republic as capitalistic dictatorship really is a new development.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Ted wrote:
    “…..seventeen percent of Americans have German roots…..”

    That was really uncalled for and
    unnecessary. If it makes you feel
    better, the Anglo-Saxons were also
    German tribes, the Angels and the
    Saxons. More German roots!!!
    But I agree with you. It is a dumb
    and unnecessary war.

  19. Angelo Says:

    albert said
    “I think it would have been political suicide if Obama came out against it and we would have been stuck with 4 years of “McPain.” I’m not saying it’s right, but it would have been suicide.

    Albert. The perfect may be the enemy of the good, but the good sucks!

    Here’s what should have happenned. McCain should have won so he could finish destroying the economy and the republican party.
    Then there would be real political will to make real change rather than this go-along-to-get-along, lemon socialism nonsense.

    Our hyper-conservative constitution only allows for change in extreme emergencies.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    President TelePrompter initiated missile strikes on Pakistani territory on Wednesday, killing 12 people in a Tribal Area which had never previously been attacked.

  21. False Prophet Says:

    Santiago, please stop spreading that ahistorical nonsense around. Hitler didn’t need to restrict gun ownership; the Weimar republic
    had already done so
    , partially motivated by gun violence between Communists, Nazis and Socialists at the time. The Third Reich did not alter Weimar’s gun restrictions until 1938–5 years after they came to power. So it was not “the first thing Hitler did”.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    There are few who were opposed to the entire shit storm when it started in 2000…so sad…so sad.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Angelo wrote:
    “McCain should have won, so he could finish destroying the economy
    and the republican party. Then there will be real political will to make real change”

    I respectfully disagree. If McCain
    had won, then Obama bullshitting and make-belief measures with no REAL change would have been delayed 4 or 8 years.
    But now with Obama talking the talk and NOT walking the walk,
    and NO REAL change
    then there will be a real political will to make REAL change.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Just don’t call it a surge.

  25. Angelo Says:

    another anonymous who should make a name already just to make the discussion more clear said:
    “But now with Obama talking the talk and NOT walking the walk,
    and NO REAL change
    then there will be a real political will to make REAL change.”

    Two party democracy dictates that the next regime has to be Republican.
    So there will be political will, but repugs will have to carry it out. good luck.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Ted- it’s not the same. The nazis killed many more jews than the number of muslims the U.S. our country has killed.

  27. synic3 Says:

    Anglo wrote:
    “So there will be political will,but repugs will have to carry
    it out.”

    But what I meant, hopefully, that the people have learnt their lesson and are fed up with both the Republicans and Democrats and there a drive toward a third populist party.
    I hope but I am not very optimistic. The average Joe/Jane
    are very politically naive, distracted and are continuously misinformed and lied to by the corporate MSM!! Bill O’Reilly program had the best ratings for
    the last 100 months???!!!!

  28. Susan Stark Says:

    Joe Blow says:

    Susan,

    That’s dumb. Most of the people we kill are not fighters, and we bomb the crap out of them without them seeing it coming.

    That’s absolutely true. But the Muslims, even though they can’t begin to match the firepower of the American military, have the ability to shoot back. They are armed.

    Which makes me more in agreement with Santiago on this. Maybe we should do like the Muslims and take up arms.

  29. Susan Stark Says:

    Flamingo Bob

    Pardon me? Killing muslims is somehow less morally objectionable because they resist? Doesn’t that mean there was a moral difference when the Nazis were murdering jews in the Warsaw Ghetto?

    Murder is murder, regardless of whether the victim tries to defend him/herself. It may make a difference from a *legal* standpoint, but from a moral standpoint the actions are equal.

    Perhaps I should have used Flamingo Bob’s term of “legal” instead of “moral” because that’s where the real difference lies. It’s not okay, in my book, to commit a war of aggression. However, I used the term “moral” because in this day and age, we can now press a button in Virginia and kill a village in Pakistan; it would be more “moral” to go to the militants themselves and take an equal risk of death as you want to give to them, rather than press a button and hit mostly the wrong people.

  30. Sean Says:

    Why would the Chinese get militant? They own you dudes and the PLA hasn’t had to rattle a sabre.

  31. Incitatus Says:

    Said Angelo: Our hyper-conservative constitution only allows for change in extreme emergencies.

    Isn’t that what constitutions are designed for? In that respect, the Cuban constitution is even more conservative than yours?

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Mr Rall,

    I have your ideas both refreshing and well-informed. However, I must take some offense at hinting that German ancestry means warlike behaviors. In PA, many of the local Dutch (Deutsch) have been at the forefront of pacifism in the US, including the Amish and Menonnites. PA Dutch also attempted to decline entry into WWI as there seemed to be no reason other than to help Great Britain.
    Assuming NAZI sympathies because of ancestry goes counter to nearly every post you have done concerning the Iraq and Afghan situations. Please have the same respect for those in the US that you have shown to those who live elsewhere.

    Mold

  33. Albert Cirrus Says:

    Angelo wrote:

    McCain should have won so he could finish destroying the economy and the republican party.

    I understand your philosophy, but I don’t think it works that way. With Obama at least we get some progressive/liberal stuff passed, with McPain in office, we get almost nothing. They 700+ billion dollar stimulus I agree was not enough, but McCain would have vetoed any bill that big. McCain would have appointed at least 2 more Supreme Court Justices that would still be giving their fascist opinions in 20 years. And if McCain himself croaked, imagine the “MesSarah’s” finger on the button so she could threaten “all those Russians I could see from my house who rear their ugly heads also.”

    I would not want to wish that on America.

  34. Flamingo Bob Says:

    I think what you’ve got hold of there, Ms. Stark, is a “fair fight” and yes the unfair nature of this war does offend the sensibilities.

    I don’t agree, however, that it would be more morally acceptable to tool down our soldiers to their level and have them meet in an even-steven, mano-a-mano fight. I think the only truly moral thing would be not to “go to” them at all, at least not for a fight.

    Some fair business dealing, some genuine development policies and a refusal to do business with corrupt regimes or to allow our companies from doing so would probably go a lot further. You never know. It just might work. It certainly hasn’t been tried yet.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her house. It was Tina Fey.

  36. Santiago Says:

    Anon 12:00am

    “Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her house. It was Tina Fey.”

    Yeah it’s kind of funny that the image we have from Sarah Palin doesn’t even come from her at all. We all remember Sarah Palin a.k.a. Tina Fey.

    Mold,

    Please do not reference the Amish people as a backdrop for German civilization. Those people are backward hypocrites who have no understanding of the Bible or anything else for that matter. In fact, if you want to talk about a close minded society that oppresses women to the fullest extent, you need not mention the Taliban, the Amish are the perfect example.

    Also, please do not try to justify it. The Wal Marts here in Indiana have f*ing horse buggy stables so they can go shopping at Wal Mart. I’ve seen them abuse their women plenty of times, enough to know.

    If you want an example of pacifists there were plenty of denominations who opposed the wars.

    Flamingo Bob,

    The point is that using impersonal technology on a people whose hearts and minds you are allegedly trying to change is not exactly the smartest idea. IF we were just trying to kill as many as possible with a lack of care then it would be ok.

    However, troops on the ground that respect their culture and use their culture to change them from within is the way to do it. However, so far we are acting like we don’t give a rats behind.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    Many German-Americans are descended from immigrants who came here specifically to escape European violence.

  38. Sean Says:

    “GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

    PALIN: They’re our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

    GIBSON: What insight does that give you into what they’re doing in Georgia?

    PALIN: Well, I’m giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially Russia. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it’s in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along. “

  39. Anonymous Says:

    What a blindness. There are millions of miles betwen American policy in Afghanistan and the Nazy genocide.

    Please, just keep drawing. Your political point of view is simply ridiculous.

    Let me say. Go to know the world. And please, read a little bit more.

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