Bush, Chavez, and Hitler

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U.S. officials become angry and indignant when someone compares the Bush administration’s policies to those of the Hitler regime. Even government officials at the local level get upset over the comparison, as reflected by the public schoolteacher who is under investigation for comparing Bush’s policies to those of Hitler in his classroom.

Ironically, however, the anger and indignation felt by U.S. officials when someone compares Bush’s policies to those of Hitler does not stop U.S. officials from comparing foreign leaders to Hitler.

The most recent example was when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld compared Venezuela’s democratically elected president, Hugo Chavez, to Hitler, saying, “He’s a person who was elected legally — just as Hitler was elected legally — and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and Morales and others.”

When Rumsfeld compares Chavez to Hitler, he’s obviously not suggesting that Chavez is setting up deaths camps to commit another Holocaust. He’s simply saying that Chavez, like Hitler, is “consolidating power” and working closely with foreign rulers who, like Chavez, refuse to submit to the dictates of the U.S. Empire.

Consider Fidel Castro. The beef that U.S. officials have with Castro is not that he has imposed a communist/socialist order in Cuba. After all, U.S. officials fully support the types of socialist programs that Castro has put into place, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, income taxation, gun control, drug laws, occupational licensure, and equalization of income. U.S. officials even have no problems repatriating Cuban refugees back into Castro’s communism.

Their primary beef with Castro is that he simply has always refused to become a member of the U.S. Empire and thereby do the bidding of U.S. officials, like his predecessor Fulgencio Batista did. If Castro had done that, U.S. officials would no more complain about what he did inside Cuba than they complain about what their unelected military dictator in Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, does inside his country. Musharraf, of course, became a full-fledged, fully paid member of the U.S. Empire after 9/11, eagerly accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid and presumably abandoning his deeply held, pre-9/11 commitment to the Taliban.

It’s the same thing with Bolivia’s newly elected president Evo Morales, to whom Rumsfeld was referring when he compared Chavez to Hitler. The immediate beef that U.S. officials have with Morales is that he’s going “independent” by threatening to end the war on drugs in Bolivia, a war that has torn not only Bolivia apart but also Colombia, Mexico, and many other Latin American nations. The problem, however, is that U.S. federal officials need this war — their budgets depend on it and their jobs depend on it. In fact, for some government officials, both at the state and federal level, their bribes depend on it. Thus, despite the fact that the drug war has totally failed to accomplish its objective — the elimination of drugs and drug abuse in the United States — as a recent official U.S. government report reflects, U.S. officials demand that foreign regimes continue waging it. That’s one reason they’re upset with Morales — he’s not buying into the drug-war nonsense. And so they’re expressing their displeasure with Morales by suggesting that he is now associating with “Hitler.”

Ironically, even as Rumsfeld calls Chavez “Hitler” for consolidating power, no one can deny that ever since 9/11, Bush has done everything he can to “consolidate power,” as evidenced by the USA PATRIOT Act, the unconstitutional assumption of power to declare war, the illegal attack and war of aggression on a country that had never attacked the United States, the illegal spying on Americans by recording their telephone conversations without a judicially issued warrant, the jailing and punishment of Americans without due process of law, illegal kidnapping and “rendition” of prisoners to foreign regimes for the purposes of torture, and of course the illegal torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of detainees by U.S. forces.

Unfortunately, when U.S. officials such as Rumsfeld compare Chavez to Hitler for “consolidating power,” their own arrogance and hubris prevent them from seeing that President Bush has been doing the exact same thing ever since 9/11 — and arguably to a much greater extent than Chavez — “consolidating power.” While they have no hesitancy in placing the label of “Hitler” on foreign leaders for doing so, U.S. officials scratch their heads in befuddlement when foreigners place the label of “hypocrites” upon them.

March 7, 2006

Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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