The Next Hitler or Stalin or Mao

Was Gaddafi another Hitler or a potential Hitler? On August 26, 2011, The Guardian ran an article titled “From Hitler to Gaddafi: dictators and their bunkers”. Beneath the title, another line added Saddam Hussein: “Gaddafi, Hitler, Saddam … no self-respecting dictator…”

Earlier in July, The Atlantic noted the rhetoric of Senator Lindsey Graham:

“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned on Tuesday that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is ‘serious’ about attacking European cities in order to pressure European officials to cease their airstrikes against Libya.”

“‘He actually means it,’ Graham said of Gadhafi. ‘Hitler meant it. He means it.'”

There is an academic article from 2009 that evaluates the psychological profiles of Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler, finding them much alike. It’s titled “Is Kim Jong-il like Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler? A personality disorder evaluation”.

Joseph Sassoon in his book Anatomy of Authoritarianism in the Arab Republics cites two books that reach the opposite conclusions:

“A psychiatric evaluation of Saddam Hussein with a more balanced approach rightly concluded that ‘there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein is suffering from a psychotic disorder. He is not crazy in a psychiatric sense. By any psychological measure, he is in touch with reality.’ Likewise in Libya, one scholar explained that Qaddafi had clear ideas when it came to foreign policy…”

In an article in The Daily Caller, neocon Jamie Weinstein criticized Ron Paul’s foreign policy recommendations at length, concluding “However you look at it, if Ron Paul were president during the late 1930s and early 1940s, the 20th Century would not be remembered as the American Century. It would have been the Nazi Century.” Alex Jones provided a rebuttal. His article was titled “Neocon Says Ron Paul Would Appease Hitler and the Nazis”.

Neocon ideas have contributed greatly to U.S. wars in one country after another. These American-initiated wars have been utter disasters from many perspectives except that of the warmonger and war complex. The neocons often make the appeasement argument to support these wars. They often compare their targets to such men as Hitler. For examples, see this Time magazine article dated August 31, 2006. The appeasement argument has been adopted by the top level of the U.S. government and has been propagated widely to the American public. The Time article mentions “And today, in his speech to the Legion, President Bush described Islamic terrorists as the ‘successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century.’

A common neocon argument for American military intervention is that we shouldn’t appease foreign dictators or bad guys or enemies, because if we do not stop them with force and take them out, they’ll add territory and become even worse threats. The appeasement argument rings a Pavlovian bell. It reminds people of 1938 Munich and Hitler. Americans are told that if they so not stop Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi or Bashar al-Assad, that’s appeasement and it will breed the next Hitler or Stalin or Mao, a mass murderer. For example, in the Time article, we find the appeasement argument expressed by Bush:

“Thus the administration truly is committed to staying the course, at least metaphorically. In his March 2003 speech giving Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq, the President said, ‘In the 20th century, some chose to appease murderous dictators, whose threats were allowed to grow into genocide and global war. In this century, when evil men plot chemical, biological and nuclear terror, a policy of appeasement could bring destruction of a kind never before seen on this earth.’ During the 2004 campaign, Bush and Vice President Cheney frequently invoked appeasement as well, saying that, as the President put it, ‘America is not to blame for terrorist hatred, and no retreat by America would appease them.’ And now, with support for withdrawal from Iraq growing, the Administration is suggesting that withdrawal would constitute appeasement of the terrorists — part of its long-term effort to link Iraq with al-Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Today, we find articles arguing that Putin is another Hitler, and this implies not appeasing him, i.e., stopping him now. Paul Johnson writing in 2014 in Forbes has such an article. He writes “Today’s drift toward war with Russia seems like a replay of the past. Putin is a Russian nationalist, who believes in a strong Stalinist state. His goal is to reverse the events of 1989–the end of the Soviet state and dissolution of its enormous empire.” He writes “What’s to stop Putin? The West is led by the modern equivalents of Chamberlain…”

We very badly need to understand what factors actually produce mass murderers. It is entirely obvious that America should not go to war merely on the accusation that some leader is another Hitler or potential Hitler or that not to attack such a person’s country and people is appeasement. If we do this, we are going to incur huge costs, as we have done, and create interminable wreckage around the world. This is going to lead to the downfall of our country.

We should not go along with the neocon argument that doing nothing is appeasement and that appeasement signals a need for American intervention. Appeasement is too vague a term. It’s too crude and too broad. Neocons can suggest appeasement and call for American intervention in dozens of cases where governments are murdering people or causing mass death by warfare, blockades, starvation and other means. They can also suggest appeasement and call for intervention in the very different situation when there are only possible threats of future threats. If we adopt the neocon argument as Bush did, we will be at war perpetually and globally. We will be wrecking the world as we have already wrecked Iraq and Libya and as we are wrecking Yemen through aid to Saudi Arabia. We will be fighting in Syria and Somalia, in Afghanistan and eventually a dozen or more countries in Africa. We will be raising tensions with nuclear power Russia over Ukraine and nuclear power China over some tiny islands. We will be confronted with dilemmas in Korea and eastern Europe, with Iran and with Israel.

There are innumerable cases where local dictators could become stronger. Nearly all are not a potential Hitler or Stalin or Mao. We need to distinguish real threats to Americans from mere possibilities, because it is very costly to intervene.

We need to identify what factors induce a government to become a mass murdering government as well as a threat to our own lives. We need also to turn the analysis on ourselves and our government. We attacked Iraq wrongly. How many deaths did Bush bring about directly and indirectly? Estimates vary widely, but all are large. Iraq Body Count estimated 119,915 between 2003-2011. The Watson Institute estimated “165,000 civilians have died from direct war related violence caused by the US, its allies, the Iraqi military and police, and opposition forces from the time of the invasion through April 2015.” A new and in-depth study places the death toll at 500,000.

The size of deaths in Iraq qualifies George W. Bush as a recent, visible and living mass murderer. He became a mass murderer by starting this war. If we look at other large mass murderers, what do we find? Like Bush, they are invariably in positions of power as leaders of states. They have the power to kill and they exercise that power. They have different reasons for their killing. They have different goals. The forms of government vary. The main thing is that they possess the power as heads of state and they decide to use it. We need to know why they do this. At a minimum, they think they can get away with it.

Another American example is Abraham Lincoln. Under his presidency, 620,000 Americans lost their lives because of the war he insisted on waging to prevent the secession of southern states. William McKinley in 1899 committed U.S. forces to prevent Philippine independence and to annex the Philippines. This resulted in the Philippine-American War: “The ensuing Philippine-American War lasted three years and resulted in the death of over 4,200 American and over 20,000 Filipino combatants. As many as 200,000 Filipino civilians died from violence, famine, and disease.” Closer to the present time, the American killing in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia will add Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon to the roll call of American mass murdering chiefs of state.

The topic of mass killing by governments is a large one. R.J. Rummel is a notable researcher in this field. His conclusions are as follows:

“In sum, among a variety of socio-economic, cultural, social diversity, geographic, and other indicators, the best way of accounting for and predicting democide is by the degree to which a regime is totalitarian. That is, the extent to which a regime controls absolutely all social, economic, and cultural groups and institutions, the degree to which its elite can rule arbitrarily, largely accounts for the magnitude and intensity of genocide and mass murder. The best assurance against this democide is the democratic openness, political competition, regularly scheduled elections, and limited government of a free people.”

America apparently has a democratic form but not the substance to which Rummel refers. Otherwise, how are we to explain its mass-murdering behavior? There can be competition politically on the surface, but actual rule by a smaller continuing group that makes war when it pleases. There can be regular elections but no real anti-war candidates. There can be a free people but one that supports warfare. There can be the pretense and ideology of limited government but an actual unlimited government in place.

Rummel notes that it’s power that matters, not cultural factors:

“That Power kills is the primary and for domestic democide singular general explanation of democide. This is true even when we consider how regimes differ in their underlying ethnic, religious, and racial diversity. It is true when we consider whether they are Christian or Moslem, or the cultural region they are from. It is true when taking into account their different levels of education or economic development. It is true for their differences in sheer size. And it also is true even for the trend of overall democide through time.”

He also concludes

“However, the tendency of regimes to fight severe domestic rebellions or foreign wars also predicts to democide. But for both rebellions and wars Power is also a causal agent. The more totalitarian a regime’s power, the more total its wars or rebellions are likely to be; and the more totalitarian power and bloody its wars and rebellions, the more it probably will commit democide.”

If we look a top ten list of only dictators who were mass murderers, we find that there is no one reason or goal that’s in common. The capacity to exercise power is a key factor, as Rummel suggests.

“10. Yakubu Gowon (1.1 million deaths)

Breakdown: 1 million civilians on the wrong side of a blockade caused by a war of secession in Nigeria and 100,000 soldiers who died in that war.

9. Mengistu Haile Mariam (400,000 – 1.5 million deaths)

Breakdown: As president of Ethiopia and colonel of “the Derg” (communist militia) Mengitsu systematically killed those against him in the “Red Terror” campaign.

8. Kim Il Sung (1.6 million deaths)

Breakdown: Unpopular among his people Kim used the U.S. as a scapegoat and forced the country to believe in his delusion or else.

7. Pol Pot (1.7 million deaths)

Breakdown: Forced city folk to relocate to farms and forced them into hard labor.

6. Ismail Enver Pasha (2.5 million deaths)

Breakdown: 1,200,000 Armenians (1915) + 350,000 Greek Pontians and 480,000 Anatolian Greeks (1916-22) + 500,000 Assyrians (1915-20)

5. Hideki Tojo (5 million deaths)

Breakdown: Waged unprovoked wars against China, USA, Netherlands, and France.

4. Leopold II of Belgium (2-15 million deaths)

Breakdown: Created a colony called the “Congo Free State”, enslaved its people, and forced them into labor plants.

3. Adolf Hitler (17 million deaths)

Breakdown: Concentration camps and civilians in WWII.

2. Jozef Stalin (23 million deaths)

Breakdown: The great purges and Ukraine’s famine.

1. Mao Zedong (49-78 million deaths)

Breakdown: Policy reforms like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.”

We need not look overseas for the next Hitler, Stalin or Mao. We should stop listening to the warmongers who are all too ready to identify another Milošević, Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, Ahmadinejad, or al-Baghdadi as a big-league mass murderer. We should not build up Putin as another Stalin-in-waiting when there is absolutely no reason for it. We should not be so short-sighted as to confront China.

We should be aware that our own state is prone to mass murder because we have allowed the concentration of power at its apex. Our own leaders make war when, as and if they see fit, only taking the time to propagandize anew a public that only spasmodically resists the propaganda.

The anti-war resistance has only occasionally made an impact on our leadership to restrain these wars. Johnson was a one-term president. Nixon was brought down by another route. 9/11 gave Bush and the neocons perfect cover for expanding war under the name of fighting terror. Now the warmongers have latched on to Russia and China as enemies.

We do not have limited government. We have a large standing military. We have a national security state. We have departments and agencies within government that have quasi-military forces. We have increasingly militarized police forces locally. We have a surveillance state.

So far, the excessive U.S. power has been turned mainly against foreign peoples in aggressive wars. However, in the War on Drugs, this power has been turned against Americans themselves. The power has been used to imprison very great numbers of civilians. The large prison population in America is a clear and strong sign of the totalitarianism within and its potential for victimizing even larger numbers of Americans. It would not take much for a president or an administration, Democratic or Republican, to find an excuse to lock down America and implement martial law.

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8:29 am on March 19, 2017

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