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Distorting Fascism to Demonize Iran

By       Message Ismael Hossein-zadeh       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   9 comments

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In their frantic drive to pave the way for a military strike against Iran, leading figures in the neoconservative pro-Israel lobby have embarked on a vicious campaign of demonizing that country by comparing it with the early years of Nazi Germany and its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with Hitler.

These champions of war and militarism are the same trigger happy characters who helped orchestrate the criminal war against Iraq on the basis of ghastly lies and criminal fabrications of evidence. Instead of being held responsible for all of the grisly lies and evidence manufacturing, they are let loose to once again beat the drums of war—this time against Iran.

Top among these civilian militarists are Norm Podhoretz, a senior foreign policy adviser to the Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, and the leader of Israel’s Likud Party Benjamin Netanyahu. These are part of the leading members of the “war party” that include, among others, Vice President Dick Cheney in the White House and Elliot Abrams in the State Department.

Podhoretz’s wild charges of fascism against Ahmadinejad, Iran, and Islam—at times bordering on delirium and self-parody—are unabashedly spelled out in his recently published book, “World War IV: the Long Struggle against Islamofascism.” Although Elliot Cohen was the original author of the concept of World War IV, Norman Podhoretz has been the major popularizer of the concept. Describing the Cold War as World War III, he sets out to explain both the rationale for the projected World War IV and the strategies to win it.

To explain the “looming world conflagration” that is allegedly predicated on the conduct of militant Islam, he begins by asserting that "the malignant force of radical Islamism" has as its objective "to conquer our land" and to destroy "everything good for which America stands." After a long and discursive detailing of how and why Islam is incompatible with progress and modernization, and how it therefore poses a serious threat to Western values, he then argues that, “to fend off the menace of militant Islam,” the United States needs to resolutely engage in a long, drawn out war in the Muslim world that can be called World War IV.[1]

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Benjamin Netanyahu has also frequently called upon the Bush administration to launch a military strike against Iran on the grounds that, “like Nazi Germany,” it is a menace to world peace: "It's 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs. . . . Believe him [Ahmadinejad] and stop him. . . . This is what we must do. Everything else pales before this." While the Iranian president “denies the Holocaust,” Netanyahu said, "he is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state."[2]

Senator Lieberman’s characterization of Ahmadinejad as being another Hitler is somewhat subtle and indirect: “I'm proud that I co-sponsored that bipartisan resolution calling for regime change in Iran because there are some leaders you can't negotiate with. Look at what Ahmadinejad has said. History reminds us in the case of Hitler and Osama bin Laden that they said exactly what they ultimately did. . . . We need to be working with people in Iran, who hate this government, to help them overthrow it.”[3]

Anyone even faintly familiar with the socio-economic and historical characteristics of fascism would dismiss these wild accusations and characterizations of Iran as bogus. Ahmadinejad differs from Hitler on a number of major grounds.

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To begin with, Ahmadinejad is known as a grassroots leader or fighter, not an agent or collaborator of big business, as would be the case with fascist or fascistic figures and characters. Indeed, he came to power by challenging and running against the presidential candidate of big business, whereas fascist leaders like Hitler or Mussolini were promoted by big business.

Second, Hitler represented an expansionist imperial power. By contrast, Ahmadinejad (and the Iranian government in general) represent an anti-imperialist challenge or force in the Middle East that harbors no expansionist ambitions or territorial claims.

Third, Hitler was an unrivaled and unchallenged dictator. He had complete monopoly of power; not only commanding the German armed forces, but also controlling all the branches of government and, indeed, the entire German society. By contrast, Ahmadinejad is not a dictator; he is an elected president without much power. The real power rests with the “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is commander in chief of all of Iran's armed forces. Khamenei has the final say on all major foreign policy issues.

Ahmadinejad is also constantly and relentlessly challenged by both the parliament and the Judiciary. For example, the legislature rejected more than two-thirds of his recommendations for ministers, which meant that it took nearly a year before his cabinet was fully staffed.

As intelligent and educated individuals, Lieberman, Podhoretz, Netanyahu and their neoconservative cohorts must certainly be aware of these glaring differences between Hitler and Ahmadinejad, or between today’s Iran and the late 1930s Nazi Germany.

So, why are they disregarding such obvious differences and deliberately obfuscating the historic characteristics of fascism?

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The answer is clear: they want to justify another war of aggression, a military strike against Iran.

The more fundamental question, however, is why do they want to attack Iran?

The answer, in a nutshell, is that the pro-Israel lobby is determined to eliminate any and all obstacles to the continued occupation of the Palestinian land. And since the lobby views Iran as one of those obstacle, it is therefore driven to demonize that country as the next target of a military strike. All other publicly stated or implied reasons such as national interests, democratic ideals, Iran’s nuclear technology, and the like are simply harebrained pretexts for achieving this overriding goal.

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Ismael Hossein-zadeh is a professor of economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of the newly published book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism His Web page is

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