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"Saddam Hussein was not Hitler"

Saddam Hussein Hitler Comparison Iraq

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#1 Drew

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:21 AM

In another thread, Zack stated that "Saddam Hussein was not Hitler" . . . and I've just divorced it from its context.

But here's my question:

Was he worse than Hitler? Ever since WWII, Hitler's name has become synonymous with evil. He's a symbol for the worst that humanity can do to humanity. He didn't just wage war; he was attempting genocide.

But. Since so many of Saddam Hussein's atrocities have come to light after the war, I'm wondering if he makes Hitler seem like a humanitarian in comparison. We have uncovered mass graves, some that contained children who were buried alive, clutching their toys. We had at least a couple prisons dedicated solely to the incarceration of children (some of whom had been in prison for 5 years before being liberated). We have gruesome tales of some of the worse kinds of torture imaginable--tongues cut off, high-voltage applied to the genitals, women hung upsidedown while they were menstruating, and things I simply cannot type. There are thousands of people who simply disappeared.

Does evil need a new name? Does Hitler pale in comparison? Will Saddam Hussein become the new hallmark of ultimate evil?

Or does someone want to name another candidate?

Edited by Drew, 28 June 2003 - 06:22 AM.

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#2 Rov Judicata

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:23 AM

The *main* difference is that Saddam was contained and Hitler was being appeased. Hitler was building a war machine, and Saddam's military was decimated.

The historical situations are simply not comparable.
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#3 Rhea

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:26 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Jun 27 2003, 12:24 PM, said:

The *main* difference is that Saddam was contained and Hitler was being appeased. Hitler was building a war machine, and Saddam's military was decimated.

The historical situations are simply not comparable.
Saddam was a two-bit tinhorn compared with Hitler. He simply didn't have the scope to reach Hitler or Stalin's level of atrocities (a smaller pool of potential victims, luckily).
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#4 Cardie

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:27 AM

If you read any eyewitness account of the concentration camps (or go to the Holocaust museum in Washington) you'll find out about similar atrocities, and almost all children under working age who arrived there were immediately gassed, including infants. Hitler had an incredible reach and committed genocide on a mass-industrialized scale. But all these totalitarian dictators would have done such things if they could. Tales from Rwanda, Congo, Cambodia are just as horrific, simply not in the news at the moment.

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#5 Bad Wolf

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:28 AM

What Rhea and Rov said.

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#6 Drew

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:28 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Jun 27 2003, 02:24 PM, said:

The historical situations are simply not comparable.
I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about our perceptions of the two men and the atrocities committed against other human beings.

Hitler's name is invoked so often we have what's come to be called "Godwin's law."

Quote

Godwin's Law    prov.     [Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. However there is also a widely-recognized codicil that any intentional triggering of Godwin's Law in order to invoke its thread-ending effects will be unsuccessful.

But maybe Hitler's atrocities were just child's play compared to the kind of stuff that went on under Saddam Hussein.
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#7 Drew

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:32 AM

Cardie, on Jun 27 2003, 02:28 PM, said:

If you read any eyewitness account of the concentration camps (or go to the Holocaust museum in Washington) you'll find out about similar atrocities, and almost all children under working age who arrived there were immediately gassed, including infants. Hitler had an incredible reach and committed genocide on a mass-industrialized scale.
Yeah, but maybe it was the "industrialization" of death that makes it look "cleaner" (and boy do I hate writing that). Also, there's something about how Saddam Hussein turned his death machine on his own people, and apparently ruled out of fear alone. Hitler (while certainly doing what he could to cleanse Germany of its Jews) turned his efforts outward.

Quote

But all these totalitarian dictators would have done such things if they could. Tales from Rwanda, Congo, Cambodia are just as horrific, simply not in the news at the moment.

Yes, granted. Yet we continue to use Hitler as our Evil Exemplar. It's gotten almost trite. Do we need a new symbol?

Edited by Drew, 28 June 2003 - 06:34 AM.

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#8 Rhea

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:34 AM

No!  I think the Nazis will continue to work just fine as the poster children for the absolute worst in human behavior.  :Oo:
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#9 Bad Wolf

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:39 AM

What Rhea said.

And um, the idea that people really think that Hitler and what he did as poster exemplars of evil is trite is something I just can't wrap my mind around.

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#10 Kevin Street

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:40 AM

Hitler's Nazis killed at least fifteen million people. So no, I don't think it's even close.

Saddam is more like Stalin than Hitler anyway, since Koba was his inspiration. But he was (Is?) better contained than Stalin, as others have pointed out.

Sadly, the evil perpetuated by Saddam's regime is far from unique. It's happening right now, all over the world, in dozens of different countries.
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#11 Drew

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:41 AM

Maybe I just feel that by using Hitler all the time we're somehow ignoring the atrocities committed by other regimes. I've been making a concerted effort to not always rely on the Hitler-comparison.
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#12 Drew

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:42 AM

Una Salus Lillius, on Jun 27 2003, 02:40 PM, said:

And um, the idea that people really think that Hitler and what he did as poster exemplars of evil is trite is something I just can't wrap my mind around.
Oh, dear. No, I should have picked a better word. By "trite" I meant that it's become a "cliché."
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#13 Ogami

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:46 AM

The important comparison is not with Hussein to Hitler, they were different men of different times and circumstances, as Zack may be wont to say.

The real comparison, adopted by president Bush, is of those worthless cowardly nations of today who had equivalents during the 1930s, those leaders who worked to appease a potential mass murderer rather than deal with him. We dealt with him in World War II, we dealt with him today so he wouldn't be the next Hitler.

Whether free nations act against a man with clearly aggressive behavior is up to them. The allies chose not to act until it was too late in World War II, hundreds of millions died needlessly and the corpse of Communist slavery got a breath of life from its new conquered territories. That lesson apparently is lost on a great many leaders and countries. Thank goodness Bush (a 'C' student) knows history better than they do and acted.

Chew on that, Chirac and the rest. Bush is a better student of history than you knuckleheads.

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#14 Enmar

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:52 AM

Drew, on Jun 27 2003, 10:33 PM, said:

Cardie, on Jun 27 2003, 02:28 PM, said:

If you read any eyewitness account of the concentration camps (or go to the Holocaust museum in Washington) you'll find out about similar atrocities, and almost all children under working age who arrived there were immediately gassed, including infants. Hitler had an incredible reach and committed genocide on a mass-industrialized scale.
Yeah, but maybe it was the "industrialization" of death that makes it look "cleaner" (and boy do I hate writing that). Also, there's something about how Saddam Hussein turned his death machine on his own people, and apparently ruled out of fear alone. Hitler (while certainly doing what he could to cleanse Germany of its Jews) turned his efforts outward.

But that's the point that keeps Hitler different from the others. Saadam wasn't trying to get rid of his people, he ruled through fear, as many others these days and in history did. I don't see how he's different from them, he's only in the spotlight, as Cardie said.

Death for him was a tool, to serve a purpose. For Hitler it was the goal, and that's why he stands alone (If anyone gets anywhere near him, I'll give that credit to the genocide of the Armenian people in WWI)
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#15 Drew

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 06:55 AM

I'm not really talking about how we dealt with them, Ogami.
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#16 Ogami

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 07:02 AM

you asked:

Was he worse than Hitler?

My answer is no, simply because Saddam was dealt with before he become the Pashah of the Middle East and Israel became a smoking radioactive crater. The same for der Fuhrer, he wouldn't have been such a menace if he had been kept in that prison as a Austrian corporal. It's all a matter of timing.

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#17 Drew

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 07:13 AM

Ogami, on Jun 27 2003, 03:03 PM, said:

Was he worse than Hitler?

My answer is no, simply because Saddam was dealt with before he become the Pashah of the Middle East and Israel became a smoking radioactive crater.
Ah. I see what you were trying to say.
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#18 G1223

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 07:34 AM

Both of them are second string to Stalin. The man was a monster .
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#19 Belbo

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 08:11 AM

Drew, on Jun 27 2003, 08:22 PM, said:

Was he worse than Hitler? Ever since WWII, Hitler's name has become synonymous with evil.
No, he wasn't (IMO, of course).

There's a quite simple reason why Hitler remains the scariest of them all - a democracy actually voted him into power. He then managed to corrupt a modern, western nation with a rich cultural history through both a ghastly charisma and a calculated appeal to the worst of human instincts, with results of which we're all well aware.

Stalin, Saddam, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and the Rwandan Interahamwe may have rivalled (or even surpassed) old Adolf for sheer savagery, but all of them were part of a tradition of absolute power which tended to throw up cruel tyrants every few generations or so - nothing Stalin did would have shocked Ivan the Terrible, for instance, and Saddam is probably no worse than some of the Ottoman emperors were in terms of sadism (and genocide).

Westerners like to think we're grown beyond that sort of behaviour, but the Nazis provide a chilling reminder of just what people will vote for if they've been sufficiently stirred to resentment and suspicion of a given minority(s). Even today it's hardly something to be complacent about - we get the occasional neo-Nazi local politicians here in the UK in areas with high refugee concentrations, and it's barely a decade since David Duke (American Nazi Party, KKK and Republican Party) won the support of a majority of Louisiana's white voters when he ran for the US Senate ....
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#20 Drew

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 08:29 AM

Belbo, on Jun 27 2003, 04:12 PM, said:

There's a quite simple reason why Hitler remains the scariest of them all - a democracy actually voted him into power. He then managed to corrupt a modern, western nation with a rich cultural history through both a ghastly charisma and a calculated appeal to the worst of human instincts, with results of which we're all well aware.
A valid argument. Best one yet, IMHO. However, I was going to use the same argument to suggest that Hitler's was therefore a more "civilized" (for lack of a better word) evil, whereas Saddam, et al, are a more barbaric form. It's a toss up which version you find to be the more evil "evil."
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