Tuesday, 28 January 2003

The Wartime Deceptions - Saddam Is Hitler And It's Not About Oil

by Robert Fisk

click here to visit his website The Israeli writer Uri Avnery once delivered a wickedly sharp open letter to Menachem Begin, the Israeli prime minister who sent his army to defeat in Lebanon. Enraged by Begin's constant evocation of the Second World War - likening Yasser Arafat in Beirut to Hitler in his Berlin bunker in 1945 - Avnery entitled his letter: "Mr Prime Minister, Hitler is Dead."

How often I have wanted to repeat his advice to Bush and Blair. Obsessed with their own demonisation of Saddam Hussein, both are now reminding us of the price of appeasement. Bush thinks that he is the Churchill of America, refusing the appeasement of Saddam. Now the US ambassador to the European Union, Rockwell Schnabel, has compared Saddam to Hitler. "You had Hitler in Europe and no one really did anything about him," Schnabel lectured the Europeans in Brussels a week ago: "We knew he could be dangerous but nothing was done. The same type of person [is in Baghdad] and it's there that our concern lies." Mr Schnabel ended this infantile parallel by adding unconvincingly that "this has nothing to do with oil".

How can the sane human being react to this pitiful stuff? One of the principal nations which "did nothing about Hitler" was the US, which enjoyed a profitable period of neutrality in 1939 and 1940 and most of 1941 until it was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. And when the Churchill-Roosevelt alliance decided that it would only accept Germany's unconditional surrender - a demand that shocked even Churchill when Roosevelt suddenly announced the terms at Casablanca - Hitler was doomed.

Not so Saddam it seems. For last week Donald Rumsfeld offered the Hitler of Baghdad a way out: exile, with a suitcase full of cash and an armful of family members if that is what he wished. Funny, but I don't recall Churchill or Roosevelt ever suggesting that the Nazi führer should be allowed to escape. Saddam is Hitler - but then suddenly, he's not Hitler after all. He is - said The New York Times - to be put before a war crimes tribunal. But then he's not. He can scoot off to Saudi Arabia or Latin America. In other words, he's not Hitler.

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