Fighting Them There Rather than Here: From Hitler to Bush

George W. Bush: “It’s better to fight them there than here.” (May 24, 2007; also see September 22, 2003)

Adolph Hitler: “We are fighting on such distant fronts to protect our own homeland, to keep the war as far away as possible, and to forestall what would otherwise be the fate of the nation as a whole.” (November 8, 1942)


  1. Bart April 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm | #

    They were both against trade unions, too.

  2. Ronald Pires (@BenedictAtLarge) April 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm | #

    Isn’t there some sort of rule against Hitler references? I think some fascist sympathizer came up with it.

    • swallerstein April 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm | #

      It’s called the reductio ad hitlerum

      • BillW April 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm | #

        Ironically the scholar who came up with that variation on reductio ad absurdum was Leo Strauss, lionized as a champion of liberal democratic values by his Neoconservative defenders from the perch of their regular New York Times op-eds. Yet despite being a Jewish outcast from Hitler’s Germany he also considered ‘fascism as a legitimate bearer of “the principles of the right” and had no trouble ’embracing [these values], namely: fascism, authoritarianism and imperialism…and [in proceeding] to ridicule the Enlightenment values of inalienable rights, quoting the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen from 1789 (though he could just as easily have quoted the American Declaration of Independence).

        While comparisons with the Fascists or Nazis can turn into a linguistic game, one also needs to realize that there has been a concerted effort since almost May ’45 to ‘dismiss Nazism as an anti-western aberration’ which is ‘diametrically opposed’ to the Liberal-Democratic world we live in; ‘there is no point of contact, no proximity, and no continuity between the two’. This is equally if not more dangerous than flippantly throwing around analogies with Fascist regimes, as has been emphasized in newer scholarship.

      • Brian West April 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm | #

        Enlightenment values should definitely be spurned. They helped foster the current decadence of the West.

  3. jonnybutter April 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | #

    I would note that this post is not any kind of reductio because it isn’t an argument. More like bait.

  4. Chase April 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm | #

    There’s an echo of both quotes in Chapter 3 of Machiavelli’s The Prince. On the Romans refusing to let troubles develop for the sake of avoiding war, he writes: “This was why they wanted to wage war against Philip and Antiochus in Greece, so that they could avoid having to fight them in Italy….”

    If I had to choose which one of them to have a beer with, I’d pick Machiavelli every time. You just know he’d tell the best stories.

  5. Brian West April 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm | #

    “Besides, there is more that binds us to Bolshevism than separates us from it. There is, above all, genuinely revolutionary feeling, which is alive everywhere in Russia except where there are Jewish Marxists. I have always made allowance for this circumstance, and given orders that former Communists are to be admitted to the party at once. The petit bourgeois Social Democrat and the trade union boss will never make a National Socialist, but the Communist always will.”
    — Adolf Hitler, 1934

    • Corey Robin April 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm | #

      “The Marxist movement is destroying the foundation of all human cultural life. Wherever this movement breaks through, it must destroy human culture. The future of Germany means: destruction of Marxism. Either Marxism poisons the people, their Germany is ruined, or the poison is going to be eliminated…For us, Germany will be saved on the day on which the last Marxist has either been converted or broken.” — Adolph Hitler, speech in his defense at Beer Hall Putsch trial, 1924

      “[Marx’s] doctrine is a brief spiritual extract of the philosophy of life that is generally current today. And for this reason alone any struggle of our so-called bourgeois world against it is impossible, absurd in fact, since this bourgeois world is also essentially infected by these poisons, and worships a view of life which in general is distinguished from the Marxists only by degrees and personalities. The bourgeois world is Marxist, but believes in the possibility of the rule of certain groups of men (bourgeoisie), while Marxism itself systematically plans to hand the world over to the Jews. IN OPPOSITION TO THIS, the volkisch view recognizes the importance of the racial subdivisions of mankind….in contrast to the disorganizing effect of Marxism, it has an organizing effect.” — Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1926

      “If we did not exist, already today there would be no more bourgeoisie alive in Germany: the question Bolshevism or not Bolshevism would long ago have been decided. Take the weight of our gigantic organization…out of the scale of national fortunes and you will see that without us Bolshevism would already tip the balance — a fact of which the best proof is the attitude adopted towards us by Bolshevism. Personally I regard it as a great honor when Mr. Trotsky calls upon German Communists to act together with the Social Democrats at any price, since National Socialism must be regarded as the one real danger for Bolshevism.” — Adolph Hitler, speech to Industry Club in Dusseldorf, 1932

      “Fourteen years of Marxism have ruined Germany. One year of Bolshevism would destroy Germany.” — Adolph Hitler, proclamation of the Reich Government, 1933

      “Goal of all policies…Domestic policy:…Extermination of Marxism root and branch….the state leadership must ensure that the men subject to military service are not, even before their entry, poisoned by pacifism, Marxism, Bolshevism, or fall victim to this poison after their service.” — Adolph Hitler, remarks to army and navy commanders, 1933

      Shall I go on?

      • Brian West April 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm | #

        None of that contradicts the original quote, which is not from Jonah Goldberg but from Joachim Fest. You can google it yourself. Hitler is talking about welcoming non-Jewish German Communists into the party and about the similarities between the two governments, which even Jewish scholars like Hannah Arendt have pointed out. There was entire faction of German nationalists, not only the Strasserites, which advocated an alliance with the Soviet Union against “the West.” Need I also remind you that the German Communists even occasionally allied with the Nazis in the Reichstag against the moderate democratic parties? Stanley Payne has mentioned this. You might also want to look up what some prominent German Communists, in the 1930s!, had to say about “Jewish bankers.”

      • Brian West April 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm | #

        If you don’t want to take their word for it, how about someone who was actually there? The social democrat Kurt Schumacher referred to the German Communists as “red-painted Nazis.”

  6. Corey Robin April 24, 2012 at 12:24 am | #

    Yes, Hitler so welcomed Communists into his movement that one of the very first laws he passed was a ban on Jews and Communists in the civil service: “Unfit are all civil servants who belong to the Communist Party or Communist auxiliary or supplementary organizations. They are, therefore, to be discharged.” (April 11, 1933). And, yes, Hitler so welcomed the Communists into his movement that of the 26,000 people who were rounded up in the early months of his rule, most of them were Communists and Social Democrats. And, yes, Hitler so welcomed Communists into his movement that when Himmler happily announced the opening of “the first concentration camp” in Germany — at Dachau — he declared the following: “It has a capacity of 5,000 people. All of the Communist functionaries and, insofar as necessary, the Reichsbanner and Marxist functionaries who threaten the security of the state will be assembled here. Leaving individual Communist functionaries in the courthouse jails is not possible for the long term without putting too much strain on the apparatus of the state. On the other hand, it is not appropriate, either, to let them go free again.” (April 6, 1933). And, yes, Hitler so welcomed Communists into his movement that when, a few years later, Himmler looked back on the opening of the camps, he said, “I shall explain to you why we must have so many and still more camps. We once had a very efficiently organized German Communist Party (KPD). This KPD was crushed in the year 1933….Because of my extensive knowledge of Bolshevism, I have always opposed the release of these people from the camps….When I speak here of opponents, I obviously mean our natural opponent, international Bolshevism, under Jewish-Masonic leadership. This Bolshevism, of course, has its supreme citadel in Russia.” (1937) And, yes, Hitler so welcomed Communists into his movement — and cooperation with them — that when, on the eve of his invasion of the Soviet Union, he wrote to Mussolini the following: “The partnership with the Soviet Union…was nevertheless often very irksome to me, for in some way or other it seemed to me to be a break with my whole origin, my concepts, and my former obligations. I am happy now to be relieved of these mental agonies.” (1941)

    Okay, history lesson is over. The record of both the rhetoric and the actions of the Nazis is overwhelming. There’s no point in continuing this discussion.

    • Brian West April 24, 2012 at 12:51 am | #

      Did you even bother reading your OWN quotes? For an academic, you’re awfully lazy. Scroll up and read this over:

      “For us, Germany will be saved on the day on which the last Marxist has either been ************converted************** or broken.”

      Emphasis mine. Nothing you’ve presented contradicts my original quote. Just admit you’re a far left hack and ideologue.

    • Brian West April 24, 2012 at 12:55 am | #

      I mean, seriously, what is so difficult to understand about the fact that he welcomed them if they converted (and weren’t Jewish) and deported them if they didn’t? You seem to struggle with this notion.

      I suppose Kurt Schumacher was just delusional and a right-wing revisionist when he claimed that the Communists were red-lacquered Nazis?

      • Corey Robin April 24, 2012 at 1:02 am | #

        You do know that the Spanish Inquisition also welcomed Jews if they converted, right? By your logic I guess the Inquisition was very open to the Jews, was willing to cooperate with them, and that the Jews were in fact quite similar to the Inquisitors — perhaps even Inquisitors in disguise. This is bad history and bad logic.

      • Brian West April 24, 2012 at 2:34 am | #

        Jews/Spanish Inquisition is a bad analogy. Once again, straight from the horse’s mouth:

        “I have learned a great deal from Marxism, as I do not hesitate to admit. I don’t mean their tiresome social doctrine or the materialist conception of history, or their absurd ‘marginal utility’ theories and so on. But I have learnt from their methods. The difference between them and myself is that I have really put into practice what these peddlers and pen-pushers have timidly begun. The whole of National Socialism is based on it. Look at the workers’ sports clubs, the industrial cells, the mass demonstrations, the propaganda leaflets written specially for the comprehension of masses; all these new methods of political struggle are essentially Marxist in origin. All that I had to do was take over these methods and adapt them to our purpose. I had only to develop logically what Social Democracy repeatedly failed in because of its attempt to realize its evolution within the framework of democracy. National Socialism is what Marxism might have been if it could have broken its absurd and artificial ties with a democratic order.”

        I highly doubt you could point to the Spanish Inquisitors saying something similar about the Jews.

        The Jew/Christian analogy might work though. Because while there are substantial differences between Judaism and Christianity, and Christianity has indeed been suspicious and sometimes outright hostile towards Jews for most of its history, surely you couldn’t deny that Christian doctrine also relies greatly on Judaism (the Old Testament) and that the former is unimaginable without the latter? The same could be said about Marxism/Nazism.

      • Brian West April 24, 2012 at 2:36 am | #

        Well, Bolshevism/Nazism would be more accurate, but that changes little.

  7. Comment April 24, 2012 at 12:58 am | #

    Corey, you’re being trolled. Ignore them – they are willfully ignorant/insincere

  8. Corey Robin April 24, 2012 at 2:39 am | #

    Wait, you’re saying the right learns from the left, that it borrows and imitates its methods and tactics, the better to fight against it? Wow, I could swear I’ve read a book recently that makes just that argument. Now what was the name of that book?

  9. Freddie April 24, 2012 at 10:32 am | #

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  10. Todd April 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm | #

    Brian West, the fascist vermin, wrote:

    “Hitler is talking about welcoming non-Jewish German Communists into the party and about the similarities between the two governments, which even Jewish scholars like Hannah Arendt have pointed out.”

    Stalin betrayed an ideal; Hitler lived up to his.

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