Prior to their September national elections, German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin caused quite a stir in international political circles. She was widely reported to have said that George W. Bush, like Hitler, was using the threat of war to distract public attention from domestic U.S. problems.
After diplomatic tongues began to wag, of course, Daeubler-Gmelin denied the accusation. But her real mistake was in comparing Bush to Hitler, when she should have lumped him with Saddam Hussein instead.
How are Bush and Hussein similar? Let us count the ways.
1. They both lust after oil. In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran seeking its oil fields, then a decade later did the same thing to Kuwait. Now the United States, using the pretext of weapons of mass destruction, is talking about conquering and occupying Iraq. The real reason, of course, is to get our hands on all their oil. With it safely in our tanks, we'd be able to tell the Saudi sheiks what we really think of them, while at the same time keeping down the price of gasoline to fill our super-sized vehicles. What a wonderful world that would be.
2. To get more oil, they are willing to kill thousands. The Iraqi invasion of Iran, with U.S. backing, and the eight-year struggle that followed, cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. The takeover of Kuwait and the Persian Gulf war only added to that gruesome sum.
Since 1991, U.N. sanctions against Iraq have allegedly resulted in the death of almost 1 million innocent people, including many infants and children. Now the Bush plan to conquer the country could pile a lot more dead bodies on top of that grisly total.
If the Iraqis hunker down in Baghdad and dare us to come get them, what are we going to do? We could destroy the city and its civilian population in the name of fighting terrorism, and that might be the price the Iraqis have to pay for George W. to get his way.
Maybe it is time to get out of our SUVs and smell the rosewater of truth: It isn't worth killing lots of innocent Iraqis so we can save a few cents per gallon.
3. Both are surrounded by cronies who believe might makes right. Hussien's inner circle of thugs has had to silently look the other way as he led his country to ruin. In Washington, the administration is made up of men who fantasize they have big pistols in their pockets and want to shoot them off first and give diplomacy a try later.
4. Dealing with terrified politicians and a compliant press is not a problem. In Iraq, Hussein recently won all 11.4 million votes cast in his re-election effort. His critics are either non-existent or dead.
In this country, while the general public is starting to show some disdain for the President's bloodlust, most Democratic party leaders wet their pants over the possibility of voicing opposition to an invasion of Iraq. Presumably, like their predecessors with the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, they don't want to be labeled as soft on terrorism.
At the same time, the national media played right into the White House's hands. Any coverage of the sinking stock market or corporate scandals, rising poverty and a return to huge deficit spending went in the trash can for over two months as the press covered only one issue: the pending war with Iraq. That was just what the spin doctors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ordered to try and insure the next Congress is in the hands of tax-cutting Republicans.
5. Neither has a clue of the long-term consequences of their actions. After his ill-fated adventure with Iran, Hussein could be excused for thinking the U.S. would look the other way when he tried to annex Kuwait. But he didn't reckon on George Bush and his big oil buddies concluding the loss of those wells wasn't a good idea.
George Jr. doesn't have a clue about what will happen if we conquer Iraq. While he and his advisors dream it could eventually lead to transforming the Middle East into some kind of democratic region, the much more likely outcome is an eternal U.S. quagmire.
Iraq potentially would split into three sections, the Kurds in the north battling with Turkey over statehood, the Shiites in the south being wooed by Iran and the Sunnis in the middle just trying to survive. To prevent that nightmare from happening, U.S. troops would have to try and hold the country together, maybe forever.
6. The other has weapons of mass destruction, and he is threatening us. For months Bush has talked about why Saddam Hussein must be removed. Special focus was put on Iraq's nuclear program, and the possibility a mushroom cloud could soon be seen anywhere in the world if we didn't take action soon.
How the Iraqis would deliver such a blow, even if they had the bomb, has not been explained. Meanwhile, with their "Axis of Evil" triplet North Korea, which has both the means and the methods to drop the big one eventually, America will negotiate. Their oil reserves apparently aren't worth fighting over.
7. Both lead countries in need of a regime change. It would benefit the world greatly if the military dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and the political dictatorship of George W. Bush came to an end. The first in order to free his country from iron-fisted rule, the other to allow his countrymen to be free of the "It's the War, Stupid" election mentality.
The U.S. has enough enemies around the world as it is, and this media-manipulation escapade has only increased that number. As a result, we're more likely to be attacked by terrorists, not less.
Saddam Hussein someday may be a real danger to the people of the United States. It is clear that George Bush already is.