Skip to main content

The follies of Santorum's Hitler analogy

By Hamid Babaei
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Tue April 1, 2014
Iranian official Hamid Babaei says it is baseless and unfair to compare Iran to Hitler's Nazi Germany.
Iranian official Hamid Babaei says it is baseless and unfair to compare Iran to Hitler's Nazi Germany.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iranian official Hamid Babaei fires back at recent claims comparing Iran to Nazi Germany
  • Babaei: Iran should be able to enjoy its right to peaceful nuclear energy
  • The Hitler analogy, he says, has a long and tortured history and is off point in this case

Editor's note: Hamid Babaei is counselor and head of press office for the Permanent Mission of Iran to the United Nations. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Hamid Babaei.

(CNN) -- The recent op-ed by Rick Santorum and Joel C. Rosenberg is yet another attempt to stymie and shackle Iran and international negotiators in ongoing talks about Iran's peaceful nuclear program.

Iran should be able to enjoy its right to peaceful nuclear energy while avoiding further hostilities and instability.

Particularly illogical is their joining in the decades-old rhetoric, comparing who they see as their foe -- Iran -- to Adolf Hitler.

Their view of the diplomatic path is misguided. Their attempt to compare the Iranian government to the murderous Third Reich is ludicrous, counterproductive and unfortunate.

The Hitler analogy has a long and tortured history. For many decades, those seeking to circumvent peaceful conflict resolution have resorted to the crude Hitler analogy, comparing others to the hideous ruler.

Santorum and Rosenberg affirmed comparisons of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hitler earlier in the same article.

But their comparisons to Hitler carry some insidious inferences. They say that since Hitler's claim that he desired peace was a lie, Iran's claims to want peace cannot be believed. Therefore diplomacy in general can't happen and thus nations are locked in a policy of continuous war and aggression.

They also seek to undermine any constructive debate about policy, and instead have the public and policy makers act out of sheer panic rather than thoughtful statesmanship.

Those favoring a rush to hostility have always used the Hitler comparison to circumvent sensible deliberation and intimidate others. They want nations to support the impulsive use of force at times when they know using force is the wrong path and that diplomacy is best for national and global security.

Low expectations for Iran nuke talks
Is Iran behind new cyber war threats?
Iran nuke talks hit rough patch

This is not to say that there aren't many valuable lessons to be learned from the failure to quickly confront the menace of the Third Reich.

The world should not have stood by as Hitler invaded his neighbors. Iran, by contrast, has not invaded any of its neighbors over the past 250 years. Thus, comparing Iran to Nazi Germany is illogical and should be condemned for the sake of peace and global security.

The current efforts by the Iranian government to reach a diplomatic resolution on the nuclear file is not a tactic but, as many independent observers have noted, reflects its will to compromise and re-engage the world with mutual respect and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

President Hassan Rouhani, who won an election that had a voter turnout of 73%, campaigned on the platform of reaching understanding with the West on a number of issues, including the nuclear file. That is the basis of Iran's current policy.

Santorum and Rosenberg also recommend President Barack Obama support efforts by some in Congress to pass new sanctions. But those sanctions would violate the terms of the interim agreement, or at the very least, impose the strictest possible parameters on the American negotiators. Those parameters would either significantly harm sensitive international negotiations or derail the process altogether.

Also, the interim accord reached in Geneva is a very transparent agreement based on verification as well as strict inspections, so both sides feel assured as they seek a final status agreement.

Santorum and Rosenberg also point to a poll commissioned by Rosenberg that they claim indicates popular support for their perception of Iran. It's worth noting that neither Rosenberg nor the conservative polling firm have disclosed the full results of the poll or their methodology.

But even if this poll was to be given weight, the spread of this extremely negative perception of Iran among some in the American public -- championed by people like the authors -- is not a logical rationalization.

Additionally, if we are to look at polls, numerous ones published by major nonpartisan polling firms show strong support for diplomacy among the American people, according to some by a 2-to-1 margin. For example in a CNN/ORC International Poll, three out of four Americans support diplomacy over conflict, including 87% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans.

Rosenberg is a former Israeli official. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's complete opposition to any peaceful solution has been on full display since the potential of diplomatic conflict resolution became apparent.

Santorum's attempt to put out hawkish statement is understandable in light of his electoral ambitions.

But since global security is on the line, the decisions that guide this process should not be made based on political posturing or hysteria. And they should not give outsized consideration to the overzealous hyperbole of those who reflexively oppose diplomacy, who still consider the Iraq boondoggle a prudent war.

They should rather be made with meticulous consideration of the national interests and with an eye -- and cautious optimism -- toward a negotiated settlement that could relieve tensions and even a reversal of the current dynamic of hostility.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:34 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT