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 5:22 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
updated 11:00 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
updated 4:54 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
updated 5:23 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
updated 1:39 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
updated 3:20 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
updated 4:01 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
updated 5:53 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
updated 4:23 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
updated 9:26 AM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
updated 9:39 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
updated 12:38 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
updated 1:28 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Rip Rapson says the city's 'Grand Bargain' saved pensions and a world class art collection by pulling varied stakeholders together, setting civic priorities and thinking outside the box
updated 6:10 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
Glenn Schwartz says the airing of the company's embarrassing emails might wake us up to the usefulness of talking in-person instead of electronically
updated 5:33 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
The computer glitch that disrupted air traffic over the U.K. on Friday was a nuisance, but not dangerous, says Les Abend
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT