The Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part Eight
American Modified and Accepted Hitlerism
by B.J. Sabri

March 2, 2004

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"All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those toward whom it is directed will understand it... Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise."       

-- Adolf Hitler, [1]

“The Conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society…It is the intelligent minorities which need to make use of propaganda continuously and systematically. In the active proselytizing of minorities in whom selfish interests and public interests coincides lie in the progress and development of America”

-- Edward Bernays, US Government Propaganda Commission during WWI [2]

We have tentatively established that mentality is a precursor to ideology, which in turn acts as a unified system of thought, action, and alibi. In view of that, ideology and stringent capitalistic control is the locomotive that has been guiding U.S. power from its early continental colonialistic expansions, through global imperialistic domination, to its current hyper-imperialistic consolidation of empire.

Although consolidation is not a condition for durability or continuity, U.S. expansions remain, so far, unchallenged, multiform, and go by different names. In the past, they were protectorates, commonwealth (still active: Puerto Rico), and colonies. At present they could be: (1) permanent shadow occupation: Germany, Japan, and Panama (2) ongoing occupation: Bosnia and Kosovo, (3) virtual occupation: Afghanistan, (4) hard occupation: Iraq, (5) soft occupation: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman, (6) political occupation: Spain, Britain, (7) econo-political occupations: Russia, Poland, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan, (8) and occupation through trade dependency: China. Other forms of U.S. imperialistic expansion include manipulation and control of economic development of nations, installation of military bases in every corner of the world, direct military interventions, managed military coups, punitive actions, and willful wars.   

While these expansions vary in nature, their working mechanism is similar and quite simple. The ideology that guided them, even in relatively peaceful times, hinges on a constant imperialist mentality marked by racist sentiments of national grandeur and supported mostly by coercion, military means, and threats of mass violence. Examples of these ideological sentiments are the evocative hymn of the marines: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli…”, and the ideological inclusion of God and religion in the minute details of imperialism and the innate “goodness” of the American purpose.

These sentiments, together with relentless aggressive expansionist militarism and prospects of seizing foreign resources and strategic positioning in relation to other imperialist powers, created peculiar ruses for interventions that the U.S. conveniently rationalized and condensed into an immutable national policy. The predilection for interference not only did not change through time, it became explicit, arrogant, and criminally violent. In an interview (mid-1990’s) with Jim Lehrer of Public Television, Christopher Warren, former state secretary, bombastically informed the audience that because America is the sole remaining superpower, everything that happens in the world is necessarily the business of the United States.

Contrary to common opinion and in exclusive psychological terms, the tendency for violent intervention in the affairs of the world is a symptom of internal failure in the mechanism of imperialistic control. Explanation: Since American ruling elites well know that economic measures alone cannot defeat an adversary, their reliance on military means to impose a forceful solution is an indication that imperialism cannot prevail as far as reason is concerned. This is failure. It demonstrates that if reason and negotiation can prevail, force will silence them. The proclivity to silence reason in favor of violence and show of force is terrorization. Ultimately, terrorization is a two-edge sword. On one side, it may achieve its temporary objectives; on the other, it creates a vehement opposition including counter-violence aiming at annulling those same objectives and fighting those who want to achieve them. 

Further, because the aura and philosophy of intervention, construed as an abstract ideology of national grandeur, have always been an alibi for either projected or immediate material imperialistic gain, this brings us to question the entire concept of nationalistic grandeur in the context of military interventions. What is the value of this grandeur if war and violence are the means to achieve it, and why the constant American references to slogans such as, “the greatest nation on earth”, “the strongest country in history”, or “the only remaining superpower”, etc.?” Can the U.S. exist without such ideologically exaggerated notions of self-importance? Of course it can; but even if it cannot, why must those notions be fascist and interventionist? If the greatness of a nation means reaching sublime levels of development and respect for human rights and dignity, then I do not see how greatness can apply to aggressive powers in a perpetual search for nations to invade and exploit.

Our purpose, then, is to establish reliable analytical patterns, where we can assertively affirm that American imperialist and hyper-imperialist military interventionism abroad rely on a violent ideological matrix of grandeur similar to that of Hitlerism (I partly explained why I chose Hitlerism to represent violence in part seven). From an attentive comparison between the tenets and deeds of the American and Hitlerian matrices, it is not difficult to observe a few astounding similarities. These include racism, national superiority complex, organized international violence, territorial expansionism, as well as mythological aggrandizement of one’s own civilization, justificatory fascist mentality, and vocabulary of debasement toward non-white and non-European nations. 

Curiously, the most striking element of resemblance between the theory and praxis of Hitlerism and the ideology of the American Empire is the ease with which both can inflict mass killing on nations and groups. This ease may have interior motive: it is an expression of direct or indirect racism where the life of those attacked means nothing to the attackers.

The idea of racism is more than possible. In the American example, and during the incessant building of empire, racist tenets targeting Native Nations, underpinned American expansion and transformed the colonies into a modern state. At the same time, however, it transformed the essence of what I call, “retroactive and timeless racist Hitlerism” into an easy absorbable everyday American culture, and into a perpetual mechanism for an over-inflated nationalistic glorification. (After the American orgy of mass killing called the Gulf War (1991), the U.S. celebrated the blood fiesta in a victory parade in New York City, as if it won against an inter-galactic empire!)

Under these interactions, while the true motive of American military enterprises is implementing imperialism, their ideological impetus originates from miscellaneous colorful pretenses such as, “greatness by divine grace” and “singular virtues” of the economic and political systems. At this point, brace yourself for a ride into the hallucinating world of American imperialism: we ended up with a bizarre theological covenant between God and empire. In it, a busy, over stretched, and an exhausted God has to drop everything that he is doing and runs to bless America every time a U.S. president routinely invokes him to do so, and every time he sees cheering crowds wave the flags. We have no idea if the covenant includes clauses whereby God must extend his blessing to the annexation of Texas, the Vietnam War, the invasion of the Dominican Republic, and the Kissinger arranged coup in Chile! 

The point of all this, is that from observing the dynamics and history of conquests, we know that the ideology of self-entitlement, as motivated by multiple confluent factors such as gain and sense of superiority, is the active ingredient of imperialism. Decidedly, without self-entitlement imperialism cannot persist to exist. Under these circumstances, the war and occupation of Iraq has irrevocably removed all remaining veneers from an oppressive racist empire that made wars of conquest its daily bread and butter. In one word, the U.S. can now attack any non-nuclear country (although this is only partially true, as the U.S. could attack nuclear Pakistan or India but not nuclear Russia or China – Pakistan and India cannot retaliate, Russia and China can) by simply inventing something about it. Consequently, as hyper-imperialism reinforced the military ingredients (gain from war, and “glory”) that make imperialism tick, it elevated the notion of self-entitlement to an exclusive privilege of the American hyper-empire.

Self-entitlement, especially within the context of imperialism, is a product of specific ideology and historical processes of power that finds its justificatory acceptance at most levels of society. Conversely, an ideology that cannot penetrate the social strata of a nation will not have the necessary means to survive. As a result, to establish a relation between a state’s ideology and society in relation to imperialistic conquests, we assert that a strongly manipulated mentality make the American people willful participants in the promotion of the U.S. interventionist conduct.

Regardless of how this mentality is manipulated, spread or diverse, its distribution among the population reveals indoctrination patterns where acceptance, defense, or rejection of foreign policy matters never deviates from pertinently established guidelines. Even the genuine opposition to the system, which at times is cogent and implacable, is normally composed, intellectual, theoretical, and rhetorical, and has no practical consequences on hardened imperialistic sentiments or on the mechanism of political change. In essence, the American system is now a static mechanism of self-repeating cycles of cultural-political modalities where times and faces keep changing, but nothing else in the basic system of government and ideology of power.

To confirm the manifestation of manipulated mentality as it applies to U.S. wars, limited massive American antiwar demonstrations did not stop the march to war against Iraq, nor was the general population interested in the matter. This is mainly because the whole system appeared immovable in its convictions and on how to proceed in an ocean of propagandistic miasma. Thus, the decisions for going to war remained the privilege of a small minority with colluded interests. Further, as the war is now entering in a phase of a stalemated conquest, the steam of dissension has virtually vanished, and no one is seriously pushing to end the military occupation of Iraq, even after all machinations and lies for the invasion floated up to the surface. Therefore, and based on a low count of American fatalities and sanitized reporting on war and Iraqi fatalities, it appears that, from an American perspective, the American people have accepted the imperialistic occupation of Iraq as a natural conclusion to a fastidious story. 

A mentality of grandeur works in many ways. On an intellectual level, for example, Stephen E. Ambrose, an American historian, exemplifies this when he reviews Geoffrey Perret’s A Country Made By War. Says Ambrose in a flattering encomium: “[A] classic work, easily the best single volume on the American military experience yet.” Four things emerge from reading the book and from the fourteen words of Ambrose: (1) Perret insinuated that only wars made America; and by that, he implied that since war made it, the immense contribution that generations of Americans gave to the making is immaterial. (2) As he emphatically affirmed that America is a “country made by war”, he indirectly confirmed that America is a product of extreme violence and destruction, which is what war is. (3) Ambrose, on the other hand, proudly concluded that America’s wars against the world are only a military experience in the curve of American development. (4) Moreover, the use of the adverb “yet” to denote the placement of Perret’s book in relation to future books on the subject, confirms that the American war “experience” could still expand into the future. In fact, as per predictable prophesy, the U.S. punctually reprised its wars more violently than ever, since Perret published his work in 1990. 

To give a practical example on how Hitlerian mentality works on a popular level, it is instructive to recall the invasion of Panama. George H. Bush invaded Panama, killed over 4000 Panamanians [3], and abducted its president (whom the U.S. itself installed) without any one raising objections or questions. The American people, at large, were either indifferent or just accepted Bush’s claim that Noriega was involved in drugs and money laundering. As for the true motives, they all went unnoticed. These included the future defense of the Panama Canal after expiration of treaty, the abolishment of the Panamanian Defense Forces (the U.S. would then remain the guardian), the testing of new weapons including the stealth bomber, and giving a show of force for leftist movements in Latin America and to a moribund USSR. The point here is that the killing of all those innocent Panamanians did not disturb the sleep and conscience of the majority of U.S. citizens. 

A generalized mentality of fascism can express itself on other levels. In the world of journalism, for example, it takes the shape of a scheming language aimed at altering perceptions. Take The Guardian (a British daily) for example, when it reports on the Iraqi resistance to the imperialist Anglo-American occupation. The Guardian tabulates the “reports” on the resistance under the small headline: “Violence and Unrest.” To what and whose violence is the Guardian alluding? And why did it call the Iraqi acts of resistance unrest? This is as if to say that the situation in Iraq is not a result of war and occupation but because of “civil unrest” of a population defying their local authority.

Another example is The New York Times, the sophisticated temple of U.S. Zionism. The NYT places its rubric on the mass slaughter of Iraqis consequent to the invasion under a minuscule headline, called “Killed in Iraq”, as if that killing is accidental and happened during an excursion, and not in an ongoing war between invaders and invaded. [4] Let us see some numbers, The New York Times puts the maximum number of Iraqi civilian fatalities at 9,792 and military fatalities at 6,370 thus the total is 16,162, while it puts combat fatalities by invaders and mercenaries at 568.

Before everything, note that the U.S. killed more civilians than military personnel. Second, even if we take at face value the number of Iraqi fatalities, we have to ask one big question: why did the U.S. kill 16,162 Iraqis? Did this mass killing happen because (1) Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Powell claimed Iraq possessed WMD that after 11 months of occupation could not be found; (2) because the were “terrorists responsible for 9/11” (3) the U.S. cannot achieve conquest without killing; or (4) are there other motives? Based on the history of the American rationale and true purpose for invading Iraq, while hypothesis number three is a sure winner, hypothesis number four is another winner but requires elaboration that we shall discuss later in the series.

Based on this discussion, we can conclude that the main tie that binds the mentality of American fascism to a popular acquiescence to its manifestation is the indifference to death caused by countless U.S. aggressions abroad. This acquiescence is the ideological humus that fascism needs to prosper and spread. 

If the American people reject the characterization of Hitlerism or fascism applied to the actions of the U.S. government around the world, then where is their reaction to the death of those Iraqis, which is an expression of a Hitlerian mentality? Did the U.S. not raise hell when an alleged al-Qaida terrorist attack killed 3000 innocent people in New York City? So, why can we not raise hell for the killing of 16,162 innocent Iraqis because Zionists, imperialists, militarists, Halliburton-ists, Bechtel-ists, and fanatic religious crusaders decided that Iraqis must die on the altar of “civilized” American Hitlerism and its manufactured alibis?

Moreover, and except for a respectable minority, why is the majority silent? Further, based on what criteria does the U.S. consider its crimes a product of innocent chromosomal purity, while considering the crimes of others a product of inborn wickedness? Of course this is an ideological manipulation of crime; but the pattern of beatitude and innocence that the U.S. attaches to its crimes has been going on before and after the rise of the American state, and the osmosis between state and society to implement violent philosophy against other nations, has never known any interruption or revision up until present.    

Robert Jay Lifton and Eric Marcusen clarify my concept on the idea of societal participation in mass killing when they talk about the Nazi Holocaust. [5] Their analysis, however, is perfectly applicable to Korea, Vietnam, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq regardless of the size of killing and motive. On a practical ground I find no difference between mass killing and genocide – these are techno-ideological subtleties, and in using one but not the other to describe the killing of targeted people, the user tries to either minimize or maximize the extent or scope of killing.

Say the authors:

“Nazi genocide took on the quality of a silent, collective crusade, involving not just the bureaucracy of killing but German society as whole. As Hitler anticipated, many within the German society “were eagerly prepared to take the initiative” in carrying the program out, many more would take part “as long as their participation could be made part of an unthinking routine or job.”

Can we apply the jest of what Lifton and Marcusen are saying to the Iraqi example? The answer is a categorical yes.  Indeed, with the exception of the antiwar movements, many segments of the American people rejecting Bush’s war mania, a multitude of wise politicians within the system, and numerous ardent antiwar public personalities, the majority was either part of the hysteria to invade Iraq or showed indifference to the project, which we can construe as consent. That majority did not care to ask questions on motives and the implication of using American war technology on defenseless people. A question: If something of this nature is applicable on Germany vs. Jews, why can it not be applicable on America vs. Iraqis?” Why do two different criminal intents with similar outcomes, despite differences, receive a different and selective treatment?

Answer: national supremacist beliefs normally lead to ideological and privileged discriminations on who inflicts violence and on who receives it, which leads to an expedient notion of self-righteous entitlement in relation to the application of violence, which leads to the creation of alibis of innocence and redemption, which in the end lead to the consecration of the sense of self-superiority and unaccountability. In other words, it is a self-nurtured and perpetual cycle where imperialist violence becomes deep-rooted and accepted as a natural course of a “virtuous democracy”, and as a symbol of national power whereby U.S. ruling classes and large segments of the population see themselves above the super-normal and beyond the extra-ordinary.    

An example of accepted organized military violence in social life is noticeable when newspapers, magazines, and television programs publish or air information about financial markets, sex, toys, cosmetics, celebrities, automobiles, and wars, in a way that war appears as an ordinary subject, since it is appearing among other ordinary subjects. Accordingly, is it possible then to hypothesize that we are dealing with a seriously deranged system where deep-rooted Hitlerian attitudes of perceived paramount perfection and national superiority are at work here, and where news of death and destruction of small nations means nothing to the majority?

The answer is a robust yes, but with a qualification. Hitlerian attitudes are the product of historical conjectures and cultures of a state, its power, and the population that supplies its continuity regardless of prevailing subjective realities. Consider this, while in a classical fascist state a strict minority exercises tight control over foreign policy issues, in the American super-state, similar control exists as when just two elected persons, the president and the vice-president, and their appointed officials set and execute foreign policy matters and military interventions as per special and personal interests without debate or control.

Having provided, at this point, potential ideological connections between mentality rendered predisposed to accept fascism as expressed in military interventions, and between the ability of the state to satisfy the material expectations placed on that same mentality, defining “American Modified and Accepted Hitlerism” therefore would only be a matter of conceptual transition. I shall base my understanding of “AMAH” on how the U.S. is projecting it externally through official rhetoric, manifestations of structured mentality, military power, culture of war, culture of mass killing as an expression of power, and imperialistic rationalizations, but leaving out from the discussion the nature and functions of domestic institutions and social issues. These are distinct subjects. Consequently, what is, “American Modified and Accepted Hitlerism” or “AMAH?

I coined “AMAH” to denote a constructed American ideological platform whereby: 

“Essential traits of Hitlerism are coherently present in a self-serving American paradigm that is  the core of U.S. strategic thinking, military posture, and projection of power, whereby the policy of military interventions, aggressions, invasions, conquest, mass killing, mass destruction, and genocide as motivated by ideology and imperialism, is accepted as long as the U.S. is the doer, and whereby propaganda, deception, and mass control act as cohesive force to induce popular acceptance for that policy.”

In part nine, we shall discuss foreign policy as a privilege of the executive branch, explain each term of “AMAH”, and then proceed to explore how the passage from mentality to ideology and from ideology to practice manifests itself, thus enshrining “AMAH” as an ordinary national attitude.

Incidentally, how did we reach such a provocative conclusion that would make some cringe for the audacity to parallel “democratic” America with Hitlerism? In addition, because the imperialistic racism and atrocities of the former British and French Empires could easily emulate and exceed that of Hitler’s Germany, then why can we not use their examples instead of the ubiquitous and trite Hitlerism? Take Winston Churchill – an admirer of Hitler -- for example. [6] If we compare Churchill’s colonialist ideology with that of the supremacist Hitler, we can hardly see any substantial difference between the two. Both were bloody, racist, fascist, and imperialist, so why do we not use Churchill as a yardstick of Hitlerism?   

Next, Part 9: American Modified and Accepted Hitlerism: General Dynamics

B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American anti-war activist. He can be reached at: bjsabr@yahoo.com.

Other Articles by B. J. Sabri

* The Splendid Failure of Occupation, Pt 7: Is Hitlerism a Mentality?
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Pt 6: Deliberation, Or Isaac Newton and the Naughty Apple
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 5 : America and Depleted Uranium

* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 4: Annan and the Vocabulary of Deception
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 3: Annan, the UN, and Other Stories
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 2: Can We Explain the War on Iraq by Reading Israel?
* The Splendid Failure of Occupation: Part 1
* Beyond Empty Triumphalism
* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part One

* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part Two
* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part Three

* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part Four
* Reporting from the Colonialist Side of the Brain
* Thomas Friedman: The Insidious Prophet of Petty Fascism
* Nomen Nudum, Or, Hyper-Imperialists On a Rampage
* Which Prototype is Bush Following: Nero, Holagu, Malthus, Hitler, or Sharon?
* From Guernica to Baghdad Via Dresden and Hiroshima
* Barbaric Era, Year 2003
* When Hercules is Intoxicated, Furious, and Unchained
* War on Iraq and the Pregnant Chads Factor

* Nuclear Blues and the Iraqi Question


[1] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 197, 14th Edition. Italics added for emphasis.

[2] Quoted in Noam Chomsky’s, Turning the Tide (South End Press, 1985), p. 235. Italics added for emphasis.

[3] “The Panama Deception”, a documentary film, written and directed by Barbara Trent.

[4] http://nytimes.com/2004/01/03/international/middleeast/03BBOX.html

[5] Robert Jay Lifton and Eric Markusen, The Genocidal Mentality, p. 168

[6] http://www.fff.org/comment/com0310j.asp








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