In 1996 Daniel Jonah Goldhagen published Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. His thesis is that the mass murder of Jews was not done on the quiet by a few Nazi fanatics. Instead, Goldhagen writes, by their complicity ordinary Germans were willing participants in the slaughter.
In other words, the German people as a people were guilty as well, because they accepted and permitted the slaughter of an ethnic group.
Goldhagen’s thesis has had rough sledding. German newspapers in the Third Reich did not report on the progress of the Holocaust. Few Germans had the means or were willing to take the risks of listening to British broadcasts, which had no reporters on the German scene to investigate extermination rumors. By the time the Holocaust was underway, Hitler and the Gestapo had an iron grip on Germans and the German military. The potent German war machine had fallen victim to Nazi hubris and bitten off more of Russia than it could chew. Opposition to Hitler rose within the military. Generals hatched plots to assassinate Hitler, but every attempt failed.
If generals commanding armies could not overthrow Hitler, it is unclear what ordinary Germans could have done. They could not vote Hitler out, as the Enabling Act had made him a dictator. The Gestapo had put a stop to civil liberties, and there was no free press. And, of course, there was no Internet reporting hard facts that the toady German media covered up.
The situation in America today is quite different from wartime Germany. There is still a free press even though it is a toady corporate press without heart or courage. There is an opposition party even thought it is a toady opposition. Bush is not a dictator even though a toady Congress has permitted Bush to accumulate power in the executive branch at the expense of both civil liberties and the separation of powers established by the Constitution. Americans have an abundance of hard facts available to them from a world press via the Internet. Americans have the weapons inspectors’ reports, expert testimony, and now top secret British government documents leaked to the Sunday Times (London). The documents reveal that the British government regarded Bush’s premeditated invasion of Iraq as illegal and had concerns that Prime Minister Blair and cabinet ministers could be brought up on war crime charges for participating in naked aggression. The documents reveal that Bush’s decision to invade Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the reasons he gave the US Congress and the American people and that the “intelligence” he cited to justify his invasion was concocted and fabricated.
If Germans were complicit, as Goldhagen claims, how can Americans avoid the charge of complicity in Bush’s crimes against Iraq when Americans are in possession of such damning facts and have the power of impeachment? Why do Americans tolerate a liar and a war criminal as their president?
Why has Congress voted still more money for an illegal war launched in deception?
Why does the US military permit its human and physical resources to be squandered in a pointless war that has no strategy for victory and no timetable for withdrawal?
How can America be so dominated by a lame-duck president that it loses all sense of itself, its honor, and its purpose?
Americans are complicit in the deaths and maiming of thousands of American soldiers for no valid purpose. Americans are complicit in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi women and children as “collateral damage.” No one knows how high the number is because the Bush administration does not regard Iraqi lives as worth counting.
Bush’s war of deception has devastated Iraq. Cities and towns are in ruins. Infrastructure is destroyed. Half the population is unemployed. Pollution and disease are rampant.
By continuing to defend Bush’s lies, right-wing talk radio, Fox “News”, the Weekly Standard, National Review, the Wall St Journal editorial page, the NY Post, the NY Sun and the rest of the neocon establishment are Bush’s willing executioners. The neocon media differs not at all from the Nazi propaganda machine. The neocon media fosters the same hatred and blood lust: kill the Iraqis, invade Syria, bomb the Iranians, devise “useable nukes” to subdue the Muslims, kill the American traitors who criticize our fuhrer, bend the world to our exceptional will.
How much more shame and complicity will Americans allow Bush and his neocon brownshirts to shovel onto their shoulders before Americans say “enough!” and remove from office the war criminal who has sullied America’s good name?
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS has held a number of academic appointments and has contributed to numerous scholarly publications. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. His graduate economics education was at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org