Skip to main content

The follies of Santorum's Hitler analogy

By Hamid Babaei
April 1, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
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
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1941 GMT (0341 HKT)
Stuart Gitlow says pot is addictive and those who smoke it can experience long-term psychiatric disease.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
Gabby Giffords and Katie Ray-Jones say "Between 2001 and 2012, more women were shot to death by an intimate partner in our country than the total number of American troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined."
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
Alan Elsner says Secretary Kerry's early cease-fire draft was leaked and presented as a final document, which served the interests of hard-liners on both sides who don't want the Gaza war to stop.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)
Vijay Das says Medicare is a success story that could provide health care for everybody, not just seniors
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1818 GMT (0218 HKT)
Rick Francona says Israel seems determined to render Hamas militarily ineffective.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1743 GMT (0143 HKT)
S.E. Cupp says the entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner thinks for himself and refuses to be confined to an ideological box.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
A Christian group's anger over the trailer for "Black Jesus," an upcoming TV show, seems out of place, Jay Parini says
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 2028 GMT (0428 HKT)
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
Carol Dweck and Rachel Simmons: Girls tend to have a "fixed mindset" but they should have a "growth mindset."
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1209 GMT (2009 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT