The time has come to debunk the neoconservatives' favorite propaganda term "Islamo-fascism," and the nuttiness and folly that derives from it. As despicable as fundamentalist Islamic ideology may be, it is not Nazism any more than it is Maoism or Stalinism. Ideologically, culturally, and organizationally, Al Qaeda and the Nazi Party could hardly be more different.
Nazism teaches that everything, including religion, should be an adjunct to the modern bureaucratic-industrial State, with the Fuhrer as the embodiment of the will of the Volk. Militant Islam rejects the State (as it has existed since the Treaty of Westphalia), favoring a society governed entirely by religion, via clerical rulers, and under Sharia law as revealed in the Koran. Islamist societies are organized along clan/tribal lines under a clerical judiciary. Nazism stands for "National Socialism." Radical Islam is neither National (bound inseparably to any State) nor "Socialist." Osama bin Laden is a mult-millinaire semi-capitalist, from a rich and decidedly non-socialist family and society.
The Fuhrerprinzip ("Fuhrer Principle") was an essential doctrine of Nazism. Radical Islam has no equivalent. It operates in decentralized cells, united by religious doctrine, rather than a centralized Party/State apparatus. Even Osama bin Laden is no Fuhrer, as he deferred meekly to Mullah Omar during the Taliban rule, and has no direct hierarchical control over the Islamic militant movement.
Another core doctrine of Nazism is the supremacy of the Aryan Master Race. Osama bin Laden would be hard-pressed to mobilize a single platoon of Tall Blond Brutes, much less a new Waffen SS. He would be utterly doomed if he tried to restrict Al Qaeda membership to non-Semites (Arabs are Semites) of Nordic extraction. Militant Islam transcends race. The movement includes Arabs, Persians (Iranians), blacks (Somalis, Sudanese), Asians (Fillipinos, Indonesians), and even a few whites.
Nazism celebrated the State and the collective will of the German Volk. Think of the Nuremburg rallies. Islam arguably doesn't recognize the modern State at all. Apart from secular dictatorships Islamists want to overthrow, the nations of the Muslim world are governed according to sectarian, tribal and personal loyalties, rather than allegiance to the abstraction of the State. It is precisely the State-lessness of the Islamists that makes this a "different kind of war." When was the last time anyone saw an Al-Qaeda army marching in perfect unison under Roman-style standards bearing swastikas, to the sound of a Sieg-Heiling crowd?
Though Nazism taught that women had their "place" (Kirche, Kuche, Kinder--Church, Kitchen, Children), it still possessed a Western, even semi-Pagan acceptance of female sexuality. Have you ever seen that bizarre Nazi film of pretty, but nearly-identical, almost Borg-like young women in miniskirts exercising in perfect unison with hula hoops, showing off their lissome Aryan bodies? Not the sort of thing we'd see broadcast under the Taleban, or on Iranian National Television.
In terms of religion, the Third Reich was a mixture of Christianity and restored Germanic paganism, with the Christianity dominant (nobeliefs.com/Hitler1.htm) Radical Islam is...well...Islamic, isn't it?
The Nazi Party and State were strictly centralized, top-down, hierarchical organizations. Once those centralized institutions were destroyed, the Nazi Party ceased to be a significant force on the world stage. The "Werewolves" (an attempted Nazi insurgency) never amounted to anything in post-WWII Germany. The Islamists have no Party or State apparatus. Even if we were to find and kill Osama bin Laden, fundamentalist Islam would continue to exist, if not get stronger as a result of his "martyrdom." OBL's power is derived from his status as a semi-mythic symbol of their movement, not his direct control of State military forces or Secret Police units.
From beginning to end, Nazism was organized around uniformed paramilitary and military units. Osama has not one single such unit to his name. He has no Brown Shirts, no Wermacht, no Luftwaffe, no Kriegsmarine. He has no Gestapo or SS. His forces are all irregulars, and currently control no significant territory.
If we must attempt to turn Islamic Fundamentalists into some other enemy from America's past, there is one they have a lot more in common with, in terms of their organization, equipment, tactics, etc.: The Viet Cong. But then, we have a good reason not to go around calling Osama bin Laden the next Ho Chi Minh, don't we? "Islamo-VC," anyone?
Since calling OBL and his ilk "Islamo-Fascists" is clearly absurd, why do it? Simple: it's propaganda. The Nazis are the one, single enemy in all world history that it's indisputably OK to hate. If we tried calling them "Islamo-Stalinists," there would be those who still think the Worker's Paradise was a good idea, poorly executed, who wouldn't be swayed. Call them Islamo-Kamikazes, and the War Party would be confronted with the internment of the Japanese and the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Pick any other enemy the U.S. has waged war against, all the way back to the War of Independence ("Oh, come on, those stamp taxes weren't so bad!"), and you can find some people willing to empathize with the other side.
The Nazis though...well, all you have to do to portray Evil in a movie is dress it in a Nazi uniform (e.g. Star Wars, Indiana Jones). We'll overlook the firebombing of Dresden even as we wring hands over Hiroshima because the folks in Dresden were, well, Nazis. If we can slap a swastika on somebody, it's more than OK to kill them, and anyone who appears to support them, or who just happens to live within the blast radius of their hideout.
Furthermore, should anyone ever question the latest war do jour, the Administration can invoke the specter of Neville Chamberlain and label any critics as “appeasers.” And so, we get a spectacle of bizarre mutant Hitlers springing up all over the world whenever the US wants to start putting "steel on target."
Slobodan Milosovic, a Slavic "Hitler" whose tiny country was a client state of Russia.
Saddam Hussein, an Arab "Hitler" whose “Fourth Reich” was so poorly equipped, American forces could crush his “Wermacht” while suffering fewer casualties than in training operations of comparable scale.
Osama bin Laden, a “Hitler” leading his “Fourth Reich”...er, decentralized, non-State guerrilla insurgency...from a cave.
Hugo Chavez, whose tin-horn oil-funded socialist regime is no doubt poised to conquer the planet with its vast and technologically superior military-industrial complex.
President Ahmadinejad of Iran, certified nutjob whose virtually figurehead role is certainly a novel application of the Fuhrerprinzip.
Perhaps the only reason the U.S. never called Mohammad Aideed (that Somali warlord they were never able to catch) or the thugs in Rwanda "Hitler" is that A) the American government doesn't seem to care that much about oil-less African countries, and B) even the folks in Texas might not buy the idea of a black "Hitler."
Not one of these odd Boys From Brazil comes close to Adolf Hitler in terms of power or scale of criminality. To label every two-bit thug the U.S. government doesn’t like a new “Hitler” is an insult to the entire World War II generation. To every Londoner who kept a stiff upper lip while huddling in a bomb shelter during the Blitz…to everyone who endured shortages and rationing so that the economic output of their entire nation could be mobilized for the fight…to every man who stormed the beaches of Normandy or fought in the Battle of the Bulge, or faced Rommel in the desert, or the Russians who lost nearly 11 million people fighting the Nazis on the Eastern Front.