Top 5 Ways Iran is not very much like Hitler’s Germany

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

In that interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman violated Godwin’s law and compared Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s clerical leader, to Hitler. The comparison is monstrous. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Iran has not invaded Poland. In fact, Iran hasn’t invaded another country, arguably, since 1785. Iran has supplied a small contingent of Revolutionary Guards to the governments of Iraq and Syria, at their request, to fight ISIL or other rebels against those governments, but US troops in Afghanistan play the same role for Kabul. I think the Iranian help to Iraq against ISIL was necessary and heroic. The Iranian role in Syria, in contrast, has often been counter-revolutionary and shameful. We’re not in WW II territory here, however.

In contrast, in 2015 Saudi Arabia and its allies invaded Yemen and have been making war on it ever since. Saudi Arabia also intervened in Syria, backing the equally fascist Army of Islam jihadis and ordering bombings in Damascus.

2. Iran has a small Jewish community of some 9,000 persons and Iranian Jews have a representative in parliament. Although many Iranian Jews have felt that the Islamic Republic, with its Shiite fundamentalism, reduces them to second class citizens, and tens of thousands have emigrated, there have been no pogroms. The country is full of synagogues. The hoary lie that former Iranian president Ahmadinejad threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” is just, that, a lie.

In contrast, the Saudi Arabian government permits no synagogues and does not allow any organized Jewish community to live in the country.

3. Iran has a military budget of $15.9 billion a year, about the same as that menacing military powerhouse, Canada (which has less than half Iran’s population). (Israel’s military budget, for a population about 10% of that of Iran, is $17 bn.; in the same range is that of the United Arab Emirates, with 1.5 million citizens.)

4. Iran has no air force to speak of, with 130 old fighter jets, and has 1600 old tanks. It has no navy to speak of, either. Israel, with 8 million people to Iran’s 82 million, has 243 fighter jets of the latest models and 2600 sophisticated tanks. Saudi Arabia, with 20 mn citizens, is making $110 bn new arms purchases, and already has nearly as many as and much better weapons than Iran.

5. Iran is not a democracy, and carefully vets the candidates allowed to run. It is not, however, a one-party state. There are surprises in its elections and parliament has on occasion shown an independent streak.

Saudi Arabia is a dictatorship, with no parliament or national elections.


Bonus video:

Euronews: Saudi Arabian crown prince courts Israel in deepening rift with Iran

8 Responses

  1. “Saudi Arabia is a dictatorship, with no parliament or national elections.”

    Actually, its an even more backwards system than that, an absolute hereditary monarchy where the state and its population belong to the ruling family. What is de facto true in Arab republics like Syria or the Kim dynasty in North Korea, is explicit in the very name of ‘Saudi Arabia’. Just as Nazi Germany is the reflexive example invoked of a modern totalitarian state and an archetype of ‘civilized’ evil, ask any person in the world today what the worst example of backwards cruelty in the modern world is, and the chances are they will finger arch-reactionary Saudi Arabia, even though up until recent times it would have been possible to point to regimes with more blood on their hands than the ruling House of Saud (this was obviously before MbS went ‘full retard’ to paraphrase Tropic Thunder).

    Interestingly the very Establishment NGO Freedom House gives Saudi Arabia a score of 7/100 (with 100 being most free and 0 being least free) whilst mean old Iran gets a (still terrible) 17/100 in its 2018 report on world freedom. Neither country is Nazi Germany (or Soviet Russia in the case of the more revolutionary Iranian system) and the Hitler comparisons are just PR soundbites for dumb Westerners who need a culturally-familiar boogeyman to make their ears perk up.

    A better comparison for MbS would be the absolutist monarchs of Europe’s 17/18th century Age of Absolutism; one can certainly see the parallels between Louis XIV (the ‘Sun King’ who once said “L’etat c’est moi” (I am the state) and the present representative of the House of Saud, who has so brutally been pruning the alternative family branches back to make himself unchallengeable from within; funnily enough militarism and frequent wars within and without were a feature of the Sun King’s reign too. Iran on the other hand, with its semi-democratic political system in which squabbling authoritarian factions duke it out in public under the wise gaze of a Supreme Leader (Ugh) looks a lot more like Revolutionary France, particularly in its early days when it mirrored the Terror under Maximilien Robespierre’s whacky rule. Today one may better draw a closer (but loose) parallel with the chaotic conditions which prevailed in France between 1918 and 1968, ending with the overthrow of paternal autocrat Charles de Gaulle.

  2. Seems to me that “worse than Hitler” remark was him rather ostentatiously pushing a button he was told not to forget to push. Not to say it was an inconsequential button.

    Nor that his intention is trivial or the affect, combined with everything else, is destined to be inconsequential. Remember that Vision 2030 thingee of his, which ties in nicely with the 10-15 year timeframe for meltdown he gave the other day.

    Say what you will, the guy seems to have a plan.

  3. As much trouble as Shia fundamentalism and radicalism may have been from Iran, there is just no comparison to the damage the Saudis inflicted with their export of Wahhabi ideology that gave rise to a generation of Sunni supremacists and Islamist extremism globally. (Something Pakistan experienced, particularly the Shia minorities – but also mostly Sunni military establishment cultivated – well before a 9/11 hit the US. But both nations still refuse to learn from. I can understand Pakistan’s reluctance, denial and delusion, because the majority are Sunni Muslims, but the majority of the citizens of the US believing the hi-jackers were Iraqis and then Iranians? Just wow. The stupidity would be funny, had it not committed criminal mass murder of poor Iraqis already. Guess it comes down to whose pro-US and whose anti-US).

    I’d say the Saudis have been closer to a zero sum Nazi ideology than the Iranians (but now I’m rethinking maybe it’s the US that’s a global threat!). As much as MBS may like to BS about being against extremism and modernization, he still continues down the path of fascists with his sectarianism and authoritarianism.

  4. The Crown Prince just had several of his relatives tortured in order to force them to sign over a great deal of their wealth. That is a bit of disgusting despotism that would be hard to beat by anyone. The Saudi royals need to go.

  5. The United States purports to be a democracy although the candidate with the most votes in the last presidential election did not win the office.

  6. You could have mentioned the Saudi intervention in Bahrain :
    link to

    “Iran is not a democracy, and carefully vets the candidates allowed to run.”
    In real democracies they have “primaries”. Any candidate with enough big money and special interest lobbies behind them can run.

  7. See, you’re a Nazi unless you murder for things us Americans believe in like global corporate domination. Saudi Arabia is a full partner of Wall Street, while Iran is stuck by US sanctions with the other camp of state-capitalist oligarchies looking to build their own Wall Street. So at the very worst, Iran is guilty of the crime of being a very junior partner of a new corporate crime syndicate horning in on our corporate crime syndicate.

  8. ==Saved Jews 3X== And, while anti-Iran ideologues maintain that modern-day Iran is following its ancestors in seeking to destroy Israel, Iran has in fact come to the rescue of Jews three times in history. (1) Cyrus the Great, the King of Persia during the 6th century BCE, is praised in the Hebrew Bible for saving the Jews from captivity in Babylon and allowing their return to the Holy Land (where he even helped them rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem). (2) When Xerxus I, the King of Persia during the 5th century BCE, was informed by his Jewish Queen Esther that viceroy Haman—who was an Agagite, not a Persian—wanted to destroy Persia’s Jewish community he saved the Jews, had Haman killed, and permitted the Jews to take revenge on those who sought their destruction. (3) Iranian diplomats saved Jews during the Holocaust. Iranian television ran a widely watched serial on the Holocaust, Zero Degree Turn, based on true accounts of the role Iranian diplomats in Europe played in rescuing thousands of Jews during WWII. link to

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