The World War II analogies don’t hold up today. There are no Hitlers, Pearl Harbors, Munichs, or unconditional surrenders. From Stephen Kinzer at archive.is:
Will you join my new club? It’s going to be called the Society for Abolishing World War II Analogies.
Members must pledge never to call anyone “the new Hitler.” They may not dismiss peace proposals as “another Munich” or justify attacks on other countries as efforts to prevent “another Pearl Harbor.” Most important, they must recognize that wars usually end with messy compromise, not total victory.
Americans love hearing about World War II. The stream of books, movies, comics, video games, and other flashbacks to that conflict seems endless. That’s because World War II presents the United States as we want to see it: a liberating force that uses mighty power to win total victory over evil.
Very few wars, however, conclude with triumphant parades. Most end with half-decent accords shaped over the remains of devastated nations and masses of dead, wounded, and traumatized human beings. To avoid facing that reality when we launch wars, we reach instinctively back to the example of World War II. It’s the gift that never stops giving.
Hitler is that war’s central archetype. For a time he was reviled as a uniquely evil and perverted demon. These days, it’s almost normal to hear President Vladimir Putin of Russia compared to Hitler. He’s hardly alone. A quick Internet search produces an impressive list of leaders whose enemies have called them “another Hitler” or “the new Hitler.” Among them are Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and both of the Ayatollahs who have been supreme leaders in Iran. Foreign heads of state have at various times described presidents Nixon, Johnson, Reagan, and George W. Bush as equivalent to Hitler.