January 28, 2007


Was 9/11 really that bad?: The attacks were a horrible act of mass murder, but history says we're overreacting (David A. Bell, January 28, 2007, LA Times)

Has the American reaction to the attacks in fact been a massive overreaction? Is the widespread belief that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time simply wrong? If we did overreact, why did we do so? Does history provide any insight?

Certainly, if we look at nothing but our enemies' objectives, it is hard to see any indication of an overreaction. The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United States.

Yet a great many Americans, particularly on the right, have failed to make this distinction. For them, the "Islamo-fascist" enemy has inherited not just Adolf Hitler's implacable hatreds but his capacity to destroy.

Mr. Bell tiptoes right up to the edge of an insight here, but flinches. Hitler, of course, had no capacity to destroy this country, nor did he ever inflict so much as one casualty on our soil. Even the Japanese only inflicted about the same amount of damage as al Qaeda and only in a territory, not in the States. Consider our "over"reaction to the original Axis and you see that history does indeed teach us quite a bit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 28, 2007 3:23 PM

Yes. We should designate parts of the country as "free fire zones", places where political mass murder is okay as long as you keep the numbers into the low thousands. For starts, I nominate Hollywood and Berkeley Calif., Madison, Wisc., Cambridge, Mass. and Aspen, Colo. I'm sure, though, Mr. Bell has a quite different list, heavy on Texas locations.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 28, 2007 5:00 PM

Hitler "had no capacity to destroy this country" in precisely the way this country had no capacity to destroy Hitler's country.

And yet, somehow, we proved our ability to destroy Hitler's country, or at least to get it to surrender.

Orrin, your view of history is so fantasic.

Meanwhile, your beloved Shiites, royal road to democracy in the Middle East, have formed "Shiite cults, including one that believes it can hasten the dawn of a new age by committing sins"--including, this article speculates, assassinating their own leadership.


Posted by: Rick Perlstein at January 28, 2007 5:05 PM

Geez, Rick, I realize it's a reflex with you lot these days, but a comparison of America to the Third Reich is patently absurd. Hitler couldn't beat the USSR either and we did it without firing a shot.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2007 5:29 PM

BTW: Ever seen the sales figures for The Left Behind series? Iran won't be a healthy republic until they are as millenarian as your republic is.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2007 5:32 PM

Hitler could have won WW2 EASILY, without doubt, if he had the same support that Kerry, Gore, Sheehan, Pelosi, the MSM et al provide.

With that said I truly believe that at least Kerry, Gore and perhaps even Hillary are to the right of all EUnuchstanian leaders.

I can't stand, nor do I trust, any of the above but I believe our two problems are 1. Fifth collumn Americans, 2. Green-meme EUnuchstanians and 3. our wealth and comfort which makes most of us not worried about the future. (Amongst our problems are...)

Posted by: Bonzo_the_Monkey at January 28, 2007 6:36 PM

Rick Perlstein:

I've argued with OJ about this before, but I'd still like to know by what logic you think us being able to destroy Hitler is an indication that he was able to destroy us.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 28, 2007 6:36 PM

Rick Perlstein:

I've argued with OJ about this before, but I'd still like to know by what logic you think us being able to destroy Hitler is an indication that he was able to destroy us.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 28, 2007 6:38 PM

Favoring the Sheiites is just good tactics in World War IV. As the wackiest of the Wackistanis, they are the easiest to crush. We remain committed to finishing our unfinished business with the spiritual jailhouse. Israel does this for us.

Hitler's long range plans vis-a-vis the United States involved partition and dismemberment, in collaboration with those long-term friends of Germany and long-term enemiues of the American folk, the Mexicans.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 28, 2007 6:56 PM


By extension, of course, Rick must believe Grenada was capable of destroying America.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2007 6:58 PM

We did destroy Hitler's country and could have kept on destroying more and more of it should it have been necessary ... ditto Japan and the USSR. oj makes provocative statements that even if heartfelt, I'm pretty sure are mostly to stir the pot.

We can all thank God Bush won't be influenced by Jane Fonda and all the rest of the ag├ęd hippies re-enacting their finest hours.

Posted by: erp at January 28, 2007 7:01 PM

The key to their wackiness is how closely it resembles our own. That makes them the most likely long term victors in the Middle East, though no match for us.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2007 7:55 PM

I'll help Rick here. Two questions are all it takes.

Were the Germans able to cross the Channel?

Which is wider, the Channel or the Atlantic?

Now, you know as much as OJ.

Posted by: Bob at January 28, 2007 8:45 PM

Heck, nevermind the ocean, they couldn't take half of France, any of Spain or most of the USSR.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2007 9:06 PM

Right. Germans being incapable of forging, like, alliances.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at January 28, 2007 9:26 PM

With who?

Try not to be inane.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2007 9:28 PM

Germans being incapable of forging, like, alliances.

You mean like the ones they had with Japan and its puppets, with Italy, Rumania, Hungary, Finland, Vichy France and Croatia? And the ones they'd probably gotten with Sweden, Spain and Turkey if they'd taken Stalingrad? Or for that matter, the one with the Man of Steel himself before the Operation Barbarossa double-cross

If you are going to make accusations of ahistorical fantasies, at least come up with something better than a substitution your own.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 28, 2007 9:38 PM


Who wouldn't after hearing that Allan Sherman song?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 28, 2007 11:25 PM

Rick Perlstein:

Nice try, but you weren't talking about alliances. I'm just disputing your logic, not your conclusion. Personally, I'm glad we went over to Europe and smashed the Nazis.

Let's try to keep on the same wavelength: You seem to be saying that America being able to destroy Germany somehow leads to the conclusion that Germany could have destroyed America. Please give me any good reason why that train of thought isn't bonkers.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 28, 2007 11:36 PM

Well, we have a winner.

I don't think Perlstein has ever posted anything sillier here before -- and that's saying a lot.

Kudos to Matt for pointing out the fallacy.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 29, 2007 12:02 AM


His point was that could form alliances. Their spectacular failure despite said and the impossibility of their being a threat to us no matter who they allied with is more germane.

Posted by: oj at January 29, 2007 12:17 AM

What if Hitler had not attacked Russia?

Posted by: Mike Beversluis at January 29, 2007 12:23 AM

Had Hitler stayed allied with Russia, FDR wouldn't have defied congress and gotten us involved. We got involved to save Uncle Joe's chestnuts, not to save western civilization.

There probably wouldn't have been a Pearl Harbor attack and the face of world would be far different than it is today.

The Soviets were a far bigger threat than the Third Reich simply because Hitler was despised throughout the world. He had no allies. The Soviets on the other hand had swooning acolytes as far as the eye could see. The reds, of which there were many and in high places, in the U.S. would have led the way for worldwide Soviet communism, so like Matt I'm glad we got into the fray although for different reasons.

The lunacy of the left is becoming more tedious than amusing and after hearing the same old, same old for decades, I plead with Rick, learn a new tune already.

Posted by: erp at January 29, 2007 8:30 AM

He would not have been Hitler.

Posted by: oj at January 29, 2007 8:35 AM

Isn't obvious that Hitler allied with Mexico. A mere 60 years later, per Tom Tancredo, the fruits of this alliance are apparent.

Posted by: Bob at January 29, 2007 11:13 AM

they couldn't take half of France,

They did take all of France, completely occupying all of metropolitan France after the Torch landings in North Africa. They easily held it until the D-Day invasion.

any of Spain

Franco was pro-Axis, but unable to particiapte since Spain was still recovering from the Civil War. Nobody, not even Hitler, invades his friends.

or most of the USSR.

They came very close to doing exactly that. Barbarossa was a "near run thing". To claim that they couldn't because they didn't is illogical.

Now as for the threat posed by Germany in 1945, you are quite right. But what about a Germany in 1955 armed with von Braun's intercontinental rockets carrying Heisenberg's bombs?

Without those same German rocket scientists, America would have had no matching rocket or space program. Without a fear of the German threat, there would have been no Manhattan Project and Einstein's letter to the President would have fallen on deaf ears.

Not seeing Germany as a threat in the 1940s would have meant an incinerated America in the 1950s.

Posted by: dna at January 29, 2007 12:27 PM

Rick: Read John C. Ellis' book, Brute Force. No way EVER does Germany have a chance against us.

Posted by: Bartman at January 29, 2007 3:47 PM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference MISREMEMBER THE MAINE::

» Monday Cocktail Hour Links from Maggie's Farm
China warns against "wine and women" at Olympics.A case against women's suffrage, at Althouse. Emotional, impulsive, and elections are a popularity contest, like high school. Is that true?Dumbest thing: he put the duck in the fridge without cle [Read More]