Monday, November 07, 2005

Intent and opportunity

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, of Hitler's Willing Executioners fame, argues (via GayandRight) that the Iranian rhetoric is much more dangerous than most people recognize:
For genocide to occur, two components must be present, intent and opportunity, with intent often long preceding the acquisition of the means and circumstances necessary to implement it. In South-West Africa, the intent could not have been clearer, and the opportunity was also present, given the overwhelming German military superiority. The Germans systematically slaughtered three-quarters of the Herero people. Hitler had already articulated his wish to "exterminate" the Jews in 1920, but not until the German conquest of Europe did the opportunity exist for him to carry out his wishes, which he promptly did, murdering 6 million.
How has the world reacted to Mr. Ahmadinejad, von Trotta and Hitler's rhetorical heir? With the exception of the Palestinian Authority's spokesman, the leaders of Arab and other Islamic countries have been silent. Their countries' newspapers, with tacit approval, have printed on their front pages Mr. Ahmadinejad's speech without commentary. In the democratic world, political leaders and editorialists alike have roundly condemned Mr. Ahmadinejad's words. Yet the critical questions remain unanswered: How seriously should we take Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements? More specifically, what is the relationship of Mr. Ahmadinejad's words to any real intent? And will intent find opportunity?
Well worth reading.

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