- By J. Dana StusterJ. Dana Stuster is an assistant editor at Foreign Policy. He has studied at the American University of Beirut and graduated in 2010 with degrees in English and International Relations from the University of California, Davis. Before coming to FP, his work appeared in the Atlantic and the National Interest, among other publications.
It’s an Internet truism — known as Godwin’s Law — that "given enough time, in any online discussion — regardless of topic or scope — someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis." Sometimes this natural law of online commenting literally crosses over into the real world, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that North Korea, the Internet troll of international diplomacy, called Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe an "Asian Hitler" in an editorial published Tuesday by state news agency KCNA.
The North Korean editorial takes aim at Abe’s nationalist posturing, particularly his support for revising Japan’s pacifist constitution that restricts its military to self-defense and prevents it from aiding allies unless directly attacked. "Prompted by the wild ambition for reoccupying former colonies and, furthermore, building up a new vast empire in the world, Hitler had incited ultra-chauvinism and revanchism and restored the economy serving only for war in Germany. Over-heated in reinvasion, Hitler annexed neighboring countries one after another and, after all, unleashed the Second World War," the editorial states. "Abe’s reckless moves are little different to those of Hitler."
North Korea may have been inspired by Japanese protests against the proposal, which has inspired posters of Abe clad in a Nazi uniform or sporting a toothbrush moustache. Still, there is a distinct irony of North Korea’s latest verbal fusillade: Few countries have been quite so successful in building up a Hitlerite architecture of oppression as North Korea, where hundreds of thousands of people are imprisoned in forced labor camps.
Kim Jong Un has also been frequently invoked by other partisans of Godwin’s Law — most recently when Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, said last month that Dennis Rodman’s most recent trip to North Korea to play basketball for the dictator was "the equivalent of taking Hitler to lunch."
It all goes to show just how meaningless a comparison to Hitler has become. Or a comparison to Lord Voldemort, for that matter.