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Apparently Defense Secretary Rumsfeld made a Iraq war/Nazi comparison last week -- and Harper's called him on Godwin's Law.

And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history's lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased." (The Washington Post)

Although Godwin's law simply assesses the probability of eventual Nazi references, what amuses me in this context is the social tradition of Godwin's law: The invoker automatically loses the debate by virtue of his blind smearing of the other side, and the discussion is simply over -- you cannot continue to debate someone rationally who has no rational arguments.

Although Rumsfeld and his handlers were undoubtedly unaware of this law (he'd have never made the reference otherwise; it's a well-known internet trope that people deliberately avoid), the reference makes it incredibly clear to onlookers that the administration has finally reached a point of hysterical desperation; they know they are losing the argument, and they have no ammunition and no logical support.

They've lost the debate; the discussion is over.

Now if only the administration would recognize it.