From Hitler to WMDS

A store specializing in western clothes in Ahmedabad, India, has called itself Hitler and is using a swastika as a logo, totally unaware that it would create an international furor. One of the owner’s grandfather was so strict he was nicknamed Hitler, and the store was named after him. In that part of India Hitler and the holocaust are seen through a different lens. Hitler was against the British and the British were the occupiers. During WWII many people in India did not know whom to root for. It is apparently not the first time the name Hitler is used in India, a few years ago a restaurant in Mumbai was forced to change its name after the Jewish community and Israel protested. But Ahmedabad is far more rural and the owners were not conscious of history. WWII was too long ago and too far away. What attracted me to this story which I read about in several newspapers from several countries was the fact that something like Hitler’s evil which in the West could be said to be a universal truth, is not seen as such everywhere. One can make a case for the culture and history of Ahmedabad and yet one still wonder how can it be in this age of Internet and cyber knowledge where anything can be demystified—maybe not completely but to a degree—by a click of a search engine? And then I read about why U.S. analysts could not see through what became the Iraq’s WMDS debacle. They looked at reports from the point of view of the United States, not Iraq. It hadn’t occurred to them to think through how the issue of WMDS looked through Saddam Hussein’s eyes. If American intelligence officers were blind to Saddam’s perception, somehow that lack of perspective helps us better understand—or at least explain—that of the Ahmedabad clothier.