How the Man Who Decoded the Dances of Honeybees Survived the Nazis

The Austrian-born zoologist Karl von Frisch received a Nobel prize in 1973 for his studies of animal behavior and communication, including his discovery that bees danced in order to inform each other where sources of pollen could be found. When the Nazis came to power in Germany, Frisch, who had a professorship at the University of Munich, quickly found himself in trouble with the regime. Reviewing a new biography of Frisch, Martha Kearney writes:

[B]y the time Hitler gained power in 1933, it was possible to conduct a purge [at the university] and many Jewish members of the staff were sacked. Frisch faced anonymous accusations of hiring too many Jews, and . . . a pamphlet, The Neutral Scholar, attacked an unnamed professor for devoting too much attention to insects while neglecting his own Volk.

Far more dangerous was the accusation that Frisch himself was Jewish. It seems extraordinary now that while the Nazis prepared for war, they were devoting resources to a genealogical department designed to root out anyone of Jewish descent from the government payroll. These zealous officials discovered that Frisch’s maternal great-grandparents were Jewish converts to Catholicism. The chillingly bureaucratic letter arrived, demanding that he resign his job because he was a “second-degree crossbreed.”

Various academics tried to intervene on Frisch’s behalf without success. Help came in an unexpected form: a disease called nosema, which was wiping out German bees. . . . The president of the South Bavarian Beekeepers wrote to Nazi HQ imploring them to spare “the most successful bee researcher of the world” in order to help the “catastrophic emergency situation.” . . . [A]fter further pressure on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture citing the issue of 800,000 dying colonies, it was finally agreed that Frisch could continue his work to combat the nosema plague.

Read more at Spectator

More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Nazis, Science

In Dealing with Iran, the U.S. Can Learn from Ronald Reagan

When Ronald Reagan arrived at the White House in 1981, the consensus was that, with regard to the Soviet Union, two responsible policy choices presented themselves: détente, or a return to the Truman-era policy of containment. Reagan, however, insisted that the USSR’s influence could not just be checked but rolled back, and without massive bloodshed. A decade later, the Soviet empire collapsed entirely. In crafting a policy toward the Islamic Republic today, David Ignatius urges the current president to draw on Reagan’s success:

A serious strategy to roll back Iran would begin with Syria. The U.S. would maintain the strong military position it has established east of the Euphrates and enhance its garrison at Tanf and other points in southern Syria. Trump’s public comments suggest, however, that he wants to pull these troops out, the sooner the better. This would all but assure continued Iranian power in Syria.

Iraq is another key pressure point. The victory of militant Iraqi nationalist Moqtada al-Sadr in [last week’s] elections should worry Tehran as much as Washington. Sadr has quietly developed good relations with Saudi Arabia, and his movement may offer the best chance of maintaining an Arab Iraq as opposed to a Persian-dominated one. But again, that’s assuming that Washington is serious about backing the Saudis in checking Iran’s regional ambitions. . . .

The Arabs, [however], want the U.S. (or Israel) to do the fighting this time. That’s a bad idea for America, for many reasons, but the biggest is that there’s no U.S. political support for a war against Iran. . . .

Rolling back an aggressive rival seems impossible, until someone dares to try it.

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Cold War, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Foreign policy