The Folly of Ignoring Dictators

Sept. 20 2022

Visiting the family archives of an English marquess, George Weigel came across the diary of the statesman Robert “Bobbety” Cranborne, who had served in the cabinet under Stanley Baldwin. The diary included notes on a 1935 dinner in Berlin attended by the future prime minister Anthony Eden, Adolf Hitler, and several high-ranking Nazis. Weigel paraphrases Cranborne’s conclusions about this “dinner party from Hell.”

There would be no stopping Hitler by any means other than armed force. The Führer had made himself a de-facto dictator by the Enabling Act of 1933. Nine months before the Eden-Cranborne mission [to Berlin] he had announced Germany’s remilitarization, including the reintroduction of conscription and the creation of a German air force. In all of this, he was following the plan he had described in detail in his turgid screed, Mein Kampf. Until early 1939, however, much of the civilized world refused to see what Lord Cranborne saw and refused to believe that Hitler meant what he wrote. Rather, the civilized world averted its eyes from what it should have recognized as the unmistakable threat posed by a re-arming Germany, which had taken on much of the world in 1914–1918 and almost won.

Looking through Bobbety Cranborne’s diary, it was impossible not to think of those today who still refuse to take Vladimir Putin at his word when he claims that Ukraine is a non-nation, or who defend his brutal war against Ukraine as a response to legitimate Russian security concerns, or who somehow believe that a “barking” NATO provoked Putin to do what he had signaled for decades that he intended to do: namely, reverse history’s verdict in the cold war. Such blindness is not only a matter of historical amnesia or unrealistic foreign-policy “realism.” It is also a moral and spiritual failing—the moral failure to recognize evil for what it is, and the spiritual failure to summon the wit and will to oppose it before it destroys whatever stands in its path.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at First Things

More about: Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Putin

The Palestinian Authority Is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Jan. 31 2023

On Thursday, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials announced that they had ceased all security cooperation with Israel; the next two days saw two deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. But the PA has in the past made numerous threats that it will sever its ties with the Israeli government, and has so far never made good on them. Efraim Inbar poses a different set of questions: does cooperation with Palestinian leaders who actively encourage—and provide financial incentives for—the murder of Jews really help Israel protect its citizens? And might there be a better alternative?

The PA leader Mahmoud Abbas seems unable to rule effectively, i.e., to maintain a modicum of law and order in the territories under his control. He lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007, and we now see the “Lebanonization” of the PA taking place in the West Bank: the emergence of myriad armed groups, with some displaying only limited loyalty to the PA, and others, especially the Islamists, trying to undermine the current regime.

[The PA’s] education system and media continue propagating tremendous hostility toward Jews while blaming Israel for all Palestinian problems. Security cooperation with Israel primarily concerns apprehending armed activists of the Islamist opposition, as the PA often turns a blind eye to terrorist activities against Israel. In short, Abbas and his coterie are part of the problem, not of the solution. Jerusalem should thus think twice about promoting efforts to preserve PA rule and prevent a descent into chaos while rejecting the reoccupation of the West Bank.

Chaos is indeed not a pleasant prospect. Chaos in the territories poses a security problem to Israel, but one that will be mitigated if the various Palestinian militias vying for influence compete with each other. A succession struggle following the death of Abbas could divert attention from fighting hated Israel and prevent coordination in the low-intensity conflict against it. In addition, anarchy in the territories may give Israel a freer hand in dealing with the terrorists.

Furthermore, chaos might ultimately yield positive results. The collapse of the PA will weaken the Palestinian national movement, which heretofore has been a source of endemic violence and is a recipe for regional instability in the future.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror