The Folly of Ignoring Dictators

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.

Read more at First Things

More about: Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Putin

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict