Understanding Hitler’s Rise to Power

So often have political conversations cited the Nazis’ subversion of the democratic institutions of the Weimar Republic that “What if a Hitler comes along . . .” seems a standard challenge to any set of constitutional arrangements. Yet the story of how Adolf Hitler came to power is a complicated one, which Timothy Ryback tells in a new book called Takeover. Clare McHugh, in her review, writes that this book

relies heavily on newspaper reports, diaries, and memoirs to recount in vivid detail how the infighting between cocky, short-sighted members of the Prussian establishment eventually opened the door to the Nazi leader. But also ever-present in Ryback’s account is the role of chance—unplanned encounters, missed opportunities, hidden resentments. Conditions were ripe for this political catastrophe, but it wasn’t inevitable.

Skeptics of democracy love to point out that Hitler was democratically elected, but, as McHugh makes clear, this isn’t quite true. Rather, Hitler managed to exploit a fragile system that had already ceased to function properly through a combination of canniness, tenacity, and, Ryback argues, luck. Thus the lessons of this outcome, though important, aren’t exactly what they are often assumed to be:

The specter of Weimar haunts us still. We can marvel from a distance at how small decisions—made in the moment, in response to immediate circumstances—cascaded into disaster. We can point out that peril awaits a leadership class willing to align itself with political extremists, seeking to counter forces which it perceive to be more unsavory.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Adolf Hitler, Democracy, Nazi Germany, Weimar Republic

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy