How can we recognize the particular kind of evil among our enemies that is not merely totalitarian, but imperialist as well? Let us ignore the generalizations about physical attractiveness, stature, and certain other anatomical shortcomings, for which pop psychology posits that they compensate with the accumulation of personal power.
For those trite observations are of little help in spotting the next Alexander, Napoleon or Hitler, and distinguishing him from the next Amin, Hussein, Stalin or Mao. While all of those men were capable of great evil, there is an important distinction to be made between classes of despots: those overgrown thugs who are content to rule their homelands with an iron fist, and those more visionary villains who wield dictatorial power not for its own sake, but as a means to establish a base for imperialism.
How do we recognize the truly dangerous, and what can we do to stop it?
There has developed, at least in the West, a sense that there are no more Hitlers. There is even a popular pseudo-Latin phrase embodying the belief: reductio ad hitlerum, and Godwin's Law. Reductio ad hitlerum is a logical fallacy in which something is declared evil because Hitler or the German National Socialist Party advocated it. Godwin's Law says that sooner or later, all online discussions devolve to Reductio ad hitlerum. Common Internet culture says that the one using the fallacy loses the debate, but that is only so because further discussion with someone using the tactic is seen not to be fruitful. And so, many will dismiss my arguments here as a premature Hitler invocation.
But there is a remarkable difference between the two kinds of dictators, the thugs and the emperors. The thugs are focused inward, on not losing the base of power they have achieved. The emperors are unsatisfied with the conquest of one nation, and want to extend their rule to the entire human race. Imperialists tend to use religion as a rallying point. While there is some overlap, and a thug may eventually develop aspirations to conquer more territory, the principle seems clear:
The broader the base an autocrat has in his own country, the more likely he is to want to expand.
I ran across a chilling quote a while back. But first, here is a quote from Ahmadinjejad:
The brave and faithful people of Iran too have many questions and grievances, including: the coup d'etat of 1953 and the subsequent toppling of the legal government of the day, opposition to the Islamic revolution, transformation of an Embassy into a headquarters supporting the activities of those opposing the Islamic Republic (many thousands of pages of documents corroborate this claim), support for Saddam in the war waged against Iran, the shooting down of the Iranian passenger plane, freezing the assets of the Iranian nation, increasing threats, anger and displeasure vis-a-vis the scientific and nuclear progress of the Iranian nation (just when all Iranians are jubilant and celebrating their country's progress), and many other grievances that I will not refer to in this letter.And here is the chiling quote:
After the renewed refusal of my peaceoffer in January 1940 by the then British Prime Minister and the clique which supported or else dominated him, it became clear that this war-against all reasons of common, sense and necessity-must be fought to its end. You know me, my old Party companions: you know I have always been an enemy of half measures or weak decisions. If theThat was. of course, Adolph Hitler, courtesy the Jewish Virtual Library.
Providence has so willed that the German people cannot be spared this fight, then I can only be grateful that it entrusted me with the leadership in this historic struggle which, for the next 500 or 1,000 years, will be described as decisive, not only for the history of Germany, but for the whole of Europe and indeed the whole world. The German people and their soldiers are working and fighting today, not only for the present, but for the coming, nay the most distant, generations. A historical revision on a unique scale has been imposed on us by the Creator.
Can we recognize the Evil One yet? It seems clear that Ahmadinejad's grip on his own country, and his hatred for Jews, is similar to that of Hitler. We'll probably only know for sure by losing Tel Aviv.
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