A must-read article by Barry Rubin.
We have come full circle. Here is how the last great historical era began, the one we seem to be starting over afresh.
It's January 30, 1933, and here's what the Cleveland Press reports from Washington under the headline, "US Unruffled by Hitler Rise."
"High authorities here regard with complacence Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany... They [express] faith that Hitler would act with moderation... Experts based this belief on past events showing that so-called radical groups usually moderated, once in power."
The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin stated that Hitler seemed extreme in the past, but "Lately, however, there have been indications of moderation."
Perhaps you had to be nice to them to bring about this moderation, as advocates of appeasement proposed.
There were good arguments for that case. Germany was strong, and it was better not to provoke it; perhaps it was better to have it as a friend. Germany could be a profitable trading partner; economic embargoes didn't work any way.
Could the democratic countries really preach to Germany given their own sins of imperialism and injustice? Wasn't confrontation worth avoiding at any price, especially faced with the horrors of war? And what about Germany's genuine grievances as victim of mistreatment by Britain, France and America?
Was it really proper to interfere in Germany's internal affairs (this was the US government's position) or to try to impose the values of other countries on it? Six years later, in 1939, after allying with Nazi Germany, Soviet foreign minister Molotov explained that "fascism is a matter of taste."
And, of course, there was always the final resort: The Germans weren't against "us" but merely against the Jews, who were thus the ones pushing conflict with Germany for their own interests.
Sound familiar? Just substitute Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, radical Islamists, Iraqi insurgents or Syria. All of these groups are aligned, while the West displays its divisions and doubts.