Remembering Dictators

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Hitler died 63 years ago today, and there’s no better time to remember the supreme struggle undertaken by the Allies to essentially reach that outcome. Hitler was able to ascend to the apex of his power because of a lack of backbone in saying no to tyrants. History, of course, is doomed to repeat itself.

One reads about Iran, North Korea, China, Syria and many other states making remarkably similar noises and enacting similar objectives of power expansion. America is of course a perpetrator of expansionism, but it’s largely a benevolent one, bringing wealth and liberties to areas previously unheard of. I’m not talking of Iraq specifically here, mind, but rather a large portion of the world in general which has benefited from the USA ultimately destroying the Axis powers in the first place. If Britain and her allies hadn’t sacked their leadership, brought in Churchill, and stepped up to face Hitler against seemingly insurmountable odds we might well be part of the Nationalist Socialist Party, SA Branch, right now.

What should Hitler’s death mean for us? First and foremost in my mind would be acknowledging the greatest generation in defeating such a terrible enemy, and remembering all those fallen – Allied and Axis alike – who died following or fighting the drumbeat of Hitler’s war machine. Secondly and perhaps less importantly, one should remember that words without the force to potentially back them mean nothing. The Washington Institute highlights a recent presentation by Ambassador Dennis Ross in which he essentially highlights that the current policy on Iran will not prevent the dictatorship from gaining nuclear weapons:

If nothing else, this tells us that our current policies are not going to prevent Iran from acquiring the capacity either to assemble nuclear weapons or build a break-out capability.

There was a time, 69 years ago, when Hitler managed to achieve a ‘break-out’ capability after years of post-WWI reparations, and it took 6 years of total warfare to defeat him. How long would the current, weak-willed West take to defeat a nuclear-armed power emerging from the Middle East? Somehow I doubt the current generation is capable of reenacting the same bravery and courage necessary to oust a tyrant.

So let’s celebrate the death of Hitler, and a time when the Western world in its entirety (including South Africa in no small part) fought the good fight and ended a reign of terror. Much like Freedom day, it can serve as a reminder for when our civilisation was great, and of what we might one day be capable of once again.