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Nederlog

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017

Crisis: Julian Assange, Shadow Cabinet, Totalitarianism, Neocons, Christopher Browning


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Julian Assange on Democracy Now!
2.
Needed: A Democratic Shadow Cabinet
3. Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria
     Strikes—Zero Are Critical

4.
Neocons Have Trump on His Knees
5. Lessons from Hitler’s Rise
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
, April 11, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with five items and five links: Item 1 is about some interviews Julian Assange gave to Democracy Now!; item 2 is about an idea I know but missed: A Democratic Shadow Cabinet; item 3 is about the - quite shocking -
solid totalitarian attitudes displayed by the American mainstream media; item 4 is about Trump's defeat by "neocons": I haven't seen it yet, but Robert Parry may be right; and item 5 is about a long review of a recent book about Hitler by Christopher
Browning, who is one of the best writers about Hitler that I've read.
April 11: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site again failed to upload and is still stuck - again - on Saturday, April 8. These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession.

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. Julian Assange on Democracy Now!

The first article today is
by Democracy Now! that in fact has three interviews with Julian Assange, or at least one interview packed as three aricles. I use a comprehensive title:
The first interview starts with the following introduction:

As President Trump’s presidency nears its first 100 days, Trump and his campaign are facing multiple investigations over whether the campaign colluded with Russian officials to influence the 2016 presidential election. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we speak with a man who has been at the center of much discussion of Russian election meddling: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

Just before the Democratic National Convention last July, WikiLeaks published 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee. Then, between October 7 and Election Day, WikiLeaks would go on to publish 20,000 of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, generating a rash of negative stories about the Clinton campaign. Intelligence agencies have pinned the email hacking on Russians. WikiLeaks maintains Russia was not the source of the documents.

For more, we speak with Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

When I review articles from Democracy Now! I usually include the introductions, because they are well done and provide good context to the interview and the interviewees.

It's the same here. Here is Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: WikiLeaks’ activity before the 2016 election is also still generating headlines. Just before the Democratic National Convention last July, WikiLeaks published 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee. Within two days, the head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, resigned her post, in part because the emails showed the DNC worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders, who was challenging Hillary Clinton for the nomination. Less than three months later, WikiLeaks began publishing internal emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Soon, Donald Trump was praising WikiLeaks on the campaign trail.

DONALD TRUMP: This just came out. This just came out. WikiLeaks—I love WikiLeaks.

Yes - and after the fact (which was unknown when it happened) this may have been an extremely sad event: The Democrats illegally "worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders" in fact because he "was challenging Hillary Clinton for the nomination". It is extremely sad, because if Sanders had been elected as the Democratic candidate, he probably would have won the elections.

Here are two parts of Assange's answer, and Schiff indeed is a Democratic congressman about whom there is considerably more in the interview. He doesn't much interest me:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, Mr. Schiff is a Democratic congressman who’s trying to whip up a kind of neo-McCarthyist fervor in order to distract from the epic failure of Hillary Clinton and that team when they lost, of all people, to Donald Trump. So, it’s not particularly interesting.

Yes indeed. Here is Assange on the background of the US government:

I think we should pull back and put things in context. The United States government, since 1950, has intervened in 81 elections—interfered, to use Schiff’s language, in 81 elections. That is not including coups, which have overthrown the government. So there’s a long history of the United States doing this to places around the world, in infamous ways, and, most recently, alleged interference in the election of Israel. So, I think we should understand that the United States is in a glass house when it comes to allegations of attempting to interfere with or influence election results.

This is correct, though I should add that most ordinary voters do not know these things. Then there is this about what Wikipedia published (Assange is still talking):

Now, what is in our publications? Well, from our perspective, we have just published, accurately and fairly, what Hillary Clinton said her positions were, in her secret speeches to Goldman Sachs and in relation to the DNC and its attempt to rig the election to exclude the primary—primary person, sorry, to exclude Bernie Sanders. So, at the heart of this issue is whether people were told the truth about Hillary Clinton and the DNC. If there hadn’t been an ugly truth there, it wouldn’t have made any difference. There was an ugly truth. And we published, accurately and fairly, that ugly truth.

I think that is true, which is to say that the Democrats rigged one of their own candidates so that he would not win.

Then there is (a bit later) this on what might also be rendered as the presumed fight between the deep state and the government started by Trump:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, I don’t want to be an apologist for these people, but, really, party politics in the United States is something that everyone has to get away from, this creation of two polarities by different elites that then suck up all the political energy in the country. Well, we can talk a little bit later about what’s happened to the Trump administration and this fascinating process that we have been seeing about how many days does it take for the security sector to digest a president. Something like 75 appears to be the answer.
This may be true, though - I think - we have to see some more. Now I turn to the second interview, which also comes with an introduction:
In March, WikiLeaks published what it says is the largest leak of secret CIA documents in history. The thousands of documents, dubbed "Vault 7," describe  CIA programs and tools that are capable of hacking into both Apple and Android cellphones. The documents also outline a CIA and British intelligence program called "Weeping Angel," through which the spy agency can hack into a Samsung smart television and turn it into a surveillance device that records audio conversations, even when it appears to be off. For more, we speak with the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.
I have reported on this and I think this is quite interesting and very dangerous, for secret services that insist on knowing everything about everyone, which we seem to have anywhere, are preparing an authoritarian neofascist revolution that is extra-ordinarily dangerous and may set back the earth hundreds of years by preparing an authoritarian state by and for the very rich (like the Roman Empire, more or less) where the rich have all the powers and nearly all the money and know everything about anyone, and where those who are not rich are the tools of the rich, who can be manipulated or ordered around by the rich as pleases the rich.

And here is some more on Vault 7:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Vault 7 is the largest intelligence leak in history. We’ve published so far less than 1 percent of that material. Now, so far, the publications that we have published reveal that the Central Intelligence Agency has decided to create, in the last 10 years, its own captive version of the National Security Agency, not specialized in bulk interception, but specialized in semiautomated hacking processes. That’s creation of viruses, Trojans, etc., to put in people’s computer systems, telephones, TVs, and have those then report back to CIA listening posts that collect that information, ingest it into the broader CIA process. And also information can be pushed, using these mechanisms, onto those telephones, computers, etc., etc., to, for example, plant information that could implicate someone falsely, or perhaps even truly, in a crime.

So, I think it’s—it’s significant that as the Central Intelligence Agency gained budgetary and political preeminence over the National Security Agency, which used to have a bigger budget—in the post-9/11 environment, the CIA’s budget has now increased to about 1.5 times that of the National Security Agency.
Yes, I think that is all quite important, and it shows that the CIA cares about one thing
only: To know absolutely everything about absolutely everyone, and all in secret and without any control or any - certain - knowledge by anyone hacked.

Then there is this quite interesting bit from the third interview:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, look, up until very recently—and I guess we still have to see how it goes—I’ve been delighted by the conflict that has been occurring between the incoming administration and between the security services, etc. Why is that? Because it has shed light on both. It is resulting in the courts throwing nooses around the power of the presidency and tying him down. And, I mean, that’s something that I predicted would happen, and it is happening very rapidly.
(..)
So you can see this in our DNC leaks, that you have educated, professionalized Democrats, who have lifted off the working-class base and who are then involved in a revolving-door system, becoming lobbyists, going back into the DNC, etc. If you read the emails we’ve published about John Podesta, you can see this is not just simply something that happens. This is an expectation within that community. And anyone who doesn’t engage in that expectation, anyone who doesn’t go into private industry and get a $400,000-a-year consulting contract as a local or foreign agent, is viewed to be as a fool.
I take two points from the last quotation:

First, I think I agree with Assange about his delight in "
the conflict that has been occurring between the incoming administration and between the security services, etc."
I do so, in part for the reason he gives (it will shed light, and in fact we have - in spite
of Snowden - still not much light on the constant spying that is done by very many secret services on absolutely everyone), and also because I think that Trump is so
dangerous (especially because I - who is a psychologist, among other things - believe Trump is not sane, and I don't think people like that should have the power to blow up
everyone and destroy human civilization).

And second, I like the cynical appraisal of the DNC, which shows itself - in its e-mail leaks - to be a very conscious collaboration of liars who decided to become rich frauds: It seems to be the "expectation" that anyone who did get into the leadership of the Democratic Party is one who is set to get "i
nto private industry and get a $400,000-a-year consulting contract as a local or foreign agent".

This does seem to be correct about the vast majority of the leading Democrats, who indeed stand behind a leader who was made a multi-millionaire by gifts from rich bankers.

Finally, here is Julian Assange on the deep state:
JULIAN ASSANGE: We’re seeing the—we’re seeing the conflict with the security services, the deep state. Now, I’ve been writing—well, I’ve been writing about the deep state for a decade, using that word. Now, Turkish academics have been writing about the equivalent in Turkey. Some Hungarian investigative journalists, the same within Hungary. And finally, this word is now something in U.S. politics. It’s not a new concept. It’s, you know, essentially the military-industrial complex plus lobbyists, plus contractors, plus people in the Senate Intelligence Committee, etc., etc.
I think that is probably correct, and these where three interesting interviews that are all recommended.

2. Needed: A Democratic Shadow Cabinet

The second article is by Robert Kuttner on AlterNet and originally on The American Prospect:

This starts as follows:

Donald Trump, precisely because his behavior is so outlandish and unpredictable, has dominated the news coverage. It’s unreality TV, and the media can’t stop covering it.

The benefit is that Trump’s sheer craziness gets a lot of scrutiny. But the downside is that Democratic critics have trouble getting much airtime.

If this were a parliamentary democracy, there would be a leader of the opposition, and a whole “front bench” of opposition spokespeople, issue by issue—a kind of Shadow Cabinet.

Leading Democrats could both hold Trump accountable for his bizarre positions (and those of his Republican allies in Congress), and the Democrats could also offer more attractive alternatives. 

They could also show up Trump’s sheer ignorance of the issues, and his crazy inconsistency, and hold him accountable, item by item.

I say. I do so because I live in "a parliamentary democracy", namely in Holland, and I do know about Shadow Cabinets, but I admit I had not thought of them in connection with the USA.

Here is some more about a shadow cabinet:

Once a week, the Democratic front bench could hold its own press briefing; and particular spokespeople could be the ones to whom the media would turn. The press would have to cover this, much as they cover Sean Spicer’s zany White House briefings—and the contrast would be startling. The bizarre versus the normal. Fact versus fantasy.

So … time to think outside the box. Here’s the idea: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate leader Chuck Schumer, and the new Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez should put their heads together and appoint a Shadow Cabinet.

They would need to confer with colleagues to accommodate egos, of course. And there would be some jockeying for position. But this is a national emergency. I don’t think this would be all that hard.

The Trump/Republican policies are so crazy that the more Democrats are able to expose them and pose alternatives, the more the sheer unpopularity of Trump’s agenda will be evident.

I think this may be a decent idea, especially because this might provide a regular - say: weekly - Democratic reply to Trump's crazy lies. Then again, I know from Holland, where there have been shadow cabinets, that while there is some attention from the media, it is not much.

But the times are abnormal, and systematic replies to Trump's crazy lies are important, so I do think this is a decent idea, and this is a recommended article.

3. Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes—Zero Are Critical

The third article is by Adam Johnson on AlterNet and originally on FAIR:

This starts as follows:

Five major US newspapers—the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News—offered no opinion space to anyone opposed to Donald Trump’s Thursday night airstrikes. By contrast, the five papers ran a total of 18 op-eds, columns or “news analysis” articles (dressed-up opinion pieces) that either praised the strikes or criticized them for not being harsh enough:

I say, although I am not very amazed about the astounding totalitarian character of large parts of the mainstream media. I have written several times about it, and I think the main explanation is here: Crisis+More: About Jante's Law,  totalitarianism, ordinary people and groups. I believe this ought to be quite revealing to some.

Here is some more on American totalitarianism:

Cable news coverage was equally fawning. In the hours immediately following the attack, MSNBC had on a seemingly never-ending string of military brass and reporters who uncritically repeated the assertion the strikes were “proportional” and “limited.”  MSNBC didn’t give a platform to a single dissenting voice until four hours after the attacks began, when host Chris Hayes, according to his own account, had on two guests opposed to the airstrikes in the midnight slot.

In fact, this sounds very much like the Gulf War (of 1990/91), which was the first American war run as a propaganda by the mainstream media (and where extremely little reliable true information was given: instead, everyone praised the military and
their expoits, often with considerable enthusiasm, and without any thought or any mention of the Iraqis that were being killed).

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

Due to the mostly bipartisan support for the airstrikes, it’s somewhat predictable that corporate media would follow suit. No need to debate the morality or utility of the strikes, because the scene played out per usual: Dictator commits an alleged human rights violation, the media calls on those in power to “do something” and the ticking time bomb compels immediate action, lest we look “weak” on the “global stage.” Anything that deviates from this narrative is given token attention at best.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.

4. Neocons Have Trump on His Knees

The fourth article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
After slapping Donald Trump around for several months to make him surrender his hopes for a more cooperative relationship with Russia, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist allies are now telling the battered President what he must do next: escalate war in the Middle East and ratchet up tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.
I say, which I do because I did not know that - as the title says - the neocons have Trump on his knees. They may have (and indeed I saw a similar radical shift in early 2009, with Barack Obama), but I don't know.

Then again, I agree Parry knows more about American politics than I do. Here is some more:

But groupthinks die hard – and pretty much every Important Person in Official Washington just knows that Assad did carry out that sarin attack, just like they all knew that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was hiding WMDs in 2003. So, it follows in a kind of twisted logical way that they would build off the fake history regarding the 2013 Syria-sarin case and apply it to the new groupthink that Assad has carried out this latest attack, too. Serious fact-finding investigations are not needed; everyone just “knows.”
As for groupthinking, see the last link: It is done very much more than most people realize. I have to add that I am also a bit amazed that "every Important Person in Official Washington" believes in alternative facts rather than real facts, but it is true
that the same was true in 2003.

Then there is this:
To put this message in the crude terms that President Trump might understand, now that the neocons have forced him to his knees, they are demanding that he open his mouth. They will not be satisfied with anything short of a massive U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and a full-scale confrontation with Russia (and perhaps China).

This sort of belligerence is what the neocons and liberal hawks had expected from Hillary Clinton, whom Kagan had endorsed. Some sources claim that a President Hillary Clinton planned to appoint Kagan’s neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, as Secretary of State.
It is not obvious to me that "the neocons have forced" Trump "to his knees" but I grant that they may have. I also do not really understand why "the neocons" would want "a massive U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and a full-scale confrontation with Russia (and perhaps China)", for that seems to me quite silly and very dangerous, but
then again "the neocons" (in Washington, who run no personal risks of being killed on a battlefield, nor do their children since Nixon privatized the US army) may expect to grow quite rich from their investments in arms sales. But I don't know.

O, and Kagan and Nuland are two fat and ugly Republicans - sorry: they are - about whom there is a lot more in the article. I skipped most of that.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

Now, with the neocons regaining influence on the National Security Council via NSC adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, a protégé of neocon favorite Gen. David Petraeus, the neocon holding action against the New Détente has shifted into an offensive to expand the hot war in Syria and intensify the Cold War with Russia. As Kagan recognized, Trump’s hasty decision to fire off missiles was a key turning point in the reassertion of neocon/liberal-hawk dominance over U.S. foreign policy.

It’s also suddenly clear how thoroughly liberal Democrats were taken for a ride on the war train by getting them to blame Russia for Hillary Clinton’s defeat. The liberals (and even many progressives) hated Trump so much that they let themselves be used in the service of neocon/liberal-hawk endless war policies.
As I started saying in the beginning of this review, Parry may be right, but I don't know as yet.

5. Lessons from Hitler’s Rise

The fifth and last article today is by Christopher R. Browning (<-Wikipedia) on The New York Review of Books:
This is a review of a book by Volker Ulrich "Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939". But before considering Browning's review let me explain why I like Christopher Browning and why I know more about WW II than most people do:

Chistopher Browning wrote an excellent book about the murders of around 6 million Jews, which is called "
Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland", that was first published in 1992, and that was soon read by me. And it was soon read by me because both of my parents were in the real resistance against the Nazis in WW II, which was mostly organized in Holland by the Dutch communists (who lost over 2000 men and women through resisting), which is what both of my parents were (from 1935 and the early 1940ies onwards), indeed mostly because of the Nazis.

And then both my father and his father (also a communist) were arrested in June of 1941, and were convicted by collaborating Dutch judges to concentration camp imprisonment as "political terrorists", of which my father survived 3 years, 9 months
and fifteen days as a
"political terrorist" in four German concentration camps, but which my grandfather did not survive.

Hence my somewhat special interests in Nazism and also in Christopher Browning, for
while I did read quite a few books about Nazism, Browning's "Ordinary Men" was especially good, indeed because it did explain plausibly how ordinary German men could be transformed into mass murderers, through a combination of war, an authoritarian and totalitarian political climate, and military discipline.

Sofar for my introduction.
The review starts as follows:

When the original German edition of Volker Ullrich’s new biography, Hitler: Ascent 1889–1939, was published in 2013, the current political situation in the United States was not remotely conceivable. The reception of a book often transcends the author’s intentions and the circumstances in which it was written, of course, but rarely so dramatically as in this case. In early 2017 it is impossible for an American to read the newly published English translation of this book outside the shadow cast by our new president.

To begin I would stipulate emphatically that Trump is not Hitler and the American Republic in the early twenty-first century is not Weimar. There are many stark differences between both the men and the historical conditions in which they ascended to power. Nonetheless there are sufficient areas of similarity in some regards to make the book chilling and insightful reading about not just the past but also the present.

Yes indeed, and Browning gives considerable attention about the many differences between Germany in the early 1930ies and the USA now. I agree with them but skip them.

The following points I will also mostly skip (as does Browning, indeed) but I mention them because I agree with them and because they concern Hitler's personality:

Ullrich takes a very commonsense approach to Hitler’s sex life, eschewing sensational allegations of highly closeted homosexuality, sexual perversion that caused him to project his self-loathing onto the Jews, asexuality commensurate with his incapacity for normal human relations, or abnormal genitalia that either psychologically or physically impeded normal sex.

I agree with these estimates (and read several psychiatrists who wrote about Hitler),
although I also think Hitler was far from an ordinary man.

Next, here is a list of similarities between Hitler and Germany in the early 1930s and Trump and the USA in the late 2010s:

However unequal in severity the situations in the two countries were, large numbers of Germans and Americans perceived multiple crises of political gridlock, economic failure, humiliation abroad, and cultural-moral decay at home. Both Hitler and Trump proclaimed their countries to be “losers,” offered themselves as the sole solution to these crises, and pledged a return to the glories of an imagined golden past. Hitler promised a great “renewal” in Germany, Trump to “make America great again.” Both men defied old norms and invented unprecedented ways of waging their political campaigns. Both men developed a charismatic relationship with their “base” that centered on large rallies. Both emphasized their “outsider” status and railed against the establishment, privileged elites, and corrupt special interests. Both voiced grievances against enemies (Hitler’s “November criminals” and “Jewish Bolsheviks,” Trump’s “Mexican rapists,” “radical Islamic terror,” and the “dishonest” press). And both men benefited from being seriously underestimated by experts and rivals.

I think this is all quite correct. And there is this on the points that the "traditional Republicans" share with Trump:

Trump the populist and the traditional Republicans have likewise made a deal to work together, in part to realize those goals they share: tax “reform” with special emphasis on cuts for the well-off; deregulating business and banking; curtailing environmental protections while denying man-made climate change; appointing a Scalia-like justice to the Supreme Court; repealing Obamacare; increasing military spending; increasing the deportation of undocumented immigrants and “sealing the border”; shifting resources from public to charter schools; expanding the rights of individuals or businesses to discriminate against unprotected groups in the name of religious freedom; ending the right to abortion; and on the state level intensifying voter suppression.

Then there is this on the differences between Germany in the early 1930ies and the USA in the late 2010s:

If both Hitler and Trump made deals with conservative political partners on the basis of partially overlapping goals and those partners’ wishful thinking, it is simply not possible for Trump to consolidate absolute power and dispense with his allies with either the speed or totality that Hitler did. One of the most chilling sections of Ullrich’s biography deals with the construction of the Nazi dictatorship. Through emergency decrees of President Hindenburg (not subject to judicial review), freedom of the press, speech, and assembly were suspended within the first week. Due process of law and the autonomy of state governments were gone within the first month, as the government was empowered to intern people indefinitely in concentration camps without charges, trial, or sentence, and to replace non-Nazi state governments with Nazi commissioners. By the sixth week, the Communist Party had been outlawed and the entire constitution had been set aside in favor of Hitler (rather than Hindenburg) ruling through decree.

Note that these are large differences: Within 6 weeks the "freedom of the press, speech, and assembly were suspended"; "due process of law and the autonomy of state governments were gone"; concentration camps were started in which many were locked up "without charges, trial, or sentence"; and the main political opposition (the German
Communist Party) was "
outlawed", while "the entire constitution had been set aside in favor of Hitler".

None of this happened - so far - in the USA, and we have now nearly three months of Trump's rule. In fact, what happened was this:

Courts continue to exercise judicial review and uphold due process, governors in states like California and Washington are not being deposed and replaced, the exercise of free speech, press, and assembly under the Bill of Rights is still intact, and opposition parties are not being outlawed. Equally important, large numbers of people are frequently and visibly exercising their rights of assembly and speech, and the news media have not sought to ingratiate themselves with the new regime, thereby earning the administration’s reprimand that they are both the real “opposition” and the “enemy of the people.” Whatever the authoritarian tendencies of Trump and some of those around him, they have encountered limits that Hitler did not.

Yes indeed - and these are grounds for (a limited) optimism. Here is some more on the differences and similarities between Hitler and National Socialism on the one hand
and Trump and the Republicans on the other hand:

Hitler and National Socialism should not be seen as the normal historical template for authoritarian rule, risky foreign policy, and persecution of minorities, for they constitute an extreme case of totalitarian dictatorship, limitless aggression, and genocide. They should not be lightly invoked or trivialized through facile comparison. Nonetheless, even if there are many significant differences between Hitler and Trump and their respective historical circumstances, what conclusions can the reader of Volker Ullrich’s new biography reach that offer insight into our current situation?H

I agree and turn to some of the lessons that Ullrich's biography of Hitler suggests:

First, there is a high price to pay for consistently underestimating a charismatic political outsider just because one finds by one’s own standards and assumptions (in my case those of a liberal academic) his character flawed, his ideas repulsive, and his appeal incomprehensible.

I mostly agree, and I also think that Trump's character is both flawed and sick, and that his ideas are stupid and repulsive, although I do find his appeal comprehensible, quite possibly because I know of Jante's Law - see: Crisis+More: About Jante's Law,  totalitarianism, ordinary people and groups - since 1975, while I was convinced that most ordinary people are more totalitarian than not before 1975. (I admit I expected Clinton to win the elections, but this was only because I believed in the
statistics.)

There is also this, that seems correct:
Third, the assumption that conservative, traditionalist allies—however indispensable initially—will hold such upstart leaders in check is dangerously wishful thinking.
Here is the end of the article:
If we can still effectively protect American democracy from dictatorship, then certainly one lesson from the study of the demise of Weimar and the ascent of Hitler is how important it is to do it early.
I agree, and I note both the starting "If" and the considerable differences between Germany in the 1930ies and the USA now. But the danger is still there as long as
Trump remains president, though I grant that I am a little less pessimistic than I was in December of 2016.

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