Show me some Spine: "In any case, Herf's posting on why so many did not recognize or wish to acknowledge the peril Nazism posed to civilization is well worth reading. But his real point seems to me to be the virtual identity of this phenomenon in the thirties and the eagerness of many right now to deny or underplay the menace that Ahmadinejad and, for that matter, Hugo Chávez are to liberal society."

How Chavez has managed to go from continuing Venezuela's longstanding tradition of semi-authoritarian rule (yes, it may shock some to learn this, but the country wasn't a model liberal democracy even before el diablo himself came to power there) and implementing arguably unwise and unsustainable economic policies to being a menace to liberal society is a great mystery to me. Venezuela's a second-rate country, power politics-wise, by Latin American standards. It doesn't even rise to the order of being able to threaten Brazil or Argentina or Chile or Mexico, much less liberal society as such.

At any rate, you might have read my brilliant post on the "lessons of history" when I was guest-writing Talking Points Memo, but it's still true today. There surely are lessons to be learned from the history of Europe in the 1930s. But there's simply no reasonable basis for the belief that history supports the view that it's a good idea to take a maximally alarmist view of each and every thing that happens. After all, nobody looks back at the events of 1937-39 and says "if only the West's leaders had been more alarmist about the USSR."