Published On: Sun, Jan 1st, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities: Weimar and Washington by Phil Giraldi

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Mark Twain is credited with saying that “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Today’s United States is often compared to other historic nations, whether at their prime or about to decline and fall depending on one’s own political perspective. Neoconservatives frequently eulogize Washington as a new Rome, promising a worldwide empire without end carried on the back of a Pentagon bristling with advanced weaponry. Other observers also cite Rome but are rather more sanguine, recalling how in the 5th century the empire failed dramatically and fell to barbarian hordes. Still others note the fate of the British Empire, which came apart in the wake of the Second World War, or the Soviets, whose collapse was brought about by 50 years of unsustainable military spending.

But the historical analogy that appears to be most apposite for post-9/11 Washington is that of the Weimar Republic. To be sure, any suggestion that the United States might be following the same course as Germany in the years that led to Nazism must be pursued with caution because few Americans want to believe that the descent into such extremism is even possible in the world’s most venerable constitutional republic. But