The quarterly publication International Economy asked a number of analysts whether they agree or not with former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich that (in IE's words) "the present-day global situation bears a striking resemblance to 1935, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's pursuit of nuclear weapons capability - not to mention his anti-Jewish sentiments - strikingly similar to Adolf Hitler's quest in the 1930s for weapons superiority."
Newt Gingrich is not alone in comparing Ahmadinejad to Hitler; German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also done so, and so have I. I did so on the grounds of both being "equipped with a totalitarian ideology and a mystical belief in their own mission" – a deadly combination. That said, two differences make me hesitate about comparing today's situation with 1935. Hitler was the absolute ruler of an immensely powerful country, while Ahmadinejad is but one leader of a second- or third-ranking state. Therefore, they represent substantially different dangers. Hitler and his allies could threaten global dominance. Ahmadinejad can only threaten to do discreet harm, such as against Israel and in the oil markets.