Once I interviewed a psychopath who was in prison. He was in his forties, charming, intelligent, sun tanned, lean, and all went well. As I was leaving, as we were shaking hands, eyes locked, he said to me, “its good I met you in here, Richard, because if I met you outside, I’d kill you in a minute,” and gave a friendly laugh.
I thought of that when lately I was thinking of the causes of WWII, and Hitler. You see the images of Hitler on the American Heroes Channel, (talk about misleading hyperbole), with his mustache, and you suddenly realize that we have to brush aside the idea that he was some mythic figure with supernatural powers. He was a man just like me and you. If you study his face without its mustache, you see that he has high forehead crowned by hair, and a thin, triangular face. It is not a handsome face, but a grim and unwelcoming face. The trouble starts when you study his mouth. That is where his innate cruelty is expressed very clearly. It is a sinister mouth. The lips are misshapen and vulgar, belligerent, with a hint of a sneer. Studying the mouth is worthwhile.
The difference between Hitler and the rest of us is that he was a psychopath who was brilliant, charming, equipped with a photographic memory like Napoleon, and, who, if you got in his way, would have you killed in a minute like my inmate. He was completely unscrupulous.
Hitler as a human being is utterly reprehensible, but as a strategist he is worth considering, especially when we consider IS and its methods.
Part of the gift of imagination is to be able to foresee effects. It we take an action what will its results be? What are the effects that a policy engenders? What are the consequences? What are the new things to which such a policy gives birth? What new formations or entities will it encourage” What elements does it contain that will it lead to failure? To have no idea of these is to open the path to disaster. Ready made assumptions kill imagination and dull the mind to the consequences of what they have enacted.