Napoleon and Hitler were the only two men to rule a European empire stretching from the Atlantic to the gates of Moscow, although in both cases the eastern boundary was of rather a temporary nature.
Evil as both were, there is something to be learned from men who can do that.
Having suffered under the Weimar Republic from the hyperinflation of the 1920s, and the unemployment of the 1930s, the German people elected Hitler chancellor in the belief he would restore economic stability and full employment. He made sure it would be the last election that occurred in his lifetime, but fulfilled his election promises.
A rearmament program not only churned out aircraft, tanks and guns, but employed hundreds of thousands of workers. The construction of the autobahn, built so troops could be moved rapidly, employed even more. The expansion of the armed services also absorbed large numbers of the unemployed.
He was careful to get the army on his side, holding out the prospect of rapid promotion to men who had held the same rank for 20 years, and made sure the officer corps made its oath of allegiance to Hitler, the man, and not to Germany, the Fatherland. The Third Reich, although 988 years short of its advertised goal, survived for 12 years.
In Egypt, Mohammed Morsi was elected because his Muslim Brotherhood was united behind him and the opposition parties fragmented. The Egyptian economy had stagnated under Mubarak and unemployment was high, particularly among the young.
Despite the fact his party had been ardent supporters of Hitler during World War II, Morsi did not learn from his example, and made no effort either to revitalize the Egyptian economy, or to conciliate the army. It came as no surprise that the Egyptian people rebelled against his authoritarian rule and that when they did the army deposed him.
The Affordable Care Act has been described as a train wreck waiting to happen. Badly planned, poorly implemented, it should help the Republicans regain control of the Senate in 2014.
Yet, having failed in 40 or so attempts to repeal it, the more extreme members of the party are trying to kill it by starving it of funds.
Obama may be an inept administrator, but he is an artful politician, adept at blaming his shortcomings on others.
If his health-care bill implodes, a search for a scapegoat will ensue, and the Republicans seem to be volunteering for the role.
They would do well to heed the Napoleonic dictum: When the enemy is committing suicide, don’t interfere.