It is commonly accepted that governments at war can lie to their people to sustain their spirit. Besides directly lying, the governments can censor the media, which produces the same effect by twisting the facts. If monarchy and autocracy are theoretically acceptable, then temporary lying in extreme circumstances should be acceptable too, as a form of authoritarian decision-making. By this perverse logic, Israeli prime ministers are entitled to lie about the peace process and their electoral promises. Possibly the difference is that lies are only acceptable on a tactical level, and must not falsify national goals.

Leaders change history for the short term only, but that might suffice to inflict unbearable damage on Israel—or on the world, given the existence of nuclear weapons. Assassinating Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Nasser, as well as Assad and Rafsanjani, would have been cheap and efficient, and would have change the immediate history. For years, German generals planned to displace Hitler through a putsch or arrest him during a visit to the front command, but none of them had the courage to simply shoot him. Governments maintain truces, and avoid attacking enemy leaders so as not to be endangered themselves. Military leaders are especially cowardly, being used to discipline and subservience. German generals feared overthrowing Hitler.

Democratic leaders behave poorly in crises: democracy teaches them conformity. The Czech president capitulated to Germany despite a major military advantage over it. Leaders only catch on to danger slowly, after great losses.

Armed with authoritarian powers, leaders make fatal decisions: Czech president Benesh decided against fighting Nazi Germany; the British and French prime ministers procrastinated in signing a mutual defense treaty with Russia; Stalin did not capitulate to Hitler, which could have allowed Germany to win the world war; Levi Eshkol preempted in 1967 and Golda Meir did not preempt in 1973. In the age of fast mobile warfare and WMD, leaders don’t give their nations a second chance. Thus, large centralized states cannot survive because they fail over a single error.

A Hitler today, armed with a moderate arsenal of 200 nuclear bombs, might not be able to destroy a country the size of Russia, but could certainly wipe out a small country before common sense stopped him.