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Napoleonic Appeasement

It is not easy to fathom the mindset that believes Obama has found a path to peace in our times. We call it appeasement because that is what Neville Chamberlain, its best-known advocate, proudly called it.  Appeasers believe that every opponent is a reasonable person suffering only from an inferiority complex, in need of friendly outreach and professional counseling.  It is a twin error with isolationism, which is the belief that we have enemies only because we have friends.

We tend to frame appeasement in 1930’s Hitlerite terms.  Since the reductio ad hitlerum is properly suspect (one only needs to counter that “Iran is not Hitler”), it may be useful to look for other examples.

In the early years of the 19th century, European leaders were perplexed by the problem of an aggressively revolutionary France.  The Chamberlains and Obamas of the day thought that they could cut deals with Napoleon.

Here are some prescient words from a 1954 doctoral thesis on the subject.

The defenders of the status quo therefore tend to begin by treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical; as if it really accepted the existing legitimacy but overstated its case for bargaining purposes; as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions.  Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstance are considered balanced and sane… 

“Appeasement”… is the result of an inability to come to grips with a policy of unlimited objectives. But it is the essence of a revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.

It does not take much vision to see in these words the thinking of the Islamic Republic of Iran:  “a revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.”

Think about today’s leaders in the West (including Mr. Obama), “…treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical...” As if “Death to America!” and “Erase Israel from the Map” were just political sloganeering!

“…as if it really accepted the existing legitimacy but overstated its case for bargaining purposes…”  As if Iran really wanted to live in peace with its neighbors, or anyone else (except other Shiite Muslim theocracies, of which there are thankfully none yet)!

“…as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions…”  As if the Mullahs really wanted only to build nuclear power plants, so they could end their reliance on foreign oil!  (Has any diplomat ever asked Iran why it wants or needs ANY nuclear capacity?)

“Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists”, as Mister Netanyahu, Joe Lieberman, and other voices in the Wilderness know only too well.  Someday (heaven forfend), their names may be listed on a tragic honor roll along with that of Winston Churchill.

As for the wishful optimists, the “balanced and sane” folks who counsel “adaptation to circumstance”, well, you know who they are.

[If you are interested in the name of the doctoral student who wrote the above analysis, it is Henry Kissinger, in A World Restored; Europe After Napoleon: The Politics of Conservatism in a Revolutionary Age.  It is well worth a read.]
As always, I’d be interested in your reaction.  Just click the “Leave a comment” button up top, and have at it.

The Death Throes of Western Civilization, Part 97

My friend Ben Finiti alerts me to a great essay on the intellectual implosion that is modern academia.

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If you are concerned about the dreadful direction taken by the modern university liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences, I urge your consideration of an excellent article, “The Humanities and Us”, by Heather Mac Donald in City Journal.

Continue reading ‘The Death Throes of Western Civilization, Part 97′

Iran’s View of the Agreement

[My friend David Smith has written a letter to his local newspaper, succinctly (under 200 words) summarizing the Iranian view of the new Agreement, in contrast to our own president's.  He rightly calls for support of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, already sponsored by 59 senators!  (When legislation is sponsored by a bipartisan majority like that, the objecters ought to be called upon to explain their reasons for dissent.)

Here is his letter.]

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President Obama has crafted what he considers a breakthrough agreement with Iran, to stop Iran’s illegal program of uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons.

Here is the United Nations position (Resolution no. 1696):

“The UN demands that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA.”

Here is what Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s chief negotiator, said about Obama’s Geneva Agreement:

“No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative and nuclear research will be expanded. All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.”

Here is Iranian President Rouhani’s victory tweet:

“In the Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation’s will.”

And here is what President Obama says:

What we want to do is …give peace a chance.

We may each draw our own conclusions about the likelihood of Iran actually complying. But the Senate should immediately shore up our position in the very likely event that Iran violates the agreement. For that reason, Senators Tester and Baucus should support the bipartisan “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013.” Currently co-sponsored by 59 senators, this act would strengthen sanctions unless the president verifies that Iran is verifiably complying with agreements.

–David Smith

Iranian Moderates, Then and Now

We are hearing much these days about negotiations with the new “moderate” Iranian leadership. What is an “Iranian moderate”?

Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

December of 2001, shorty after the 9/11 attacks, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, 4th President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, spoke at Teheran University.

“RAFSANJANI SAYS MUSLIMS SHOULD USE NUCLEAR WEAPON AGAINST ISRAEL”

Nuclear Weapons Can Solve the Israel Problem

Rafsanjani said that Muslims must surround colonialism and force them [the colonialists] to see whether Israel is beneficial to them or not. If one day, he said, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel’s possession [meaning nuclear weapons] – on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This, he said, is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.  [MEMRI.org, citing three Iranian newspapers] Continue reading ‘Iranian Moderates, Then and Now’

Chamberlain, meet Wendy Sherman

As soon as the deal with Iran was announced, many folks asked this question:  How is this deal different from the 1994 deal with North Korea, a spectacular failure?

It certainly looked a lot like the deal Bill Clinton bargained in 1994, in which the US gave the Kim dictatorship millions in aid while the North Korean nuclear weapons program moved steadily ahead.

It now appears that the deals may be similar for the simplest of reasons.  They both had the same architect. Continue reading ‘Chamberlain, meet Wendy Sherman’

Ben’s At It Again

My friend Ben Finiti is at work again, over at his site www.benfiniti.com.  He has some thoughtful essays about his search for faith and hope, as well as some shocking stuff about the new Pope’s apparent predilection towards toleration (at least) of Marxist “Liberation Theology” and anti-Semitism.

I’d recommend a visit, if you are interested in such topics.  While there, you might enjoy his piece on the joys of reading Dante.

This Is A Sad Day

The US and Iran have agreed to a deal, one that will ease sanctions and effectively remove all military options from the table.  In return, Iran will promise…something (yet to be determined).

No surprises here.  It sounds essentially like the deal Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton made with the North Koreans in 1994, after which the North Koreans went ahead and developed their nuclear weapons.

The Washington Post story reporting the deal included this astonishing comment:

“The Obama administration has been seeking to quickly finalize an agreement in the face of threats by Congress to impose additional economic sanctions on Iran.”

In other words, the threat of stricter sanctions on Iran put pressure on…Obama!

(I thought the whole idea was to put pressure on Iran. I guess I really don’t understand this negotiating business after all.)

The only remaining question is whether Kerry will carry an umbrella and wave a piece of paper when he arrives back in the US. Continue reading ‘This Is A Sad Day’


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