Posts Tagged 'appeasement'

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.

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.


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.  [, 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’

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’

Iran, Obama, Munich, and the US Senate

My friend David Smith is keeping the heat on Montana’s isolationist senators. Here is his latest letter.



Last August, 76 of the 100 members of the US Senate sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to act resolutely to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons development. The letter stated:

“We believe there are four strategic elements necessary to achieve resolution of this issue: an explicit and continuing message that we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, a sincere demonstration of openness to negotiations, the maintenance and toughening of sanctions, and a convincing threat of the use of force that Iran will believe. We must be prepared to act, and Iran must see that we are prepared.” (1)

Our Senators, Jon Tester and Max Baucus, were among the small minority that refused to sign the letter. Continue reading ‘Iran, Obama, Munich, and the US Senate’

Montana’s Senators Defend Their Isolationism

I mentioned below that 24 US Senators, including both Montana Democrats, refused to join their 76 colleagues in urging greater pressure on Iran.

Our ever-vigilant friend David Smith wrote to both of these gentlemen, asking why.

He has received their answers.  In the interest of fairness, I reprint them in full below.

[from Senator Max Baucus]

It is good to hear from you about American-Iranian relations.  I appreciate you sharing your views on this important topic.

On June 15, 2013, the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani, a centrist candidate as their new President.  Continue reading ‘Montana’s Senators Defend Their Isolationism’

76 Senators Oppose Iranian Nukes; What about the Other 24?

Just when I am about to give up all hope that the US may finally stand up to the Iranian regime and their full-speed development of a nuclear Holocaust weapon, something positive happens.

Led by Democrat Bob Menendez (NJ) and Republican Lindsey Graham (SC), no fewer than 76 US Senators have signed and sent a letter to President Obama, urging him:

to bring a renewed sense of urgency to the process. We need to understand quickly whether Tehran is at last ready to negotiate seriously. Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end.”

The letter is commendably specific:

“Iran must cease installing centrifuges, agree to the removal of 20 percent enriched uranium from Iran, and cease work on the heavy water reactor being built in Arak.”

Further, the Senators identify

“four strategic elements necessary to achieve resolution of this issue: an explicit and continuing message that we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, a sincere demonstration of openness to negotiations, the maintenance and toughening of sanctions, and a convincing threat of the use of force that Iran will believe. We must be prepared to act, and Iran must see that we are prepared.”

Altogether a clear, concise, and reasonable summary of US policy as stated (but, so far, not enforced) by the president.

So here is my question.  Apparently 24 Senators refused to put their name on this letter. Why?  Which part of the letter do they find objectionable?  Are they foreign policy “realists” who think that the world will just have to learn live with a nuclear Iran?  Or are they “anti-Zionists” of the sort who blame Israel for all such problems? (Note: Chuck Hagel would have been a certain non-signer, so there is one good by-product of his recent job change.) Or are they just old-school appeasers and isolationists who think we should avoid conflict with foreign regimes no matter what they do to us or our allies? (Note: Republican Rand Paul did not sign.)

Or what?

I am writing this while summering in the beautiful state of Montana, and I notice that neither Democrat Max Baucus (retiring at the end of this term) nor Democrat Jon Tester (presumably planning to stay on) are signatories.  I’d like to know why.  And I’d like to know the same about the other non-signers.

Wouldn’t you?


Many People Believe They Are Only Sacrificing Israel

Faced with the unmasking of the neo-isolationist Obama and his Chamberlain-esque foreign policy (appeasement of enemies, abandonment of friends, and underfunding of defense), I cannot help but think back to the last time world peace was threatened by such fuzzy-brained pacifism: the 1930’s.

Then, too, building strong defenses was anathema, because it was the easiest place to cut costs, and also to avoid worrying our enemies. Then, too, the concern was that our edgy ally (then France) would get us into big trouble with its extreme demands.  And, then, too, we worried that the seemingly aggressive (to judge them by their deeds and their words) upstart nation with the seemingly irrational leader were really only trying to correct past injustices and imbalances; appeasing their demands while uttering soothing reassurances was the best way to settle them down.

So the current Obama foreign policy farce has already had a full dress rehearsal and tryout on the road; it was…less than a hit.

Much has been made of the possibility of a nuclear Iran contemplating an intentional genocidal attack on Israel’s 6 million Jews (now conveniently gathered together in an area smaller than New Jersey).  The apocalyptic nutcases who hold power in Iran have in fact talked about doing just that, many times over the past dozen years.  Fortunately, the wise “realists” of the foreign policy establishment have always known it was just talk.  “You know how kids are.”

The other worry (as if Holocaust II were not enough to get your attention) is that a nuclear Iran will be the undisputed power center of the Middle East.  Here we ought to heed the warning given by Winston Churchill after the 1938 Munich sellout of Czechoslovakia.

“It must now be accepted that all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will make the best terms they can with the triumphant Nazi power

“In fact, if not in form, it seems to me that all those countries of Middle Europe… will, one after another, be drawn into this vast system of power politics – not only power military politics but power economic politics – radiating from Berlin, and I believe this can be achieved quite smoothly and swiftly and will not necessarily entail the firing of a single shot.

Many people, no doubt, honestly believe that they are only giving away the interests of Czechoslovakia, whereas I fear we shall find that we have deeply compromised, and perhaps fatally endangered, the safety and even the independence of Great Britain and France.”

How chillingly familiar it rings.  Already we see Egypt making its obeisance to the new regional power.  “It must now be accepted that all the countries of [the region] will make the best terms they can with the triumphant…power.”   It may not “entail the firing of a single shot” – just a few successful nuclear weapon tests.

In the 1930′s, inflated and premature fears of German military power paralyzed French and British (and American) action when it might have succeeded, and put off the showdown until Hitler was actually ready.   Excuses for inaction are always plentiful.

Of course, “Many people, no doubt, honestly believe that they are only giving away the interests” of our ally – isolated, democratic, freedom-loving Israel.  But here, as in 1938, they may find themselves mistaken.

The uncomfortable deja vu of all this brings to mind Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Bullwinkle: “Hey, Rocky; watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”

Rocky: “That trick never works.”

Bullwinkle: “This time for sure.”

Bullwinkle (after trick fails): “I gotta get a new hat.”

What Can History Teach About War?

An outstanding essay by Victor Davis Hanson is currently up on PJ Media here and here.  It is a two-part (so far) study of the history of wars, and the interplay of Greek tragedy – victory leading to hubris and overreaching and failure.  Part 1 analyzes WWII and Korea, while the second looks at the Peloponnesian War, and draws conclusions to describe our present situation.

It is outstanding, and you ought to read the whole thing.  But here is the conclusion. Continue reading ‘What Can History Teach About War?’

So who says Hagel is anti-Israel?

So who says Hagel is anti-Israel?  The regime in Iran, that’s who.

On the Iranian government-run channel Press TV, the headline (from last week) was:

Obama to name anti-Israeli Hagel as Defense Secretary

“All signs indicate that US President Barack Obama is poised to nominate anti-Israel ex-Senator Chuck Hagel as the next defense secretary soon, informed sources say…

“Hagel’s nomination is expected to spark a row in the Senate. Many pro-Israeli groups and neo-conservatives have spouted diatribe against Hagel over his criticism of Washington’s anti-Iran policies and Israel’s sway over the US political arena.  ” Continue reading ‘So who says Hagel is anti-Israel?’

Isolationist Obama Unmasks Himself with Hagel

Well, that didn’t take long.  I wrote recently (below) that “If Obama accepts a new round of Iranian talks, or if he nominates Hagel for Defense Secretary, then Israel will know beyond a doubt that it will have to deal with Iran alone. “

It gives real plausibility to the notion (see below) that Obama’s inaction on Iran is not just avoidance, but active collusion in stalling until Iran is beyond the point of being stoppable.

Hagel has a strong record as an enemy of America’s friends (Israel) and a friend of America’s enemies (Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah).  In other words, an isolationist.

In nominating him, President Obama sends a message to the world: Israel is on its own.

He has fully embraced the isolationist creed: The only thing worse than having enemies is having friends.

This is looking like a replay of the Republican-led (and Democratic-followed) isolationism of the post-WWI years. Back then, the US decided France and Britain were the threat to European peace, and Germany was the power whose grievances needed to be appeased.

So,  here we go again.

It might seem that opposition to Hagel’s nomination is pointless, now that Obama has revealed himself so nakedly; any other Obama nominee will have no choice but to carry out the boss’ directions.  But at least a strong opposition in the Senate (and public opinion) would remind Obama that most Americans are not quite so ready to throw our allies under the bus.

So I urge you to contact your senators and ask them to stop this tragedy.  The new website is an excellent resource.

And let me know what you think, by clicking on “Leave a comment” above.

Remembering Why They Hate Israel – and Us

I have not been a big fan of William Kristol.  He often seems to derive too much enjoyment from being different and clever.   I have always put great stock in Burke’s commitment to avoid such things: “I assure you I do not aim at singularity.”  Kristol sometimes seems to aim for it. (Maybe all pundits have to do that these days.)

But his piece in the upcoming issue of Weekly Standard, entitled “The West Fights Back”, is a cogent and powerful reminder of something that is all too forgotten in America today: Israel and the US are both hated and attacked by the same people and for the same reasons.

The Walt-Mearsheimer hypothesis, embraced by right-wing Republicans and left-wing Democrats alike, says that Israel and the Jewish Lobby run US foreign policy for Israel’s benefit, to our own detriment.  Now this stuff is at least as old as the Zionist movement.  It was the thinking of FDR when he suppressed support for Zionism in order to appease Ibn Saud.  It was the mindset of the “realists” in the State Department who urged Truman to withhold recognition of the State of Israel.  (Their “realism” invariably fell back on the belief that Israel would require 100,000 US troops, “boots on the ground”, for its survival in the first year.  The “realists” were wrong, of course, but never acknowledged it.)

And it underlies the thinking of today’s administration “realists”, who think a little “daylight” between the US and Israel will somehow improve things in the world.

Kristol quickly and brilliantly lances the boil of this thinking.  The anti-Israel front doesn’t hate us because we support Israel; they hate us because we are LIKE Israel:  democratic, respecting free speech and religious freedom, willing to live in peace with our neighbors, modern, and economically successful.  Everything the Arabs and Iranians and their allies are not.

Anyway, I suggest you read Kristol’s column here.    And let me know what you think: click the “Comments” button up top.

Obama, Romney, Israel, Iran: Did This Election Matter?

UPDATE:  Obama won.   This piece originally was titled “Does This Election Matter?”  I would have done a strikethrough of the word “Does” before the “Did”, but I don’t know how to do that.

Time will tell if my worries are warranted or not.  But the election has made it clear that the American people are not in a mood to be too concerned about anything that happens outside our borders.   Isolationism often follows troublesome wars.


by Hans Moleman

Recently a bright young lady of my acquaintance was expressing her frustration with the present political campaigns, especially the Obama-Romney choice.  She asked the question many people ask:  Does it really matter?

We agreed that the economy is out of control, but also that economists don’t really know what the effects will be of any policy.  As my friend Finiti says, economics, like all the “social sciences”, is not really a science.  He calls it a branch of philosophy.  The one thing it cannot do is conclusively answer a question about the future.

But I told her there was at least one area where I am convinced that there is a clear choice between two very different outcomes.  I believe that war in the Middle East, and a possible World War, hang in the balance.  And that war, like WWII, can only be prevented by those willing to use limited force before it is too late.

I cited two scenarios.

First Scenario: Obama is re-elected.  Iran continues its current program of nuclear enrichment and weapons development.  Israel warns that Iran is reaching the point beyond which the program cannot be stopped.  Obama, to judge by his past actions, disagrees, and counsels patience and more sanctions.  Obama says (privately) that if he is wrong and Israel is right, Israel will still be safe because we will deter any Iranian aggressive action.

Israel assesses the value of this assurance.  It means that in the event of a successful, destructive Iranian attack on Israel, the US will retaliate with a nuclear counter-attack on Iran.  Israel wonders: would Obama follow through?  More importantly, would Iran believe that Obama would follow through?

What if Russia steps in and warn the US that any attack on Iran will be treated as an attack on Russia? In that case, would Obama risk a Russian counter-attack on the US just to carry out a posthumous (post-Holocaust II) commitment to punish Iran for destroying Israel?

Here the question marks stop.  The clear answer is NO.  US action in that case would be limited to UN resolutions, more feeble sanctions, and dithering demands that Russia stop supporting Iran.

One thing is certain.  Israel knows that no other country can be counted on to prevent the annihilation of Israel.  Just as Hitler knew in the 1930’s that no other nation would take action to prevent the annihilation of Europe’s Jews.  Israel was founded on this principle.  And Iran knows it as surely as Hitler did.

So Israel will decide Obama’s promises are not sufficient to guarantee Israel’s survival, and that it must act.  Israel’s highly effective but limited military forces can severely impair Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but cannot deal a knockout punch.  It would take repeated hits, at dreadful cost.  Russia has already bolstered Iran’s air defenses.  And Iran would feel no restraint in counter-attacking Israeli cities.

Could Israel expect Obama to stand by them while they use up their air forces in repeated attacks?  Obama has made it clear that if Israel acts alone, it will be on its own.

Would the Arab street, even the “Arab Springtime” street, miss the opportunity to join what could be the final anti-Israel War?  Would the US and Russia eventually be drawn in?   What do you think? Continue reading ‘Obama, Romney, Israel, Iran: Did This Election Matter?’

More advice from Professor Walt?

by David Smith

I see Professor Stephen Walt is once again offering us his foreign policy insights (“Time to get US nukes out of Europe”.)

He raises an interesting question about the future US role in Europe’s defense.  But he does so in a way that reminds of the kind of thinker he is. He is a thorough-going Chamberlainesque isolationist appeaser.  He is also an ntellectual leader and apologist for the anti-Zionist, anti-Israel left.

To start, he demonstrates US foolishness by wondering why we still worry about airport security “long after Osama bin Laden’s death.”  He believes Islamist terrorism was a one-man band, now deceased!

And how about his previous advice?

The best way to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons is to engage it diplomatically and attempt to normalize its relationship with the US.”

This is from the his best-seller The Israel Lobby, published 2007. Its central thesis was that US foreign policy was directed by Israel and its friends, to the detriment of America’s real interests. In other words, the Jews are running this country. Continue reading ‘More advice from Professor Walt?’

The Man in White Fails the Ladies in White

By David Smith

Any non-Catholic who presumes to judge the Catholic Church stands a considerable risk of sticking his nose where it does not belong.  I am not a Catholic, so I have no standing to criticize the Church’s internal decisions, or beliefs, or anything else internally Catholic.  (Of course this does not really apply to bloggers, or any other media opinionators, but I like to try to follow it anyway.)

However, the actions of the Church in the world, and especially of its pope, reach far beyond the Church’s Magisterium.   And the past few popes have cast giant shadows on us all.

John Paul II was a great voice, one may even say fighter, for human freedom and dignity.   He had positive impacts in many areas, but nowhere more than in the struggle against totalitarian dictatorship.  With his personal experience of both Nazism and Communism, he seemed immune to the modern disease of moral equivalency.  Nor was he inclined to speak in the soothing voice of a diplomat from a neutral state trying to coax the great powers to play nice.  He was a moral leader, and he knew that the fight against totalitarianism was first and foremost a moral fight. Continue reading ‘The Man in White Fails the Ladies in White’

Military Options Are Not Hopeless

Jonathan S. Tobin, writes in Commentary blog Contentions: Echoes of 1967 in Israel’s Iran Dilemma.  This is a refreshing counter-point to Barry Rubin’s depressing piece (cited below).

I myself don’t know what Israel’s leadership should do.  I have no inside information on Iranian defences or Israeli military options.

But I like what Tobin is saying.  He simply argues that the military option is not hopeless.  Iran is not invulnerable.  This doesn’t sound particularly controversial until you consider how many supposed “realists” treat with the contrary proposition as a default axiom, a matter that must be taken on faith.

Tobin also points to the similarity with 1967, when world opinion was united in urging Israel not to take preemptive action against Egypt’s planned holocaust.

What is most surprising is today’s “realist’s” claim that an Israeli strike would turn Iran into an implacable enemy of Israel!  Have these guys been listening to Iran’s leaders lately?  It’s worse, more openly genocidal, than anything Nasser ever spouted.

Barry Rubin is wrong!

I never thought I would write these words, but Barry Rubin over at Pajamas Media is wrong in his effort to reassure us that Israel will not attack Iran’s nuclear program.  Rubin is a perceptive and courageous analyst of the Middle East and its problems.  But this piece is merely a rehash of “realist” pap about how Iran is so well protected that an Israeli or US attack “will not stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”  There is also the usual stuff about how Iran’s leaders can’t really be as crazy as they sound, and how deterrence just might work on these 12th-Imam fanatics.

Now, we’ve been hearing about Iran’s invulnerability for years.  Yes, we know that some of Iran’s facilities are deep underground.  We’ve been hearing that for years from those urging inaction.

Fact:  In May of 2006, James Fallows wrote in the Atlantic: “Now that Iran unquestionably intends to build a nuclear bomb, the international community has few options to stop it—and the worst option would be a military strike.”

Fact: In 2009,  Defense Secretary Gates, obviously speaking at the president’s direction, has announced that the US has no military ability to destroy the fast-developing Iranian nuclear program.  All we would do would be “send it further underground.”

Fact:  In May of 2011, The AP reports thatIran has moved some of its centrifuge machines to an underground enrichment site that offers better protection from possible airstrikes, the country’s vice president said Monday.”

Questions:  If they’ve been so bloody invulnerable for so long, why are the Iranians suddenly burying them? Continue reading ‘Barry Rubin is wrong!’

They Are So Right!

Israeli officials are so frustrated with Obama’s refusal to take strong action against Iran that they are finally speaking out.

Read about it here.

The headline:

Israeli officials: Obama too soft on Iran

The sub-head:

Top government officials laud France, UK, but tell Ynet White House policy with regards to Iranian nuclear program ‘hesitant’

Is there anything more humiliating than a United States president too timid to follow the lead of Britain and France?  I mean, they invented appeasement, for crying out loud!   (See my “The Arc of Appeasement” below or here.)

Has there ever been a more anti-Israel, pro-appeasement president than Obama?  Not even Eisenhower, no friend of Israel, would have stood for Iran’s outrageous actions.  Unfortunately, Obama cannot distinguish between speeches and actions.  He believes that when he speaks, the world listens.  But why would they?

In O’s first year, French President Sarkozy lectured Obama for his big talk unaccompanied by action.  He told the Security Council (I spotlighted it below, in “A French Lesson”):

“We live in the real world, not the virtual world. And the real world expects us to take decisions.    President Obama dreams of a world without weapons … but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite.  Iran since 2005 has flouted five security council resolutions. North Korea has been defying council resolutions since 1993…”

Since that scolding, Obama has continued to block any type of strong action, including serious sanctions.  As he has done before, he supports the weakest possible sanctions and hopes everything will somehow work out.


Flashback: Bullwinkle: “Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”

Rocky: “That trick never works.”

Bullwinkle: “This time for sure.”

Bullwinkle (after trick fails): “I gotta get a new hat.”


Obama doesn’t need a new hat.  He needs a backbone.

The Arc of Appeasement: Germany and Iran

Once again, a rising military aggressor is bent on domination of its neighbors and holocaust of the Jews.  And once again, the nations (in this case, one nation) which could stop them fails to act.

The arc of the Iran story is so redolent of the 1930’s British appeasers (not just Baldwin and Chamberlain, but a genuine broad-based political consensus, except for Churchill) that both stories can be told in the same words.

Stage One:  “(Germany/Iran) may be arming for war, but it is not strong enough to threaten peace anywhere. The real danger is posed by our ally (France/Israel).”

Stage Two: “(Germany/Iran) may be arming for war and getting stronger every day, but they are not irrational.  They may threaten the peace, but their fear of our ally (France/Israel), backed by their fear of us, will be sufficient to deter them.”

Stage Three: “(Germany/Iran) is a threat to peace.  They are already too strong for us to stop them militarily.  We must rely on diplomacy to make the best deal with them we can.” Continue reading ‘The Arc of Appeasement: Germany and Iran’

Iran’s Underground Weapons Program Moves Underground

Lost in the (certainly justifiable, if premature) celebration of the imminent fall of the monster Gaddafi, the world seems to be underreacting to this disturbing AP news story from the Middle East:

Iran moves centrifuges to underground site

“Islamic Republic transfers some of its uranium enrichment machines to subterranean facility
offering better protection from possible airstrikes:  Associated Press”

Iran has moved some of its centrifuge machines to an underground enrichment site that offers better protection from possible airstrikes, the country’s vice president said Monday.”

“Engineers are “hard at work” preparing the facility in Fordo, which is carved into a mountain to protect it against possible attacks, to house the centrifuges, Fereidoun Abbasi was quoted as saying by state TV.”

What makes this puzzling is that authoratative-sounding media pundits and prestigious national security experts have been assuring us for years that Iran’s nuclear program could not be stopped by airstrikes, since it was buried in deep subterranean facilities.  This was all patiently explained to neocon hotheads who called for air action similar to the successful attacks that ended both Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs in past decades.  As the “wise men” made clear, the only alternative to diplomacy and sanctions was a horrendous nightmare of “boots on the ground”; and nobody wants that now, do they?

So now it turns out that the uranium centrifuges, the biggest and most vulnerable part of the program, were sitting around in the open air?   Oops.

This whole debate had settled down somewhat in recent years, as both the Administration and the news media (but I repeat myself?) took their eye off the Iranian ball.  If you want a refresher course in this denialism, take a look back at my dialogue with Frankie Sturm,  then Communications Director of the Truman Democrats (a misnamed organization trying to resurrect national security credibility for the Democratic Party).  The title was “A Perfect Storm of Appeasement”, and it was written in February of 2009 – two and a half years ago.

Here is Mr. Sturm, expressing the left’s conventional wisdom at the time (and since):

There’s a lot out there on the futility of air strikes. Here is one article from the Atlantic and another link to a study by the Oxford Research Group. It was easy to take out Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1983 because the entire program was contained in that single, above ground installation. The suspected nuclear site in Syria that Israel took out recently is a similar story – it was just one above ground building. Iran learned from the Israeli airstrike against Iraq in 1983. That’s why they’re so thoroughly buried underground.

Oops. Continue reading ‘Iran’s Underground Weapons Program Moves Underground’

Lead, Mr. President !

[An old union buddy of mine wrote the following letter to his local newspaper.  I couldn't have said it better myself.  It would be a good thing if every concerned citizen did the same with his or her local paper.  The author assures me he won't object to any degree of plagiarism.]

During the 2008 campaign, Candidate Obama was clear about the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  In a “60 Minutes” interview (9/22/2008), he said:

“I think that a nuclear armed Iran is …a game changer in the region. It’s unacceptable. And that’s why I’ve said that I won’t take any options off the table, including military, to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Earlier (July 23, 2008), he told an Israeli audience: “That is our single most important threat to Israel but also to the United States of America. So this is something that we’re going to spend a lot of time working on.”

Since then, Iran’s nuclear weapons program has progressed unimpeded.  The centrifuges continue to hum, fuel continues to be stockpiled, and the only remaining question is when the first Iranian nukes will be ready to mount on their missiles.  When, not if.

And where is President Obama’s commitment “to spend a lot of time working on” the problem?  Whatever happened to all the “options” he so boldly kept on the table?  It appears that the options, along with the “single most important threat to the USA”, have somehow fallen off the president’s table. Continue reading ‘Lead, Mr. President !’

Iran: Same Old Debate, But the Clock is Ticking

One might ask what progress has been made on stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program since the Obama administration took over a year and a half ago. In that respect, I recently reviewed a dialogue I had with Mr. Frankie Sturm, Communications Director of the “Truman National Security Project” back in March of 2009.  It turns out that every word written then is still relevant today; the only progress has been in Iran’s weapons program and in the erosion of US diplomatic prestige.  The Doomsday Clock is still inexorably approaching High Noon. (Whatever happened to the Doomsday Clock, BTW?)

Anyway, take a look and see if you don’t agree. 

See “A Dialogue with Mr. Frankie Sturm on Iran” here.

Agnostic about Genocide?

My friend Ben Finiti talks of having become a political agnostic, uncomfortable taking sides on many of the most contentious issues of our time. I feel the same – up to a point. I agree that many questions (stimulus, bailouts, immigration, health care, etc.) offer at least two sides with plausible concerns, relevant facts, and about the same level of good- and bad-faith arguments.  To invest in one position, I must do one of two things. I must decide that I know what this is all about and am sufficiently informed, disinterested, and dispassionate to be able to say which position should prevail. Or I must use my affiliations as guides to my positions (“My friends/family/party are for it, so that must be the right position.”) Like Ben, I find it increasingly difficult to do either on most issues.

But not on all issues. In the Middle East and around the world today, a struggle of titanic proportions is taking shape. The battles are still small by 20th-century standards. In Afghanistan and Iraq, US troops fight in the field.  Around the globe, security forces try to thwart murderous terrorists before they can strike at civilian targets.  Under multiculturalist banners, unassimilable immigrants demand recognition of Sharia law, accommodation of “honor killings”, and punishment for anti-Islamic speech. Continue reading ‘Agnostic about Genocide?’

Paging Dr. Walt and Dr. Mearsheimer

I Have a Question, Doctors

A few years ago, two professors wrote a book.  Stephen Walt (Harvard) and John Mearsheimer (Chicago) published The Israel Lobby in 2007, and it made quite a splash.  Its central thesis was that US foreign policy was directed by Israel and its friends, to the detriment of America’s real interests.  In other words, the Jews are running this country.

 Accusations of anti-Semitism arose, but were deftly parried by the authors and their defenders.  It’s about Israel, they responded; it has nothing to do with Jews!

(This is why I wish that Ben Gurion had given the Zionist entity a different name, like maybe Semitia.  But then the world’s W’s and M’s would have patiently explained that they are not anti-Semites, but anti-Semitians.  If he’d named it Jewland, W and M could explain that their problem is with Jewlandians, not Jews. Oh, well.)

 Here I note that I venture no judgment on the inner prejudices of W and M.  But I do note that if you check their book on Amazon, you will learn that “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine; Beyond Chutzpah; On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism; Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid (by Jimmy Carter); The Holocaust Industry; and The Power of Israel in the United States.”  I know that guilt is not proven by association.  You may draw your own conclusions.

 So, in the dark days of the dreaded neocon likudnik administration of George W. Bush, professors M and W surveyed US mideast policy and made an interesting discovery.  Every action occurred in Israel.  The Muslim states were mere passive observers, reacting to Israeli and US provocations.  The best example was in their look at Iran. 

 “Israel’s perception of the Iranian threat underwent a fundamental change in the early 1990’s, as evidence of Teheran’s nuclear ambitions began to accumulate.  Israeli leaders began warning Washington in 1993 that Iran was a grave threat not only to Israel but to the US as well.  There has been no letup in that alarmist and aggressive rhetoric since then, largely because Iran has continued to move ahead on the nuclear front.” Continue reading ‘Paging Dr. Walt and Dr. Mearsheimer’

Iran Threat Must Be Faced

by David Smith

The Iranian regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today poses a grave and imminent threat to world peace. A wealthy nation, led by apocalyptic anti-Semitic fanatics committed to the eradication of a neighboring nation, is rapidly developing the weapons that will put that goal within its reach.

The whole world knows it; indeed, Iran barely bothers to deny it.

The Iranian regime is and has always been an avowed and implacable enemy of both Israel and of our own country. Their hatred of us and their desire to destroy Israel are not new. What is new is their development of the weapons needed to accomplish their goal of a Jew-free Middle East.

There can be no mistake; the Iranian regime is preparing for its “Final Solution” to the problem of Israel – nothing less than a Second Holocaust. Their denial of Nazi genocide is a smokescreen to distract attention from their plans to out-murder Hitler. With a weapon that Hitler could only dream of, Iran will have instant genocide – the extermination of 6 million Israeli Jews in a single day – at their fingertips.

Diplomacy and sanctions have been tried and have not worked. China (politely) and Russia (rudely) have made it clear (repeatedly) that they will oppose or sabotage serious sanctions. Sanctions will not work under such circumstances. Continue reading ‘Iran Threat Must Be Faced’

Russia, China Doom US Appeasement

Today’s news:  Russian leaders Vladimir Putin rejects sanctions against Iran, even as China indicates willingness to consider more sanctions.

Tomorrow’s headline:  China rejects Iran sanctions, even as Russia softens its position.

The Day after Tomorrow’s headine: China tags out, Russia tags into Iran-defense match.

Several things become clearer every day.

First, Iran is playing its diplomatic stalling game with masterful finesse.  They have been at the table for years with the Europeans, and now with us. Feeble sanctions are enacted, and then flouted by various nations.  And in the background, the steady hum of thousands of gas centrifuges, both in Qom and Natanz, creating the stuff of Iran’s dream: the Jew-liquidating Final Solution: the Mullah Of All Bombs.

Second, Russia and China are not displeased with Iran’s challenge to the West, and will not impede it in any way.  But, to avoid burning all bridges to the West, Russia and China will continue to play tag-team in threatening to veto any UN Security Council action, swapping the good-cop/bad-cop roles from time to time.  They know that the present US administration will not consider military pressure on Iran without a UN mandate.  Russia and China are Iran’s insurance policy against any possible UN action.  With their backing, Iran fears no sanctions, and has zero incentive to negotiate in good faith. Continue reading ‘Russia, China Doom US Appeasement’

Obama Deserves the Prize

President Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and people are amazed.  They should not be; in fact, Obama has earned the prize.

In the blink of an eye he has moved the world’s only superpower firmly into the appeasement camp. This has been the Western left’s greatest foreign policy goal for the past eight years, and Obama has delivered on it.

Without creating much of a stir, he has notified our enemies that they need not fear us, and our allies that they cannot count on us.

Meanwhile, Iran arms itself for the coming annihilation of 6 million Jews, and the world prepares itself by stigmatizing Israel and legitimizing anti-Semitism.

A French Lesson

File this under “Never Thought I’d See the Day…”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has publicly rebuked Obama’s airy internationalism in the face of the Iranian threat.  The US media seems to have missed the story.  It happened on September 25, and Breitbart has it.

Sarkozy Mocks Obama At UN Security Council

Sarkozy: “We live in the real world, not the virtual world. And the real world expects us to take decisions.” 

“President Obama dreams of a world without weapons … but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite… Continue reading ‘A French Lesson’

The Next Holocaust

I have just finished reading an interesting and disturbingly timely book. Why We Watched: Europe, America, and the Holocaust, by Theodore S. Hamerow, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin, chronicles and analyzes a story too rarely told:  why the USA and Western European democracies exerted so little effort to prevent Hitler’s genocide of the Jews of Europe.

Hamerow gives full credit to the supreme efforts made by the allies in the war to defeat Hitlerism – once the allies belatedly recognized that their appeasement and isolationism would not avert the danger of further territorial aggression.

But he focuses on the numerous instances when the US and Britain failed to take available steps to assist Hitler’s victims.  The public silence about the death camps.  The repeated failure to offer wholesale welcome to refugees.  And, above all, the refusal to divert even limited military resources to disrupting the railroad networks supplying the death camps.

In the final analysis, there were three reasons why the West only watched the Holocaust.  Continue reading ‘The Next Holocaust’

Obama’s Isolationism Unveiled


Health Care Reform and the recession have kept America’s attention firmly riveted on the new administration’s domestic direction.   But something much bigger is happening in the world, and it is going largely unnoticed.

The sole superpower is withdrawing from world affairs.

It is quickly becoming clear that President Obama’s foreign policy has a simple but astonishing goal: to rid us of both enemies and allies. Continue reading ‘Obama’s Isolationism Unveiled’

“Iran Will Never Negotiate…”

I was planning to write about something positive and uplifting for a change. Maybe Obama’s speech to schoolkids.   

Instead, I am forced to turn back to the ugliest story developing anywhere in our world. The newly re-installed (through a clumsy whitewash of an election) president of Iran is back in the news, on the eve of a US-set September deadline for serious progress on stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program. To encourage progress on the issue, our President Obama has been tactfully and diplomatically silent about the stolen election, the arrest, beatings, and murder of Iranian democrats, the threats against Israel’s very existence, and the other human rights atrocities that are Ahmadinejad’s daily bread.  We remain silent in order to avoid giving Mr. A reason to turn against us.  

And how is that working so far, you ask? Continue reading ‘“Iran Will Never Negotiate…”’

Mr. A hears Mr. O’s Message of Hope

So how is the Obama administratrion’s Iran “charm offfensive” working out?  We have some more proof that  Iran now regards us in a new, hopeful light.

Yesterday, AFP (France) reported Ahmadinejad saying “The US needs us and wants to develop relations.  Circumstances are changing rapidly in our favor.  We are on the road to victory.”

And Israel? “The Zionist occupiers are destructive microbes.” 

So Iran is on the road to victory over whom?   The story doesn’t say.

Sounds like O’s message of hope and optimism is resonating in Teheran. 

And Israel?  Well, what can you expect from a bunch of destructive microbes?

A Simple Question

Why do Democrats (the McGovernite New Democratic Party, that is) so regularly beat up on our allies (see Hillary Clinton here getting tough with Israel), while turning on all their considerable charm towards the regimes that despise us the most (Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro)? Continue reading ‘A Simple Question’

Just Wild About Harry

A while ago I did some research and found striking descriptions of 1930’s Appeasement by one of its architects and one of its opponents (Chamberlain and Attlee).  Continue reading ‘Just Wild About Harry’

The Obama Doctrine?

Peter Wehner at Contentions, the Commentary blog, has an excellent short posting about the Obama Doctrine:

“At a new conference yesterday, President Obama took a shot at defining the Obama Doctrine. Here’s my effort at defining it: The Obama Doctrine means criticizing past presidents, Democratic and Republican; apologizing for past American sins, real and imagined, to both allies and enemies of the United States, on domestic and, preferably, foreign soil — in the hope that doing so allows Obama to speak with greater moral force and clarity. The overriding goal of the Obama Doctrine is to make the person it is named after look good, rather than, and if necessary at the expense of, the nation he was elected to represent.

He omitted only to mention the tendency to show toughness by pressuring our allies, and to show understanding by going easy on our enemies.   To repeat myself only slightly:

President Obama’s recent forays into the wider world have been positively Chamberlainesque (although there is no evidence that Chamberlain ever actually bowed to Hitler.) His humble apologies for our sins, his delicate refusal to criticize Iran’s warmongering or Saudi Arabia’s persecution of women or China’s dictatorship, his pious moral equivalence of Israel and Iran/Hamas/Hezbollah. And now the bi-lingual embrace of “mi amigo” Chavez.

Obama’s entire pre-presidential experience and body of work can be summed up as “effective self-promotion.” If he continues to think that the solutions to every problem is “More Obama,” then we are all in for a very rough time.

Pirates given stern lecture, then released

OK, here is a priceless news story from the West’s War On Piracy. Continue reading ‘Pirates given stern lecture, then released’

Ahmadinejad and Munich Nostalgia


Whenever the subject is Iran, I find my thoughts drifting back to the 1930’s, and I realize I am becoming a Munich bore.  But I can’t help it.

Mr. Ahmadinejad (I started to write Herr Ahmadinejad, but I am really trying to lay off on the sarcasm) was interviewed in Der Spiegel [here] yesterday by a German reporter who pulled refreshingly few punches. 

What first grabbed my interest was Mr. A on the subject of the rights of the Palestinians.

Ahmadinejad: We are defending more than the basic rights of oppressed Palestinians. Our proposal for resolving the Middle East conflict is that the Palestinians should be allowed to decide their own future in a free referendum. Do you think it right that some European countries and the United States support the occupying regime and the unnatural Zionist state, but condemn Iran, merely because we are defending the rights of the Palestinian people?

I flashed back to Churchill’s magnificent speech in Commons opposing Chamberlain’s Munich agreement.  (It will be a most hopeful sign when this great oration is once again studied in both civics and literature classes.)

Continue reading ‘Ahmadinejad and Munich Nostalgia’

Appeasement, Old and New

It is common for pundits to quote Churchill about the policy of appeasement and its inevitable failure to cope with aggressive dictators.  But this unfairly allows the policy’s opponents to define it, and gives rise to the feeling (by modern-day appeasers) that the term is an ugly epithet which no one of good will really deserves. 


But in fact it was Chamberlain himself who called his policy “appeasement”.  And under that very name it was extremely popular, as witness the cheering crowds greeting his return from Munich, and his 369-150 vote of support in Commons.


So how did Chamberlain define appeasement?  One of his best summations was the following, from his speech in defense of the Munich agreement, where Czechoslovakia was sold out in exchange for Hitler’s promises of peaceful behavior.

  Continue reading ‘Appeasement, Old and New’

A Dialogue With Mr. Frankie Sturm on Iran

by Mr. Hans Moleman

(Mr. Moleman began this dialogue by critiquing Mr. Sturms’s original paper, in a post entitled “A Perfect Sturm of Appeasement”.  Mr. Sturm responded, sparking a dialogue that is still going, and for which Mr. M is grateful.  There are now 7 responses back and forth.)

The Truman National Security Project is a worthy effort by a group of “Truman Democrats” to craft a foreign policy that more consistent with the Truman postwar principles than with the pacifist policy of every Democratic candidate since George McGovern.

 Unfortunately, their latest paper “Iran: Putting the Threat in Perspective” by Frankie Sturm  suggests that the “Truman Democrats” are still stuck in the dead-end of a thoughtless (or cynical) anti-neo-conservatism. 

Continue reading ‘A Dialogue With Mr. Frankie Sturm on Iran’

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