Archive for the 'Iran' Category

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.
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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 !’

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?’

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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