"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"The Mental Path to Appeasement"

Tony Blankley compares the pre-World War II mindset of the British to that of the present American hierarchy: both realize the danger and hope that appeasement will hope it will go away.

General McCaffrey --- Iran will get the bomb, regardless of what we do or say, so let's do diplomacy to make it all better:

"Mr. Russert: "So it's inevitable they get the nuclear bomb, in your opinion?"

Gen McCaffrey: "I think so. I think they're going nuclear five, 10 years from now. We'll be confronted. And that's not a good outcome. That argues that perhaps Saudi money and Egyptian technology gets a Arab Sunni bomb to confront the Persian Shia bomb. None of us want to see proliferation in the Gulf. This is a time for serious diplomatic intervention."

The last sentence calling for diplomacy is such a feeble, mantra-like invocation of a hopeless solution when preceded by his confident statements that he thinks they want the bomb and will get it. Virtually no one believes Iran only wants peaceful nuclear generation. Neither do serious people believe that enactable economic and diplomatic sanctions will deflect the Iranians from their objective.


Contrary to popular history, the British government was under little illusion concerning Hitler's nature and objectives in the early 1930s.

    Those illusions only emerged as mental rationalizations later in the 1930's.

    In April 1933, just three months after Hitler became chancellor of Germany, the British government presciently assessed the man and his plans. The outgoing British ambassador to Germany, Sir Horace Rumbold, who had been closely observing Hitler for years, reported back to London in a special dispatch to the prime minister on April 26, 1933. He warned his government to take "Mein Kampf" seriously.

    He assessed that Hitler would resort to periodic peaceful claims "to induce a sense of security abroad." But that he planned to expand into Russia and "would not abandon the cardinal points of his program," but would seek to "lull adversaries into such a state of coma that they will allow themselves to be engaged one by one." The ambassador was sure that "a deliberate policy is now being pursued, whose aim was to prepare Germany militarily before her adversaries could interfere." He also warned that Hitler personally believed in his violent anti-Semitism and that it was central to his government policy. Back in London, Major General A.C. Temperley briefed the prime minister on the Rumbold dispatch that if Britain did not stop Hitler right away, the alternative was "to allow things to drift for another five years, by which time ... war seems inevitable." In the event, general war in Europe came in six years, not five.

    But because the British people, still under the sway of their memory of WWI, were against military action, and because the politicians wanted to spend precious tax revenues on domestic programs, they walked away from their own good judgment.

    The unpleasantness of dealing with Hitler and the public's abhorrence of another war led the new British ambassador to Germany, Sir Eric Phipps, responding to the Rumbold dispatch, to argue in that fateful month of April of 1933 that "We cannot regard him solely as the author of 'Mein Kampf,' for in such a case we should logically be bound to adopt the policy of preventive war." So, he argued, "The best hope is to bind him, that is, by a [disarmament] agreement bearing his signature freely and proudly given ... By some odd kink in his mental make-up he might even feel compelled to honour it." Here we have the 1930s version of Gen. McCaffrey's statement. Ambassador Phipps first states the obvious: To wit, if Hitler is as the government believes him to be, logic requires a preventive war. But they don't want to do that, so he hopes Hitler isn't as they know him to be, and they seek a diplomatic agreement, which even Phipps recognized was unlikely to be honored.

    Just so, Gen. McCaffrey, representing the overwhelming view of government officials and major media in the West, first states the obvious: Iran will get the bomb. Then he ends with so let's just do diplomacy.

    In fact, Western leaders are resigned to Iran getting the bomb. The diplomacy is understood to be as pointless as getting Hitler to honor a disarmament treaty. But "leaders" have to be seen to be doing something — even if they know it is futile.

    This defeatist attitude exists largely because of the bad precedent of the Iraq war — just as WWI was a bad precedent for another war in 1933. As an emotional response to unpleasantness, military action has been placed out of the question by a weary Western elite.

For some reason ordinary see the problem and the answer with more clarity than do the elite: appeasement heartens the enemy to bring on more discrimination and violence.


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