Thursday, February 23, 2006

Appeasement 101

Here is a good piece by Victor Davis Hanson...


February 22, 2006
Appeasement 101
by Victor Davis Hanson
Tribune Media Services

It is easy to damn the 1930s appeasers of Hitler — such as Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain in England and Edouard Daladier in France — given what the Nazis ultimately did when unleashed. But history demands not merely recognizing the truth post facto, but also trying to reconstruct the rationale of something that now in hindsight seems inexplicable.

Appeasement in the 1930s was popular with the European public for a variety of reasons. All of them are instructive in our hesitation about stopping a nuclear Iran, or about defending the right of Western newspapers to print what they wish — or about fighting radical Islamism in general.

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But deja vu pertains not just to us, but our enemies as well. Like the Nazi romance of an exalted ancient Volk, the Islamists hearken back to a mythical purity, free of decadence brought on by Western liberalism. Similarly, they feed off victimization — not just recent defeats, but centuries-old bitterness at the rise of the West. Their version of the stab-in-the-back Versailles Treaty is always the creation of Israel.

Just as Hitler concocted incidents such as the burning of the Reichstag to create outrage, Islamist leaders incite frenzy in their followers over a supposed flushed Koran at Guantanamo and several inflammatory cartoons, some of them never published by Danish newspapers at all.

Anti-Semitism, of course, is the mother's milk of fascism. It is always, they say, a small group of Jews — whether shadowy cabinet advisers and international bankers of the 1930s or the manipulative neoconservatives and Israeli leadership of the present — who alone stir up the trouble.

The point of the comparison is not to suggest that history simply repeats itself, but to learn why intelligent people delude themselves into embracing naive policies. After the removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, the furious reply of the radical Islamist world was to censor Western newspapers, along with Iran's accelerated efforts to get the bomb.

In response, either the West will continue to stand up now to these reoccurring post-Sept. 11 threats, or it will see the bullies' demands only increase as its own resistance weakens. Like the appeasement of the 1930s, opting for the easier choice will only guarantee a more costly one later on.


Read the rest...