History repeats itself When Civilized People Ignore its Lessons

In both the months leading up to and the days following last week’s announcement by Obama of his capitulation to the tyrannical Islamist Iranians (aka an outline for a possible deal paving the way for Iran to produce nuclear weapons and fulfill its non-negotiable promise to annihilate Israel), many across the political spectrum have compared the negotiations to Chamberlain’s Munich Agreement.

This is the deal made by what could be called the “P3” and Germany. Hitler was vying for the Sudetenland, strategically important to Czechoslovakia because its border defenses and major industries located there. France, the UK and Italy signed a deal with Germany caving to its demands to control the area. The Czechs were left out of the discussions despite recognizing that the “Munich Betrayal” would lead to its invasion.

Every American should watch the video of Chamberlain’s infamous announcement upon returning from the signing of the Munich Agreement as he claimed it was “a prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace.” It is impossible to watch that video and not query not only how someone of such esteem could have mispredicted his evil adversary, but also how the throngs of cheering British citizens could have supported such a capitulation.

Alas, it is important to understand the historical context of Chamberlain’s appeasement. The British were war weary – not in the sense of America’s frame-of-mind post-Iraq and Afghan wars.  World War I resulted in the death of over 16 million people with another 20 million wounded, which makes it one of history’s deadliest conflicts.  Of those, the British lost close to 1 million civilian and military personnel with an additional 1.7 million wounded.

Those figures do not justify Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement. But historian James P. Levy explained:

Knowing what Hitler did later, the critics of Appeasement condemn the men who tried to keep the peace in the 1930s, men who could not know what would come later…The political leaders responsible for Appeasement made many errors. They were not blameless. But what they attempted was logical, rational, and humane.

Fast forward to today and Obama’s Chamberlain moment. Unlike the “men who could not know what would come later,” world leaders today would be justified playing Monday morning quarterback - on the Saturday before the big game. The lessons of history are available for all to learn and presumably the leaders of the Western world are familiar with them. With the benefit of hindsight, the prior errors of world leaders should easily be avoided.

Instead, we are shockingly watching these events play out with Obama and his team of faux negotiators not only capitulating on a scale potentially (given that nuclear weapons are the ultimate prize) far more dangerous than Chamberlain’s, but also doing so with eyes wide open. Obama’s efforts cannot be labeled “logical, rational, and humane.” It is illogical, irrational and inhumane to subject the world to a nuclear Iran – and the inevitability of war.

Caroline Glick explained

There are many reasons this war is now inevitable.

Every state threatened by Iran has been watching the Western collapse in Switzerland.

They have been watching the Iranian advance on the ground. And today all of them are wondering the same thing: When and what should we strike to minimize the threats we are facing.

Everyone recognizes that the situation is only going to get worse. With each passing week, Iran’s power and brazenness will only increase.

Everyone understands this. And this week they learned that with Washington heading the committee welcoming Iran’s regional hegemony and nuclear capabilities, no outside power will stand up to Iran’s rise. The future of every state in the region hangs in the balance. And so, it can be expected that everyone is now working out a means to preempt and prevent a greater disaster.

And just as the Czechs, the people who would be the first to feel the immediate and violent impact of the Munich Agreement, were left out of the negotiations, Obama has left Israel, the main country in Iran’s crossfire, out in the cold. Just as Winston Churchill recognized the horrific nature of the Munich Agreement when he stated

The partition of Czechoslovakia under pressure from England and France amounts to the complete surrender of the Western Democracies to the Nazi threat of force. Such a collapse will bring peace or security neither to England nor to France,

Netanyahu recognized the dangers of the “Lausanne Non-Agreement” when he stated

This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would  threaten the very survival of the State of Israel….

This deal would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy, and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It would pave it.

It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war.

David Pryce-Jones compared the Lausanne framework to the Anglo-German Naval Treaty of 1935 that was intended to limit the size of the German navy in relation to that of the British Royal Navy.  Because of conflicting expectations between the parties (just as the U.S. and Iranian descriptions of the recent deal are completely contradictory), Hitler renounced that treaty four years later. Pryce-Jones concluded that

having got this far, the Iranians can calculate how much further to go, for instance building intercontinental ballistic missiles and anti-aircraft defenses and cheating with impunity in their nuclear development. Iran is in the hands of a regime vicious with its own people and duplicitous and war-mongering with other countries. Negotiation with it is already a tribute to self-deception.

Pryce-Jones also observed that while the treaty was in discussions, Hitler wanted to test the British will.  One such trial of British resolve resulted in the public beating by German officers of a British nurse working in a Germany hospital. Today, Iran is following course as three American citizens are ignored by their government while being tortured in Iranian jails. Just as the British government did not protect its citizens from unprovoked German aggression, the Iranians have learned that the U.S. will not defend its own.

One would also think that world leaders would have learned from the lessons of the nuclear negotiations with North Korea. Like watching Chamberlain tout his historically disastrous agreement with Hitler, listening to Clinton announce that his agreement with the North Koreans “is a good deal for the United States,” is surreal. Clinton stated

North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons….

The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments. Only as it does so will North Korea fully join the community of nations.

Perhaps Obama took a page from Clinton’s playbook when, in 2009 he announced, “The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right, but it comes with real responsibilities.”

Six years later, in his recent speech before a joint session of Congress and using Obama’s (and Clinton’s) words, Netanyahu pointed out the failures of Obama’s diplomacy stating, “At a time when many hope Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.”

So how have we gotten to a place where the community of nations to whom the safety and well-being of Western civilization have been entrusted are willing to sign the death warrant on the lives of potentially millions of their citizens and that of their ally Israel? To be clear, short of an Israeli preemptive strike (with the horrific ramifications described here), Iran will obtain nuclear weapons under the Obama framework. Daniel Henninger observed, “What happens in Lausanne doesn’t matter. No agreement is going to stop Iran. Agreements, and a lot of talk, did not stop North Korea.”  Henninger concluded:

North Korea proves, irrefutably, that the “talks” model, absent credible measures of coercion or threat, won’t work.

Iran knows it has nuclear negotiators’ immunity: No matter how or when Iran debauches any agreement, the West, abjectly, will request—what else?—more talks. Iran’s nuclear-bomb and ballistic-missile programs will go forward, as North Korea’s obviously did, no matter what.

So Daniel Henninger gets it as does Caroline Glick. The Republican members of Congress get it, as do some Democrats. Even the French, far from being known for their military aggression, are not happy with the direction of the negotiations. And yet, come June an agreement may be signed with UN approval rather than U.S Congressional approval. So who is to blame for the pending disaster?

I blame the American people. Our democracy gives each and everyone of us a voice. We elected Obama twice. We elected Senators like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer. We have sent a message to Iran and the rest of the world that we are a country of appeasers.

For those who fail to heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its tragedies. And history is repeating itself while far too many Americans ignorantly cheer on the false claims of “peace in our time” while ignoring their president who only cares about peace during his term. History will not look kindly on America circa 2007-2016.

Image by Dianny of patriotretort.com

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