I have often wondered what it would have been like to live through the Thirties. How would I have reacted to the annual Nuremberg Party rallies, the rants against the Jews, and Hitler's foreign adventures which the democracies did nothing to oppose, the occupation of the Rhineland and Austria, Nazi support for Franco in the Spanish civil war, and the rest of it. Appeasement was then considered wise, and has only become a dirty word with hindsight.. Now Iran is embarked on foreign adventures in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon. It is engaged on all-out armament programs, and is evidently hard at work developing the nuclear weapon that will give it a dimension of power that Hitler did not have.. Appeasement is again considered wise....
We can't avoid this war, because Iran won't let us avoid it. That is the real analogy to the 1930s. Hitler came to power espousing the goal of German world domination, openly promising to conquer neighboring nations through military force and to persecute and murder Europe's Jews. He predicted that the free nations of the world would be too weak-too morally weak-to stand up to him, and European and American leaders spent the 1930s reinforcing that impression. So Hitler kept advancing-the militarization of the Rhineland in 1936, the Spanish bombing campaign in 1937, the annexation of Austria and the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938, the invasion of Poland in 1939-until the West finally, belated decided there was no alternative but war.
That is what is playing out today. Iran's theocracy has chosen, as the nation's new president, a religious fanatic who believes in the impending, apocalyptic triumph of Islam over the infidels. He openly proclaims his desire to create an Iranian-led Axis that will unite the Middle East in the battle against America, and he proclaims his desire to "wipe Israel off the map," telling an audience of Muslim leaders that "the main solution" to the conflict in Lebanon is "the elimination of the Zionist regime." (Perhaps this would be better translated as Ahmadinejad's "final solution" to the problem of Israel.)
Like Hitler, Ahmadinejad regards the free nations of the world as fading "sunset" powers, too morally weak to resist his legions of Muslim fanatics. And when we hesitate to kill Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq, when we pressure Israel to rein in its attacks on Hezbollah, when we pander to the anti-Jewish bigotry of the "Muslim street"-we reinforce his impression of our weakness.....
The larger evasion is this: the Left senses that a regional war is coming, that Iran is hell-bent on starting it, and that there is no way to avoid it. But all of this runs directly counter to their whole world-view. Rather than questioning that world view, they simply assert that this can't be happening. They have to believe that something, anything-no matter how implausible-will stop it from happening. If we just get everyone together and talk, and we keep tinkering with diplomatic solutions until we find something that works, surely we can find a way to avoid a regional war in the Middle East. Can't we? Please? And so the Left confirms the Right's sense that the appeasement of the 1930s is the best historical precedent for the current era.
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