Democrats are rebuking President Bush for saying in his speech to the Knesset, here, that to "negotiate with terrorists and radicals" is "appeasement." The Democrats took it as a slap at Barack Obama. What bothers me is the continual reference to Hitler and his National Socialists, particularly the British and French accommodation at the Munich Conference of 1938.
What Hitler was demanding was not unreasonable. He wanted the German-speaking areas of Europe under German authority. He had just annexed Austria, which was German-speaking, without bloodshed. There were two more small pieces of Germanic territory: the free city of Danzig and the Sudetenland, a border area of what is now the Czech Republic.
We live in an era when you do not change national borders for these sorts of reasons. But in 1938 it was different. Germany's eastern and western borders had been redrawn 19 years before-and not to its benefit. In the democracies there was some sense of guilt with how Germany had been treated after World War I. Certainly there was a memory of the "Great War." In 2008, we have entirely forgotten World War I, and how utterly unlike any conception of "The Good War" it was. When the British let Hitler have a slice of Czechoslovakia, they were following their historical wisdom: avoid war. War produces results far more horrible than you expected. War is a bad investment. It is not glorious. Don't give anyone an excuse to start one.
Our Lefty copped a lot of flak over those words and he has now revised them somewhat. As with a lot of Leftist writing, what he has said is half true. A lot of people of the prewar era DID think Hitler's demands were reasonable. To them, he was after all merely attempting to regain a small portion of the German territory that had been lost to Germany in the aftermath of WWI.
But people who thought that way were wishful thinkers. They were ignoring evidence that they did not want to see. As far back as Volume I chapter 4 of Mein Kampf, Hitler had made clear his intention to grab for Germany the territory of other nations. But people just did not want to believe that he really meant it.
Similarly today, President Ahmadinejad of Iran has made clear his intention of wiping the "tumour" of Israel off the map but again people are blocking their ears. Again they just do not want to believe it -- even though Ahmadinejad has expressed himself most forcefully on the matter. It is clear that our Leftist editor thinks it is defensible for Obama to join the blocked-ears brigade but we must all fervently hope that whoever wins next November WILL learn from history. The clearly expressed aggressive intentions of extremists DO have to be taken seriously and prepared against.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your roundup of Obama news and commentary at OBAMA WATCH