Saturday, May 17, 2008

I just commented on an editorial written by Bruce Ramsey in the Seattle Times that I wanted to share with you. His piece, Bush and his use of "Appeasement," was written in regard to the President's remarks at the 60th anniversary celebration of the State of Israel.

During his speech, President Bush said:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

In response to these remarks, Ramsey makes the following point:

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. The narrative we're given about Munich is entirely in hindsight. We know what kind of man Hitler was, and that he started World War II in Europe. But in 1938 people knew a lot less. What Hitler was demanding at Munich was not unreasonable as a national claim (though he was making it in a last-minute, unreasonable way.) Germany's claim was that the areas of Europe that spoke German and thought of themselves as German be under German authority. In September 1938 the principal remaining area was the Sudetenland.

So the British and French let him have it. Their thought was: "Now you have your Greater Germany." They didn't want a war. They were not superpowers like the United States is now. They remembered the 1914-1918 war and how they almost lost it.

In a few months, in early 1939, Hitler ordered the invasion of what is now the Czech Republic—that is, territory that was not German. Then it was obvious that a deal with him was worthless--and the British and French did not appease Hitler any more. Thus the lesson of Munich: don't appease Hitlers.

But who else is a Hitler? If you paste that label on somebody it means they are cast out. You can't talk to them any more. And it has gotten pasted on quite a few national leaders over the years: Milosevic, Hussein, Ahmadinejad, et. al. In particular, to apply that label to the elected leaders of the Palestinians is to say that you aren't going to listen to their claims to a homeland. I think they do have a claim. So do the Israelis. In order to get anywhere, each side has to listen to the other. To continually bring up Hitler, the Nazis, the Munich Conference and “appeasement,” is to try to prolong the stalemate.

Of course, most of the comments written by readers of this article were not surprising. At the time of my reading, every single comment was in disbelief that a serious journalist of a major American newspaper could make a claim that Adolf Hitler's demands in 1938 were reasonable. The comments ranged from total shock that the Times would employ such an idiot to pleas for Mr. Ramsey to seek psychiatric care.

At one point, Ramsey himself tried to clarify his opinion. But even then, he had already open the floodgates and there really was no turning back.

However, after reading his commentary a second time, I concluded that while he deserves derision for trying to even broach the possibility that Hitler was "reasonable," his point missed the mark because his entire premise was incorrect.

Therefore, I wrote the following and posted it on the Seattle Times website (as of this writing, they have yet to to publish the comments):

"The main problem with your editorial is that you assume Ahmadinejad and others like him are dissimilar to Hitler. But are they really, Bruce?

Hamas, Iran and other enemies of Israel (i.e. the Jews and the West) want the same things that Hitler wanted. Simply because Hitler was able to accomplish many of his goals and the others have not yet does not mean they aren't like him.

Your premise fails because while it may not have been "outrageous" at the time, it was only not considered unreasonable by those who - like today -choose to hide their heads in the sand and ignore the realities on the ground.

I do understand the point you are attempting to make. Unfortunately, it shows that you have both a naive, uneducated sense of history and an extremely pacifistic idea of life - something most Americans clearly, and rightfully, reject."

It simply amazes me - although I guess it shouldn't - that Barack Obama found the President's remarks "divisive." The truth is, the only way it can be construed as divisive is if Senator Obama felt that the President was speaking out against him. If that is was the Senator meant, then I suggest he find another line of work. President Bush's comments were spot on and direct. Only someone who readily endorses a strategy of appeasement would be insulted by them.

Of course, Obama did say he would meet without preconditions with the head of Iran, and any other hostile regime. Is Obama saying that the President is wrong? Or is he just upset that the President showed the country exactly who Senator Obama is?

No comments: