Monday, November 25, 2013

Iran: What Appeasement Looks Like

Munich, 1938: Chamberlain-Hitler                         Geneva, 2013: Zarif-Kerry
The Great War--the “war to end all wars,” re-named World War I after another, even more horrible war came along--changed diplomacy forever. From 1918 on, negotiations frequently involved democracies willing to pay almost any price not to go to war, the West’s 1938 cave-in to Hitler at Munich being the most infamous example. Munich turned out badly enough that “peace through strength” (Roman Emperor Hadrian, 76-138 CE) became America’s and the Free World’s operating principle in the post-war era.

Vietnam alienated American liberals from war as an instrument of diplomacy. Starting in 1968, the Democratic Party base opposed war, and believed the world’s greatest enemies of peace were other Americans still willing to fight. In the 1980s, Democrats backed the Western Europe “nuclear freeze” movement. In 1991, only 10 of 56 Senate Democrats voted for war to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion (“Desert Storm”).

In 1994, Democratic president Clinton failed to check genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, due to his party’s reluctance to use force under any circumstances. He later did authorize an air war against Serbia in Kosovo, a sanitary operation that resulted in one American death. Democrats could not oppose war in Afghanistan following 9.11, the worst attack ever on American soil. But the party bitterly fought against the U.S. effort to overthrow and replace Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and once President Obama had pulled the U.S. out of Iraq, went to work to end our combat role in Afghanistan as well.

Under Democrats, U.S. diplomacy is returning to appeasement, negotiations that unfold when one side won’t fight.  With war off the table, the appeasing diplomats simply try to craft a document that looks like “compromise.” But in truth, if only one side is willing to consider war, the “compromises” that result--North Korea (1995, 2007), Syria (2013)--leave the aggressor with what they want.

Such is the likely outcome of our one-sided negotiations with Iran. Michael Hirsh in the National Journal and others are already comparing Saturday’s Iran agreement to Richard Nixon’s famous 1971 opening to China, complete with a Nixon-Mao handshake photo:
the rapprochement between Washington and Tehran . . .could open new doors to the resolution of long-festering conflicts that have left the two countries on the opposite side of bloody divides in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and even the Israeli-Palestinian issue, altering the strategic landscape in a way not seen, perhaps, since President Nixon blindsided the Soviets by making friends with Communist China at the height of the Cold War.
The differences are so striking. China in 1971 respected American power, and wanted the U.S. to help counter Beijing’s unfriendly Soviet neighbor to the north. Negotiations involved two parties willing to war. Negotiations were aimed at a common adversary.

The Obama administration, ostensibly opposed to a nuclear Iran, is by contrast negotiating away its sanctions leverage over Iran, appeasing Tehran by allowing Iran to re-enter international trade without giving up its nuclear ambitions. And who does Hirsh identify as the common “foe” that brings Iran and the U.S. together, the way opposition to the Soviet Union brought the U.S. and China together? Says Hirsh, astonishingly, “Israel and Saudi Arabia, hitherto America's two closest allies in the region”!

Come again? We are uniting with adversary Iran against our two best allies in the Middle East? For what possible end? How does Iran’s gain at the expense of Israel and Saudi Arabia in any way advance world peace? Or in any possible way U.S. interests? The way Chamberlain caving to Hitler at Munich advanced Britain’s interests (“Peace for our time”)?

Appeasement doesn’t work. And “peace through strength”--a willingness to use force against those who understand only force--is the two-millennia-old true path to peace.


Derek said...

Hi Dad,

Yes, obviously "willingness to use force", aka war, is the only true path to peace. It worked so well in Afghanistan and Iraq, clearly we should be trying the same approach in Iran.

On the 50th anniversary of his death, may I recommend instead an amazing and eye-opening - even 50 years later - speech by your idol JFK.

As to the wisdom of the Iran agreement, I would say only, time will tell. If the Iranians indeed dilute all enriched nuclear fuel and cease further enrichment efforts, this will prevent them from making a nuclear weapon, which - I think we can all agree here - is the goal, yes?


Galen Fox said...

Thank you for your comment.

1. Obama's withdrawals from both Iraq (total, complete) and Afghanistan (date certain, announced well in advance) threaten all that our sacrifices in both countries have achieved. I concede the American people have no stomach for war, a real problem for democracies.

2. "With malice toward none, with charity for all." Be magnanimous in victory. JFK's "peace through strength" won the Cuban Missile Crisis for the U.S. I'm shocked that the "American Experience" JFK coverage of the event failed to point out that the U.S. had a 5x to 10x missile superiority over the USSR in 1962, a gap that Khrushchev's reckless action attempted to close. Having won, JFK could move on in 1963 to proposing arms control at AU.

3.The link to the Wall Street Journal in my post contains an explanation of how easy it is for Iran to reverse its dilution efforts and build a bomb. We gave up a lot for nothing.

Yours in peace,