Thursday, September 17, 2009

Did Obama Meet Chamberlain?

Neville Chamberlain was by all accounts a kind and clever man, an idealist with the best of intentions. Eminently civilized, he always took high tea at the prescribed time. A confident and highly experienced negotiator, he truly believed that he could successfully appease Hitler and Nazi Germany. His desire for peace was profound and authentic. And he was dead wrong.

Likewise, Barack Obama, has a seemingly limitless faith in his ability to negotiate with our avowed enemies, to prod and persuade the likes of Ahmadinejad, Assad, Chavez and Putin. He appears to believe that if we hedge our country's bets and keep our adversaries close to the vest, our enemies will be appeased and our friends will remain loyal - if insecure - partners in peace.

"Peace in our time," so declared Chamberlain after sacrificing Czechoslovakia to Hitler's Panzers in March 1939. This seminal event should have destroyed any rationale for appeasement - Czechoslovakia's fate preordained that of wider Europe.

Observing Obama and his non-interventionist acolytes, one wonders: has Obama met Chamberlain? Is he still convinced that Iran's nuclear ambitions are for ploughshares, that its leaders' eliminationist proclamations have nothing in common with those of Hitler, or Stalin, or Pol Pot?

If so, there is hope that all is not lost. Obama has shown focus and fortitude in Afghanistan, increasing troop strength and commitment. To his credit, he knows full well that a Taliban victory there would further destabilize an already unstable region - including nuclear Pakistan - with catastrophic results to follow.

Thus, the real question is not if Obama has met Chamberlain. Rather, it is what did he learn from him? While his multitudinous advisors and czars pull him to the left, he has shown a marked ability to learn on his feet, to assimilate changing political realities. His fate and the fate of our country depend, in large measure, on whether he successfully veers from his leftist origins toward the opposing trends of our time.

Dealing weakly with Nazi Germany's rise contributed mightily to the 50 million casualties of the Second World War. Will Obama's appeasement-laden overtures similarly result in unmitigated disasters over the next decade?

The jury is still out.

Image: Chamberlain meeting with Hitler, 1939

Published on Newsblaze
Published on The Student Operated Press


Petr F. said...

Dear Leslie

Everybody is entitled to her opinion - and I do respect you views.
However, your treatment of 'Munich dictate', as it is known here in Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia ) is not only insult to historical facts but I also feel is as a gross insensitivity to a painful chapter of our history and (admittedly imperfect) democracy. 70% of Czechs were opposed to the Bush's plan
to place NMD element on our territory, and it was never ratified by the parliament.
Actually, PMs dogedly support for it was one reason why Topolanek's government fell.
May by you are just ignorant, or maybe you do not care about the truth and feeling of Czech people. Either way ..
well, ..
Peter Frish, Czech Republic, EU

Anonymous said...

Well, I would never call you ignorant like the last guy did, but I do think that your premise could use some work.

WWII did not begin because Chamberlain appeased Hitler at Munich. It began because England gave the junta running Poland at the time an unsolicited war guarantee. So, when hostilities erupted over Danzing and the Polish corridor (territories that even the English government thought should be returned to Germany), the English were bound to initiate hostilites of their own, thus beginning WWII. Tell me, was Danzig worth the untold millions of deaths that it cost the world?

At the risk of further irritating the Czechs, I'll observe that Czechoslovakia was really pretty irrelevant. What exactly happened when it collapsed after the Munich accord in 1938? The Sudeten Germans went back to Germany where they wanted to be all along; the largely Polish territory of Teschen went back to Poland; Hungary got her land back and the Slovaks had their independence guaranteed. The Czechs were the only ones to get screwed because they ended up having to accept a protectorate. One can be disgusted at the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, but lets please not pretend that self determination did not largely win the day, or that somehow PM Chamberlain caused the carnage of

I think that the truth is that WWII began because of an idiot decision by the British government to give a war guarantee to to Poles that the Poles never asked for. The result was that WWII began over the trivialities of Danzig and the Polish Corridor. But for this decision by the British government, WWII never would have needed erupt, and the holocaust would likely have never happened.

As for Obama and Iran, the Iranians seem to understand that Obama is not going to go to war to stop them developing an offensive nuclear capability. Hence, they will develop nuclear weapons. We are spending a lot of time owrrying about this, when I think that the truth is that the concept of a nuclear armed Iran has already been
accepted in DC.

Ray Katz

Dr. Dan Kuehl, NDU said...

A one-for-one comparison of President Obama with former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is simplistic and historically inaccurate. The argument that Obama's willingness to talk to nasty and brutal regimes such as the North Koreans or Iranians equates to Chamberlain's willingness to sell out allies such as the Czechs in 1938 founders on a whole shore of facts and logic. First, Chamberlain's unwillingness to go to war in 1938 must be balanced by his willingness to do exactly that in 1939. Next, we are facing no such apparent threat as Hitler posed, and I hardly need to remind anyone that North Korea and Iran added together don't pose the existential threat to us that Hitler posed to the Europeans. Finally, does this article mean to suggest that the following were wrong/stupid for negotiating with enemies, such as Communist China and Soviet Russia? They certainly posed a much greater threat to the US than do North Korea and Iran...yet we sat down and talked/negotiated with them:

Eisenhower with Kruschchev
Nixon with Mao
Reagan with Brezhnev/Andropov/Gorbachov

The article also raises the issue of the "missile shield". Our efforts to place this system--unproven as it may be--inside of what the Russians certainly feel to be their "sphere of influence" was guaranteed to infuriate and incite them and call everything we do with them into question, while providing not much of real strategic value. (Since I used to do nuclear strategy at HQ Strategic Air Command, I think I understand a little of this.)

By the way, the Munich Crisis and agreement with Chamberlain on which this article concentrates took place in 1938, not 1939.

Leslie Sacks said...

Dear Peter,

Many thanks for your information and your interesting perspectives.

Leslie Sacks

Leslie Sacks said...

Dear Ray,

What you say is interesting. I think Hitler would have never stopped expanding, irrespective. About Iran, you are correct.

Many thanks,
Leslie Sacks

Leslie Sacks said...

Dear Dr. Kuehl,

I thank you again for your most considered thoughts.

Leslie Sacks

Petr F. said...

Well, perhaps this debate is over - but as I did stop by, by chance, I want to:

Thank Leslie for all nice thank you notes,
apologize for being paranoid

and tell to Anonymous who wrote:

"At the risk of further irritating the Czechs, I'll observe that Czechoslovakia was really pretty irrelevant" this

That is OK with the Czechs. The 'lesson of Munich' is not "save the Czechs" but 'do not give in to the bully'. WWII did not started because of Dantzig or SudetenLands but because each time Hitler did one of his misdeeds (Anschlus of Austria, Poland, Czehoslovakia ..) he was rewarded. He, his fellowgermans and lot of other people started to believe he realy is a superman and a genius.

The difference between Hitler's Germany,
Stalin's Soviet Union and todays Russia
is that Russians today are not threatening, demanding, blackmailing etc. They are retreating, e.g. from EE. Therefore, Obama moves are not apeacement, but peacemaking - and he does deserves his Nobel.

Anonymous said...

You know Leslie, I've been meaning to reply to that for months and just never got around to doing so. Sorry.

You are more than likely correct that Hitler would have continued to expand. My point is that without the hostility of England and France over Danzig, Hitler would not have been confronted with that ultimate of German military nightmares, another two front war. It was in an attempt to eliminate this threat that Hitler marched west in 1940.

The point I was attempting to make was that absent the irrational decision by England to declare war over Danzig, Hitler would have marched east against the USSR. WWII would not have broken out as such, but would rather have been a comparatively small affair involving only Germany and the Soviet Union, and which Germany would likely albeit perhaps unfortunately survived. The cold war would not have borkkne out afterwards, although Germany would have become the dominant country in Europe, which would have been a problem all its own.

We Jews would have suffered persecution and perhaps even expulsion for a time, but the holocaust, which was a spasmic response to Germany's eroding war effort, would likely never have occurred as it did. The little corporal would have gone down in German history rather inaccurately as the greatest German statesman and military leader since Frederick the Great, but by now the anti-semitism of the Nazi regime would be just another footnote in Jewish history.

Ray Katz