Sunday, May 18, 2008

Appeasement



It appears to me that many conservatives either don't know what appeasement is, or otherwise willfully misunderstand. I'm not referring just to dipshit Kevin James, who doesn't seem to know what happened at Munich in 1938. I'm talking about the statements of George Bush, subsequently supported by the McCain camp (though they then tried to distance themselves from the remarks). In front of the Knesset (Israel's parliament), Bush made what was transparently an attack on Obama.
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.

Actually, negotiating isn't some sort of skilled argument designed to make hostile groups see the error of their ways, rather it is an attempt to reconcile partly differing strategic interests. The fact that Bush seems to feel this way would explain a lot about the presidents world-view.
Second, Bush doesn't seem to understand what appeasement is. This seems tied to the peculiar idea we have in America that we should only talk to people we like, and if America talks to hostile powers it somehow confers legitimacy on them. Pace Bush, appeasement is not simply talking to the enemy, rather it is giving in to an aggressor's demands rather than put up armed opposition. Once again, the statement says a lot about Bush's mentality... if the president honestly thinks that any negotiation is "appeasement", you can see why he stubbornly refuses to talk to Hamas and Iran.
One of my pet peeves is when people liken whatever situation we're in to that faced before World War II. Every war we faced, people have had to believe our enemy is Hitler reincarnated, no matter how nonsensical the analogy is. I distinctly remember hoards of conservative columnists likening opposition to the war Iraq war to appeasement.
It's time to recognize that this is silly... that we are taking the wrong lessons from that part of history, and using Munich as an excuse not to examine issues more deeply. Enough using this stupid historical analogy in support of any and all militarism.

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