One of the lessons the Western World learned before, during, and after World War II was that appeasing the enemy does not deter the enemy. However, it seems that some Western leaders have forgotten the lessons of the 1930s, and are repeating the same mistakes that people like Neville Chamberlain made. There are striking similarities between Adolf Hitler and the terrorists and their state sponsors, such as Iran. Furthermore, like the British and French who refused to criticize Hitler’s extremism, the administration has lacked will to say “radical Islam.”
It appears that the 1930s are rearing their ugly head.
Similarity 1: Goal to Rule the World
Both Hitler and the Islamic terrorists have goals of world domination. For Hitler, the goal was the domination of the Aryan race over the world and Germany would be the mechanism to achieve that goal.The current enemy also seeks world domination in the form of a global caliphate and anybody who stands in their way–especially Jews–is the enemy and must be destroyed.
Similarity 2: Making Excuses for the Enemy
When Hitler ordered German troops into the Rhineland, British parliamentarian Harold Nicholson said, “…the feeling in the House [of Commons] is terribly pro-German, which means afraid of war.” In fact, the British response was one that called for restraint Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden said, “We must discourage any military action by France against Germany…” (which sounds familiar). Lord Lothian said it was , “…no more than the Germans walking into their own backyard.”, and it was popular sentiment in Britain that the Treaty of Versailles was to blame.
Similarly, some American politicians blame America for the actions of the terrorists. For example, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy found a way to connect the recent Paris attacks to the Iraq War. Apparently for Murphy, history began in 2003 and does not include what the terrorists actually say, when they say they acted to avenge The Prophet, and conveniently leaves out the fact that France did not support or participate in the Iraq War.
Similarity 3: Blind Trust in the Enemy
The infamous Munich Agreement was where British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain agreed to allow Hitler to annex the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, where Germans made up more than 50% of the population, in exchange for Hitler’s commitment to cease its territorial expansion. Chamberlain returned from this conference to Britain and proclaimed “peace for our time.” Five months later, sensing the unwillingness of the Western nations to resort to war to stop him, Hitler moved to take the rest of Czechoslovakia. Britain and France responded by doing nothing.
Obama is taking the same line with Iran in nuclear talks as Chamberlain took with Hitler at Munich. The easing of sanctions on the Iranian regime in exchange for the word of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism to keep its uranium enrichment below weapons level. All the regime in Tehran has to do sometime down the road flip is the nuclear switch, and any agreement signed with the P5+1 powers wall be shown to be nothing but a technique the Iranians used to buy time.
In the same way that talks with the North Koreans did not persuade the North Koreans to give up on their nuclear programs, the same is possible with Iran. The only difference is the regime in Iran is religiously motivated, whereas the North Koreans are not. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations tried to negotiate away the North Korean nuclear programs and both failed; former Vice President Dick Cheney wrote in his memoirs, “…as negotiations proceeded the State Department came to regard the North Koreans to agree to something, indeed anything, as the ultimate objective.” Now the Obama administration is putting the same blind trust in the Iranians that the Clinton and Bush administrations placed in the North Koreans.
Similarity 4: Weak Wartime Leaders
Eventually Hitler went too far, and Britain and France kept their word following the Nazis invasion of Poland, by declaring war on Germany. After the fall of Norway in May 1940, Chamberlain was ultimately forced to step down as Prime Minister. Parliament came to see Chamberlain as the wrong man for the job, and eventually elected Winston Churchill as Prime Minister. Churchill was elected with a coalition government of the three main parties in Britain–parties from which Chamberlain had failed to garner support.
Supporters of Obama like to show that he is tough on terrorism because of the air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, taking military action does not show toughness: even Chamberlain eventually led Britain to war. A couple of pinprick bombings is not going to defeat ISIS. General Barry McCaffrey, criticizing Obama, said that “If you’re going to protect refugees, 50,000 people without water and food, you don’t do two F/A-18 strikes on an artillery unit somewhere in the vicinity” .
By comparison airstrikes under previous presidents were much more intense. During Operation Desert Storm roughly 1100 strikes were carried out each day. In Operation Iraqi Freedom there were roughly 800 per day. The average against Serbia in 1999 the average was 138 a day and the average was 86 per day against the Taliban in 2001. However, against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as of October 2014, the average number was a mere seven per day.
The goal of avoiding war today does not guarantee peace for tomorrow as the West learned in the 1930s and appeasing the enemy only makes the enemy stronger. To fight against the evils of the day, one needs to be like Winston Churchill, not Neville Chamberlain. It does not mean leaving Iraq without a Status of Forces Agreement, but what it does mean is what Churchill said: “Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”