The Baker-Hamilton-Chamberlain Commission

Radio talk show host Glenn Beck insists that it is 1938 all over again, with North Korean despot Kim Jung Il playing the role of the tyrants of Japan, and Iranian fanatic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad standing in for the anti-Semitic Nazis who ran amuck across Europe. The comparison is not all that outrageous.

One of the most eerie aspects of that comparison is the way we in which we are dealing with these dictators, especially Ahmadinejad. Granted, there has been a lot of bluster coming out of the White House about “staying the course” in the Middle East until a democratic beachhead can be established in Iraq. However, the sneak previews leaking out of the soon to be released recommendations of the Iraq study commission, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, seem hauntingly similar to another notorious bit of historical appeasement by former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

In 1938, Chamberlain, along with French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, signed the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler. This gave the fuehrer the permission he sought from his European neighbors to invade the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia that had been a part of Germany until the early 1800s, thus setting in motion the events that would soon lead to the outright invasion of the rest of the country by the Nazis.

Sound familiar? Remember Saddam Hussein’s claim that Kuwait belonged to Iraq? Is there a Muslim country in the Middle East that does not support Palestinian claims to the tiny sliver of land occupied by the Israelis? And does any serious person doubt for a moment that forces loyal to Ahmadinejad and Bashar al-Assad of Syria, both of whom are supporters of worldwide terror, will take over Iraq if American forces withdraw?

Based on preliminary reports, the Baker-Hamilton commission is poised to recommend that the U.S. should “talk” to the leaders of Syria and Iran, just as Chamberlain and his colleagues “talked” to Hitler in September of that fateful year. They also appear to be prepared to recommend a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Therefore, the commission should heretofore be known as the “Baker-Hamilton-Chamberlain Commission,” or BHCC for short, since by advising the White House to “talk” to the despots in Syria and Iran, and by signaling to our sworn enemies that we are prepared to leave Iraq defenseless, BHCC is placing the young democracy in the same position in which Czechoslovakia found itself in 1938.

The recommendations of BHCC probably will be popular with the American people. The British loved the Munich Agreement until Hitler started dropping bombs on them. The U.S. news media will hail BHCC as the only sensible solution to what they see as an American quagmire in Iraq. What might BHCC recommend if they were to “study” the problem of dealing with Kim Jung Il? Should we “talk” to him as well? Perhaps we should offer him South Korea on a silver platter.

Great danger lies in the notion that we can reason with evil. Chamberlain learned that fact the hard way. Evil, by definition, cannot be appeased. It must be defeated. The comparisons to 1938 are obvious, but the stakes are now much higher. After all, Hitler and Tojo were evil, but they were at least rational. One could even make that same claim about Kim, but not Ahmadinejad. A nuclear Iran has implications we have never faced before.

The erroneous conclusion drawn from the results of the recent midterm election by those inside the Beltway is that Americans want to cut and run from Iraq. I believe the American people would support a expanding the war if the goal was to win it, not just in Iraq but worldwide. After all, have we not been told that this is the central front in the wider war on terror?

Unfortunately, winning has not been the goal, and as long as surrender is the only option on the table, we are all in danger from those who would be emboldened by our cowardice. The American people deserve better. All those brave Iraqis proudly displaying their purple fingers after voting in a free election for the very first time deserve better. And our troops certainly deserve better.