President Bush’s implied attack on Barack Obama — comparing those who would negotiate with terrorists and radicals to pre-World War II appeasers — is being written off as mere heated political rhetoric. That is happening because the president, as is his wont, expressed a correct judgment in incomplete and thus incorrect terms.
Speaking to the Israeli Knesset on May 15, the president said:
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.
Adding his to the president’s muddle, Sen. John McCain first said that the president was “absolutely right,” and then said he didn’t know if Obama was an appeaser. If the boundaries of the debate were defined by the president’s formulation, McCain could be forgiven his confusion.
On the other side of the aisle, Speaker Pelosi harrumphed about politics being a home game, Sen. Joe Biden (D-RI) gave forth an expletive and Obama advisor Greg Craig said Bush’s comments were “an abuse of office” and “unseemly”.
The day after the president spoke, Sen. Obama — at a South Dakota town hall meeting — called the president to task for launching a political attack on foreign soil. (Yes, he did mean Bush and not Jimmy Carter, whose shuttling to terrorist capitals is metronomic).
He said President Bush’s words were the “kind of appalling attack that divides our country” and alienates us from other nations. But Obama managed nothing more. In his characteristic vacuity he never argued the merits of the president’s accusation. The best Obama could do was say “so much for civility” about the presidential campaign.
Is Obama an appeaser? Of course. But why? What is an appeaser? An appeaser may be a diplomat, but not all diplomats are appeasers.
Diplomats buy and sell; appeasers just give things away. And that difference is something Barack Obama has yet to learn.
An appeaser is someone who is willing to compromise his nation’s interests without obtaining an equal or greater concession from the adversary. History’s most famous appeaser, Neville Chamberlain, gave the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Hitler in 1938 and received nothing in return. Having been appeased — and thus given time to further build his military might — Hitler attacked a year later, conquering Poland and igniting the largest and most murderous war in history.
In Churchill’s more literary definition, an appeaser is someone who feeds the crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
In many speeches (and on his official campaign website) Obama has announced that he would remove all American combat troops from Iraq within sixteen months of his inauguration. He would establish no permanent bases there and leave only enough troops to protect our embassy and diplomats. And, we must infer, he would do so without extracting any concessions from Iraq’s neighbors — Iran and Syria — to end their direct intervention in Iraq.
Obama has never explained what would come next in Iraq. Necessarily Iran, Syria and their terrorist proxies would have free rein there while Obama sought to end the threat of terrorism and solve the problems of the Middle East by personal diplomacy.
Thus, Obama has already offered Iraq to Iran without getting anything in return. And he has promised to engage in diplomacy with Iran, personally meeting with Iranian leaders without precondition.
Obama, by our objective (and historically sound) definition, is an appeaser. For Obama, Iraq is the Sudetenland. What will be Iran’s Poland? Obama would find that out at his first meeting with Ahmadinejad. Having already surrendered Iraq, a President Obama would have positioned America only to give further concessions without any prospect of extracting equal or greater concessions from Iran.
Obama’s promise of a diplomatic offensive is entirely offensive to American interests. He apparently does not realize that in the entire murderous history of the mullah’s kakistocracy, there has been no successful negotiation with them. No nation or group of nations has negotiated a change in Iran’s behavior in the 29 years since the regime forcibly replaced the ailing Shah’s government.
What makes Obama think he can succeed when no one else has in three decades? His ego-driven naiveté is not excused, as Chamberlain’s was explained, by horrific wartime experience.
Barack Obama may be the first president of the United States whose character is equivalent to Blanche Dubois’. In Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” the hapless, destitute Blanche said, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” But strangers — especially foreign nations — cannot be relied on to dispense kindness. History proves that they take more than they give unless some outside force or internal opposition compels them to do otherwise.