Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Are the Iran talks the modern Munich?

If you read the news and have a pulse, you probably know that March 31, 2015 was a deadline for US-driven talks between six Western countries and Iran. You probably also know that the goal of these talks is to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Iran is aggressive. It says it wants to annihilate Israel (see below). During the middle of negotiations last month Iran’s leader Ali Khamenei called, ‘Death to America’ (Denis MacEoin, “Iran's Supreme Leader: ‘Death to America’”, gatestone institute, March 22, 2015).
Iran also wants an atom bomb. The West thinks about all this (destroy Israel, death to America, atom bomb) and doesn’t like what it adds up to. It wants Iran to stop pursuing nuclear weaponry.
Hence, the ‘talks’.
Perhaps you also know what ‘Munich’ means.
‘Munich’ refers to another set of talks, this one between British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler in September, 1938. Chamberlain flew to Berchtesgaden, Godesberg and then finally Munich to talk to Hitler with one goal in mind: to stop Hitler from invading the now-gone country of Czechoslovakia.
According to Chamberlain’s hand-written notes at the time, he went to these meetings with ‘peace’ on his mind, not stopping Hitler (see “Chamberlain and Hitler 1938”, The National Archives, no date; read Chamberlain’s hand-written notes--draw your own conclusions). He even wrote of helping things along by asking the British press “to write up Hitler as an apostle of Peace” (ibid).
In case you aren’t aware, there is a significant difference between ‘I talk to get peace’ versus, ‘I talk to stop this aggressor’. The former leads to appeasing an aggressor who will not stop once you appease him. The latter requires you to be tough enough to confront that aggressor without blinking.
Chamberlain blinked. The result of that ‘blink’ was an  agreement that, according to some, led to war.  
To get his agreement, Chamberlain made compromises. Hitler demanded. Chamberlain backtracked. The resulting  ‘agreement’ stated that Hitler would not invade. He would simply take control of only a portion of Czechoslovakia--with a written promise to make no more territorial demands in Europe (ibid).
We know how that worked out. Within six months, Hitler had total control of all of Czechoslovakia (ibid). Within a year, Hitler started a World War. In that War, 6 million Jews were murdered simply because they were Jews. Another 40-50 million people died as war victims (“World War II death toll of all nations”, WarChronicle). In Europe alone, perhaps 60 million more became refugees (“Refugees and Displaced Persons Before, During, and After World War II”, The Catholic University of America). Cities, towns, villages, farms and entire countries were shattered.
Chamberlain’s compromises are now considered to be the model for what appeasement creates. That’s what Munich means: how the irrational obsession with ‘peace’ will inevitably lead you to very devastation you had wanted to avoid.
The US-driven effort to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons smells like Chamberlain’s efforts to stop Hitler from invading Czechoslovakia. For both Chamberlain and Obama, peace is the fundamental driving force, not stopping the aggressor. Both Chamberlain and Obama were/are willing to allow the aggressor to move forward in creating a regional hegemony. For both Chamberlain and Obama, a bad peace is better than war—or, a bad deal is better than no deal.
Some historians may argue against such a characterization of Chamberlain just as some would defend Obama. But the two of them certainly appear to be trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole.
Hitler was clear about his goals. Chamberlain ignored that clarity. He just wanted to push his ‘peace for our time’.
For its part, Iran is equally clear about its aggressive goals. Obama ignores that clarity. He wants his ‘peace’.
Obama is the modern Chamberlain. He will get his agreement—no matter what.
Indeed, the US is obsessed with its Chamberlain-style peace. For example, a news report surfaced yesterday during the negotiations that Iran’s military chief remains unrepentant about his goal for Israel. Iranian General Mohammad Raza Nakdi made it clear that eliminating Israel was ‘not negotiable’ in these negotiations (“Iranian Military Chief: We Must Annihilate Israel”, Arutz Sheva, March 31, 2015).
Did you notice how the US reacted? It didn’t. It ignored the comment.
It pressed forward to get its agreement with Iran. It continues to press forward after the deadline.
The US won’t walk away from a demanding Iran. It wants an agreement. It wants a paper it can wave in the air.
That’s why these talks smell of ‘Munich’.

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