Appeasement in Our Time

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The differences between the Munich Agreement of Sept 29, 1938, and the Vienna Agreement of July 14, 2015, are considerable. But the result is likely to be the same.

At Munich, Britain and France agreed to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in exchange for Adolf Hitler’s promise that the Sudetenland would be his last territorial demand.

On their return from Munich, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Premier Eduoard Daladier were greeted by cheering crowds. Their responses to the adulation they received were different.

“My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British prime minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor,” Chamberlain said, waving the treaty document triumphantly. “I believe it is peace for our time.”

When the crowd in Paris hailed him, Daladier said to an aide: “Ah, les cons (the fools).”

Daladier had no illusions about Hitler. The German dictator intended to secure “a domination of the continent in comparison with which the ambitions of Napoleon were feeble.” But for the sake of British-French unity, he acquiesced in Chamberlain’s insistence that Hitler be appeased.

“We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat,” said Winston Churchill.

World War II began 11 months later. We learned after the war that Gen. Ludwig Beck, chief of the German General Staff, was preparing to overthrow Hitler if Britain and France had resisted the dictator’s demands.

An agreement was made in Vienna Tuesday only because the Obama administration capitulated to every demand made by Iran.

“It’s a deal worse than even we imagined possible,” wrote Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol. “It’s a deal that gives the Iranian regime $140 billion in return for ... effectively nothing: no dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program, no anytime/​anywhere inspections, no curbs on Iran’s ballistic missile program, no maintenance of the arms embargo, no halt to Iran’s sponsorship of terror.”

Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations: “Having started negotiations with the goal of ending Iran’s nuclear program, the U.S. and its European negotiating partners are winding up legitimating Iran’s status as a nuclear power in waiting.”

Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute: “On top of refraining from penalizing Iran for bad behavior, the U.S. and its partners commit to assist Iran to develop in energy, finance, technology and trade.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.: “This deal sets in place every key component of a nuclear program that Iran needs to develop a weapon.”

The president failed even to get release of the four Americans being held captive by Iran.

Many compare the Vienna agreement to the Munich accord, President Barack Obama to Neville Chamberlain. “If one peruses the pages of The New York Times from mid-September 1938 through the first week of October 1938, it is apparent that what we are witnessing today is a virtual replay of those three weeks – only worse,” wrote Rick Richman of Commentary magazine.

The comparison is unfair — to Chamberlain, “an honorable man who loved his country and just happened to get the greatest issue of the day wrong,” wrote Canadian columnist Mark Steyn. “You can’t say the same about Obama.”

In September 1938, Germany was the world’s foremost military power. By appeasing Hitler, Chamberlain hoped to buy more time for Britain to rearm. Mr. Obama’s capitulation to the mullahs is gratuitous. Iran won’t pose a serious threat to the United States until it acquires the nukes the Vienna deal smooths the way for.

And Chamberlain didn’t have Chamberlain’s example from which to profit. (Before Munich, diplomats thought appeasement was a good thing.) Those who hail the Iran agreement as “historic” evidently pay little attention to the lessons history teaches.

“You were given a choice between war and dishonor,” Churchill said of Chamberlain. “You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”

For reasons unfathomable, Barack Obama has made the same choice. This time, the war will be nuclear. 

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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