The Teacher of Fools

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In Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, an Athenian ambassador refutes the Spartans’ claim that they are going to war with Athens on the principle of justice: “Calculations of interest have made you take up the cry of justice––a consideration which no one ever yet brought forward to hinder his ambition when he had a chance of gaining anything by might.” Thucydides presents here a permanent truth of interstate conflict: when force will not get a people what they want, they will often cloak their ambitions in lofty principles like justice in order to gain sympathy, buy time, and win allies.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is a textbook example of Thucydides’ insight. Only after three attempts to destroy Israel by force failed did we begin to hear about the “justice” of a “Palestinian homeland” and “national self-determination.” The Arabs, moreover, cast the conflict not in terms of their own Islamic ideology and ideals, in which the ummah, the global community of Muslims, is the primary locus of Muslim identity. Rather, they appeal to the Western idea of nationalism, something sure to find sympathy among Europeans and Americans who are already inclined to disfavor Israel because of short-sighted geopolitical realism, leftist hatred of a liberal-democratic American ally, or post-Holocaust stealth anti-Semitism.

Yet this tactic of appealing to the enemy’s ideals of justice to cloak one’s true aims is not original to Israel’s enemies. Adolf Hitler used it brilliantly in the Thirties to mask his grand ambition to create a racial German empire. The first step in achieving this goal was to undo the Versailles Treaty’s eastern settlement, which had stranded about 10 million ethnic Germans outside of Germany. Hitler, of course, concealed his real reason for the assault against Czechoslovakia in 1938, which was to gain control over the mountainous Sudetenland and its state-of-the-art defensive fortifications, a formidable barrier to his eastward expansion and the acquisition of lebensraum. Rather, he cast the issue as one of national and ethnic self-determination for the Sudeten Germans, necessary because of the Czechs’ “brutal treatment of mothers and children of German blood,” as Reichsminister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels put it. This appeal was a brilliant stroke, for the 1919 Versailles Treaty had enshrined the notion of ethnic and national self-determination as the keystone of the postwar international order: “National aspirations,” Woodrow Wilson told Congress in 1918, “must be respected; peoples may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent.” How, then, could it be just for the Sudeten Germans, and the millions of others scattered across Eastern Europe, to continue to be exiled from the German motherland?

This pretext, moreover, dangled before Czechoslovakia’s allies the seductive delusion that if only a settlement could be reached regarding the Sudeten Germans, war with Germany could be avoided. This false hope exploited the unwillingness of England and France to risk war in order to honor their security obligations to Czechoslovakia, in addition giving Hitler more time to undermine the Czechs and build up his war machine. In the meantime, Nazi stooges in Czechoslovakia fomented riots and fabricated incidents of violence against Germans, at the same time they kept escalating their outrageous demands: Hitler’s main puppet in Czechoslovakia, Konrad Henlein, correctly understood his master’s instructions to be “we must always demand so much that we cannot be satisfied.” The goal was to force the Czechs to break off negotiations and thus justify a German invasion. As we know, Hitler’s strategy succeeded. England and France handed over Czechoslovakia on a platter, and within a year World War II had begun.

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  • jacob

    Let it be clar once and for all that Arabs of any kind will never accept a Jewish
    state in their midst, because to them the Middle East is the same as the
    Mediterranean Sea was to ancient ROME :
    Their Mare Nostrum (Our Sea), in which there was no room for anything but
    Roman ships
    Conversely, there is no room in the Middle East for anything but Arabs, unless
    Infidels accept Dhimmitude and there is the root of the whole conflict…

    Add to it their notion that any land they ever set foot on also belongs to them
    as their stance about SPAIN, (to them EL ANDALUS) and now, go figure…

    They will keep on manoevering in the style described in the article above, which
    fits to a "t" to whatb is going on and which such good results it gave HITLER in
    his endeavor against CZECOSLOVAKIA , moreover having as they do, the ear of "statesmen" like OBAMA, his clique and the rest of them refusing to learn
    from history or just plain Judeophobes, no matter how they choose to disguise it

  • courdeleon

    Excellent article! Well done! It has amazed me for years that so many supposedly well educated people are so seemingly so ignorant of so much history and the value that information presents. Now, as a 65 year old history buff who has paid attention to what has gone on in the world, I am even more amazed at what an incredible level of foolishness that emanates from people who we have been told unendingly by the media are “brilliant”.

    Then again, perhaps to the media they really are brilliant. After all, if everyone you associate with is a bunch of head nodding elitists living in an echo chamber of self congratulations, with has a moron’s IQ, then below average intelligence is “brilliant”.

  • Michael

    The history repeats itself:the same fools and monsters.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Indeed, the Palestinian people were created in Moscow by the Soviet KGB as a disinformation campaign to cloak the Islamic world’s perpetual genocidal jihad being waged against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel as a struggle for the inalienable national right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, when the reality is the so-called Palestinian people, created out of whole cloth by the Soviet KGB for this purpose, are in reality nothing but the proxies of the Islamic world with their sole allegiances being to Islam and the ummah and their sole purpose being the destruction of Israel.

  • PhillipGaley

    . . . . kind of comical: beside the interesting point in minutiae about the Christians and the Druze, by far away and large, aren't most Arabs, Moslem? Is there, or, is there not, the greatest sympathy and assistance from Arabs generally, toward Moslems, and against Jew? So, "being Arab has exactly nothing whatsoever to do with anything where Israel is concerned."?
    Although as permanent and intractable and implacable tribes, there are the greatest number of conflicts between them, upon the facts of Israel as the sole Western nation there, and as has been said, light years ahead of those other nations—whether Moslem or not, and they are Moslem, whether Arab or no, and, upon the fact of envy against apparent wealth as a permanent factor of affect in the human condition—so, I wonder, are Arabs in any way immune to the same sense of envy and covetousness which is in affect in Moslamia in general?
    I kind of think rather that, the exception which might be carved out for a few Arabs as opposed to Moslems is so small as may be of academic interest, only, . . .

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Is there, or, is there not, the greatest sympathy and assistance from Arabs generally, toward Moslems, and against Jew?

      Only if those Arabs happen to be Muslims themselves, otherwise if those Arabs happen to be something else, other than Muslim, then they don’t have a problem with Jews. Of course, like Jews, they also are the targets of Muslims, and if they happen to live in a Muslim country, well they are violently oppressed and systematically persecuted when not outright slaughtered altogether. Same thing goes for Persians, Pakistanis, and Afghanis, whatever.

      and they are Moslem, whether Arab or no, and, upon the fact of envy against apparent wealth as a permanent factor of affect in the human condition—so, I wonder, are Arabs in any way immune to the same sense of envy and covetousness which is in affect in Moslamia in general?

      Muslims don’t hate unbelievers because of envy or because of what unbelievers do or do not do. They hate unbelievers simply because they are obligated to have nothing but enmity in their hearts for unbelievers. Hence, no matter what unbelievers do or do not do, they will turn it around and use it to incite hatred and violence against unbelievers regardless.

      Meanwhile, the West like unhinged fools is obsessed by the fact that the Islamic world hates our ever-loving unbelieving guts because the West projects its own Western sentiments onto Muslims. Hell, Europe blames Muslim’s hate for unbelievers on Jews, Israel, and the USA while delusional self-hating leftists in the USA and Ron Paul kooks claim it is because of America’s support for Israel and also because America is a bully.

      I kind of think rather that, the exception which might be carved out for a few Arabs as opposed to Moslems is so small as may be of academic interest, only, . . .

      Actually all Persians that happen to be Muslims, all Pakistanis that happen to be Muslims, all Afghanis that happen to be Muslims, all Americans that stupidly converted to Islam and happen to be Muslims hate Jewish unbelievers, exactly like they also hate all unbelievers per the texts and tenets of Islam.

  • Catmann

    The idea of a peace accord with the Palestinians is the triumph of naivety over experience.

  • kblink45

    Brilliant analysis, Mr. Thornton. The only distinction that should be made between the Nazis and Islamists is that the former were not religious zealots. Hitler was, notwithstanding, an admirer of Mohammed. Islam was from the outset a militant ideology, a complex rationale for war cloaked in religiosity.

    • ajnn

      There was a 'religious element' to Nazi ideology. It had pagan roots and was hostile to Christianiy.

      • Rifleman

        Yep, many forget that, and socialists often do on purpose.

  • FelixPrismus

    This is one of the best articles I have ever read outlining the Middle Eastern conflict. You can bet I'm sharing this with every person of interest I know.

  • ajnn

    Interestingly, people from Lebanon and Syria living in the Un ited States often deny that they are Arabs. Instead identifying themselves as "Christians".

    • autdrew

      The ones I have known have said the same to me. Unfortunately, they also didnt like Jews or Israel. It was explained as part of the dhimmi mindset. If I am badly treated I then take it out on others who are treated worse than I. They cant get away with fighting back against the muslims who mistreated them so they treat Jews with contempt because they can. It is also a way of identifying with the abuser, "Im not so bad, look, I hate Jews too, kill them, not my community" kind of thing. Sad, sad, sad. They were the ones sympathizing with the "Palestinians"

  • WilliamJamesWard

    I do hope that when all is said and done and the Islamists have made
    their final moves, following in Hitlers footsteps he should keep a light
    on for them, Hell may be very dark……………………………..William

  • Dispozovdaburka

    Obama's speech to the Polish people about how the "Arab Spring"
    is similar to the "Polish Spring,"
    is another huge lie and illusion.
    It's just another step to deligitimize the right of Israel to secure her borders.
    Guess his reading of Reagan's Autobiography is paying off for him that and other fine book
    The Post American World, by Fareed Zakaria.

  • Cynic


    Ironically though those Brazilians of Syrian and Lebanese extraction, though Chritians, take the side of the Palestinians and the PLO even though the Arafat and his PLO slaughtered Lebanese Christians, e.g. town of Damour, in the thousands during the “civil” war in the 1970s.

  • careyrowland

    Thank you, Mr. Thornton, for providing this timely analysis of the Czech/Sudetan situation in the 1930s. What you present is consistent with other historical reports that I have found recently while researching the year 1937 for a novel I am writing. Projection of those diabolical forces that contended with civilization seven decades ago into our present situation is little trickier. The O_Yomama person who links Palestinian issues with the KGB, for instance, should provide some citational evidence for that outlandish theory. The anti-Israel positions of both Islamic houses are, however, more obvious.

  • sportske vesti

    Brilliant analysis, Mr. Thornton. The alone acumen that should be fabricated amid the Nazis and Islamists is that the above were not religious zealots. Hitler was, notwithstanding, an adherent of Mohammed. Islam was from the alpha a active ideology, a circuitous account for war buried in religiosity.