The interim agreement negotiated by the Security Council and Germany with Iran is a serious advance toward what Winston Churchill called the Munich agreement: “a total and unmitigated defeat” and a “disaster of the first magnitude.” Nothing in the agreement guarantees that Iran will fulfill its promises, or that inspectors will be allowed access to all of Iran’s enrichment facilities, let alone its secret sites, or that serious consequences will follow violations of the terms of the agreement. The agreement does nothing to force Iran to come clean on, let alone dismantle, all its weapons facilities, or to reverse Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium––indeed, it is arguably a de facto recognition of Iran’s right to do so. In exchange for signing, Iran will gain access to multiple billions of dollars in sanction relief, and 6 more months to spin the centrifuges, confident that sanctions once relaxed are unlikely to be reimposed.
No wonder they are celebrating in Tehran. And for good reason, given how much they will receive and how little they have promised. It reminds me of Churchill’s metaphor in the same speech when he refuted the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s claim that Hitler had been made to “retract.” In fact, Churchill said of the three meetings between Chamberlain and Hitler, “£1 was demanded at the pistol’s point. When it was given, £2 were demanded at the pistol’s point. Finally, the dictator consented to take £1 17s. 6d. and the rest in promises of goodwill for the future.”
So much is obvious, even to many Democrats in Congress, who may join with Republicans to stop this quantum leap towards full-blown appeasement and a nuclear-armed Iran when in 6 months some “comprehensive” appeasing agreement is proffered. What remains to be seen is whether the American people will become as worried over this disaster as they have been angry over Obamacare. Weary of war, and seemingly indifferent to the squandering of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan wrought by Obama’s hasty and feckless withdrawal from those countries, Americans may feel about the Middle East and its complex hatreds and rivalries as Chamberlain did about the crisis in Czechoslovakia–– “a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.”
Such shortsightedness is dangerous not just to our ally Israel. For years Europe––and now it appears America too––has tried to force Israel into the role of Czechoslovakia in the Munich crisis in order to appease Palestinian Arab aggression and violence. In 1938 politicians in France and England were impatient with the Czechs’ desire to maintain their sovereignty and ensure their security against an aggressor on their borders. Every outrageous demand made by Hitler and his stooges in the Sudetenland was met with scolding of the Czechs for their intransigence. The French warned the Czechs not to be “unreasonable,” the British thought they needed “to get a real twist of the screw,” the English minister in Prague advised Czech president Edvard Benes to “go forthwith to the very limit of concession,” English Foreign Minister Lord Halifax told the Czechs that “in the interests of international peace every possible step should be taken to remove the cause of friction or even of conflict,” and both French and English diplomats urged the Czechs to accept the dismemberment of their country “before producing a situation for which France and Britain could take no responsibility.” Faced with a ruthless aggressor, the victim was bullied into committing suicide by its so-called allies.
How similar to the shameless pressure on Israel from the Western powers and the Obama administration. They have scolded and bullied Israel over “settlements” and the so-called “occupation” of lands that were the homeland of the Jewish people for two millennia. They have urged Israeli acquiescence to the specious “two-state solution” and respect for “Palestinian self-determination.” They have pressed negotiations with and concessions to enemies that have made plain in word and bloody deed their goal of “wiping Israel off the map,” as an ex-president of Iran once said, and as every Friday imams across the Muslim Middle East preach to their flocks. Once more Churchill is instructive: “We in this country, as in other Liberal and democratic countries, have a perfect right to exalt the principle of self-determination, but it comes ill out of the mouths of those in totalitarian states who deny even the smallest element of toleration to every section and creed within their bounds.” Yet this current agreement, which de facto concedes to Iran the right to create the weapons that can turn these threats to reality, ignores the true nature of Israel’s intolerant enemies, and the security concerns of the most vulnerable state in the region.
On the contrary, Obama is pressuring Israel to forbear and trust the oft violated and broken promises of a mortal enemy, just as France and England in 1938 ignored Hitler’s threats at the Nuremberg party-rally that no agreements would be reached with an “irreconcilable” enemy. It would be dangerous for Americans sick of this seemingly far-away conflict to buy into this false narrative that blames Israeli “intransigence” and “occupation” over a “Palestinian homeland” for Muslim terrorism and violence that are in fact rooted in Islamic doctrine and evidenced by the record of history.
Worse yet, it would be equally dangerous to think that the comparison of the current appeasement of Iran with Munich is false because we Americans do not face an existential threat from an enemy as militarily powerful as we, or that, to paraphrase Churchill, “nothing vitally affecting us [is] at stake.” If Iran becomes a nuclear power, there will not be a world war like the one that was spawned by Munich and that cost 50 million lives. But we will indeed be vitally affected. The on-going conflicts of Sunni against Shiites, jihadists against autocrats, and everyone against Israel will be intensified and magnified immeasurably by Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons and the regional proliferation to follow––assuming Israel does not strike the facilities and set back the program, with violent and disordering blowback that can only be imagined.
And make no mistake, this violence and disorder will indeed affect our interests and security. We may be nearing energy independence, but in a globalized economy, the rest of the world with whom we trade will still be dependent on Middle Eastern oil, and the disruption to their economies from oil shortages and a shut-down of the straits of Hormuz will affect our own, which is still struggling with unemployment, rising debt, and run-away entitlement spending. Nor should we dismiss as fantastic the possibility that Iran, the world’s foremost supporter of terrorism with 35 years of American blood on its hands, will hand off dirty bombs to one of its many jihadist affiliates for attacks on our homeland. Who on September 10, 2001 believed that terrorists armed with box-cutters would level the World Trade Center? Total war will not follow from Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons, but an insidious degradation of our security will, until another terrorist attacks breeds more war, more compromises of our individual freedoms, more erosion of our morale and will, and more appeasement, the consequences of which will be borne by our children and grandchildren.
Finally, this deal signals once again that under Obama America is now considered weak and cowardly, uninterested in acting on the global responsibilities that necessarily have attended its unprecedented wealth and power, and eager for retreat and withdrawal no matter how dangerous the long-term consequences. Here too we resemble the British as Churchill described them in his Munich speech: “We have been reduced in those five years [since Hitler’s rise to power] from a position of security so overwhelming and so unchallengeable that we never cared to think about it. We have been reduced from a position where the very word ‘war’ was considered one which could be used only by persons qualifying for a lunatic asylum. We have been reduced from a position of safety and power––power to do good, power to be generous to a beaten foe, power to make terms with Germany, power to give her proper redress for her grievances, power to stop her arming if we chose, power to take any step in strength or mercy or justice which we thought right––reduced in five years from a position safe and unchallenged to where we stand now.” All diplomacy and negotiation with our foes depends on their belief that we back our agreements with punishing force. Today both our friends and enemies no longer believe that we have the will or courage to back our words with deeds.
Only the American people can stop the unfolding disaster of the agreement with Iran, and only by the means Churchill recommended to his countrymen: with “a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”
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