Last week, Obama howled that the President had him in mind when addressing the Knesset on the subject of “appeasement” and then proceeded to place appeasement (or rather his willingness to meet with enemies without preconditions) as the centerpiece of his foreign policy.
What Obama seems to be unaware of is that his willingness to meet with parties that have already indicated pernicious aggressiveness is also a signal of weakness or defect (less like a poker player’s “tell” and more like a blast from a foghorn). In this, Obama (like Kerry, Carter, and others before him) displays a kind of sissified naïveté at best and a pathological blindness to evil at worst.
There is an article today in The American Spectator (“Seeing Evil: The Arms of John McCain”, by Jeffrey Lord) that delves into this issue with Churchill/Chamberlain/Baldwin as a template to understanding our present situation. What follows is an interesting excerpt that captures the general feel of the article. And, BTW, if you read nothing else this week, please read this article. It reminds us that there is, among other currents of statecraft, a “canine-like” interaction between nations. This is a world of established order among aggressors. There is an “alpha male/female” and he/she is regularly tested by the other dogs.
I have learned from watching “The Dog Whisperer” (Cesar Milan) that this is how ordered is maintained in the pack. And, I have learned from reading Churchill that the same holds true among nations.
First, the definition of “to appease” as provided by The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary: “to appease is to make anxious overtures and often undue concessions to satisfy someone’s demands.” Webster’s also suggests appeasement is “to yield to the demands of in conciliatory effort, sometimes at the expense of one’s principles.”
There were any number of precise reasons why Winston Churchill believed Chamberlain and his predecessor were guilty of appeasement. He was, for example, appalled at the reluctance to fund British military preparedness. This is the 1930s British version of modern Democrats in America opposing the Reagan-era buildup or refusing funding for today’s troops in Iraq. Indeed, the struggle between Churchill and his foes Baldwin and Chamberlain suggests nothing more than what has become a seemingly eternal struggle between a Reagan, either Bush or a McCain versus a Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry or Obama.
To cite but one specific example, Churchill thought his opponents derelict in funding the Royal Air Force (RAF). Churchill warned Baldwin in 1934, barely a year after Hitler had come to power, that “the Germans had a secret Air Force and were rapidly overhauling ours.” He presented Baldwin with “definite figures and forecasts.” All of which Baldwin “denied with all the weight of official authority,” depicting Churchill as a “scaremonger,” very much as Senator Obama today charges both President Bush and Senator McCain with trying to instill fear in the American people. Over and over Churchill hit Chamberlain and Baldwin over their refusal to allocate sufficient funds to rebuild the RAF. He thought the specific lack of funding was not only dangerous in the sense of leaving Britain militarily unprepared for war, but that the refusal to aggressively follow a preparedness doctrine sent a message of weakness to Hitler. As Chamberlain and Baldwin stubbornly clung to their anxious hopes of not doing anything to antagonize Hitler, Churchill ridiculed their defense budgets and public statements not simply as conciliatory but rather as “acts of submission,” castigating Chamberlain for his lack of “judgment.”