Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Germans who like Bush...

Commeonsensical has asked for me to post an article he has sent about Germans and their definition of appeasement, so I will acquiesce. However, this idea of appeasement sounds more like Truman's containment policy, and hardly an act of "cowardice", as I will opine in the comments. History is a funny thing.

Comonsensical offers:
Matthias Dapfner, Chief Executive of the huge German publisher Axel Springer AG, has written a blistering attack in DIE WELT, Germany's largest daily newspaper, against the timid reaction of Europe in the face of the Islamic threat.
(Commentary by Mathias Dapfner CEO, Axel Springer, AG)
"A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe - your family name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because it's so terribly true.
Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless agreements.
Appeasement legitimized and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union, then East Germany, then all the rest of Eastern Europe where for decades, inhuman, suppressive, murderous governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities.
Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and even though we had absolute proof of ongoing mass-murder, we Europeans debated and debated and debated, and were still debating when finally the Americans had to come from halfway around the world, into Europe yet again, and do our work for us.
Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians.
Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, has the gall to issue bad grades to George Bush... Even as it is uncovered that the loudest critics of the American action in Iraq made illicit billions, no, TENS of billions, in the corrupt U. N. Oil-for-Food program.
And now we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement... How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere? By suggesting that we really should have a "Muslim Holiday" in Germany.
I wish I were joking, but I am not. A substantial fraction of our (German) Government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German people, actually believe that creating an Official State "Muslim Holiday" will somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists.
One cannot help but recall Britain's Neville Chamberlain waving the laughable treaty signed by Adolf Hitler, and declaring European "Peace in our time".
What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies, and intent upon Western Civilization's utter destruction.
It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century - a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is actually spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness.
Only two recent American Presidents had the courage needed for anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush.
His American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, freeing half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Blair, acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War against democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.
In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society's values and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China.
On the contrary - we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those "arrogant Americans", as the World Champions of "tolerance", which even (Germany's Interior Minister) Otto Schily justifiably criticizes. Why? Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass.
For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy - because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes what is at stake - literally everything.
While we criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social Welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive! We'd rather discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our 4 weeks of paid vacation... Or listen to TV pastors preach about the need to "reach out to terrorists. To understand and forgive".
These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically hides her last pieces of jewelry when she notices a robber breaking into a neighbor's house.
Appeasement? Europe, thy name is Cowardice
--from Commonsensical


Grodge said...

"Appeasement", hardly; try "Containment"
CS has offered the tired comparison of Saddam’s Iraq to Hitler’s Germany, a comparison first broached by Condoleezza Rice before the fated assault on Baghdad. The truth is that there was no valid comparison, and as the subsequent lack of WMD’s has shown, there is no comparison now. Geoffrey Nunberg has a great (short) piece on the history of appeasement: www-csli.stanford.edu/~nunberg/appeasement.html (read the second half twice, it’s worth it.)

If you must give an anlogy of Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler, then 1991 Iraq would be more appropriate. Kuwait was SH’s Sudetenland, and he got his ass booted back to Baghdad by a true coalition, including Arab, European and Asian allies with the cost to the US minimal in both diplomatic capital and financial expense. Nobody in the US or Europe has ever voted for or seriously advocated appeasement of SH, in fact just the opposite. He had been tightly enclosed in a box for over 12 years, posing no threat to us or our allies. The better analogy for the successful management of SH since 1991 is “Containment” as first offered by Truman in 1949 in relationship to Stalinist USSR, only saddam's containment had been even better.

As far as Reagan singlehandedly “ending the Cold War”, I’ve growing tired of this mythology as well. Containment of the USSR ensued for the better part of the 50 years under both Democratic and Republican administrations, and mainly Democratic Congresses. Reagan’s policies were no more or less destructive toward the Soviet Union than those of Truman, Ike, Kennedy, et al: all men who had to deal with the forboding likes of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev, rather than the more sensible Gorbachev of Reagan’s era. And Gorbachev was rendered sensible by the decades of Soviet despair made real by decades of containment. Through economic, diplomatic and military containment, the USSR eventually gave birth to the reasonable Gorbachev who conceded that the system of the West had its merits. According to Lou Cannon’s favorable biography, Reagan’s affability rather than his threats is what finally turned the tide with Gorbachev.

Look at what we have now: a quagmire in Iraq when containment was working well. This has now opened the floodgates of radical Islam that the US must deal with alone. If I were a European voter, taxpayer, soldier or father of young boys, I would also be against any involvement of my country in this unnecessary and costly conflagration. The US has decided to (ineptly) drain the Iraqi swamp for free, against Europe’s heartfelt urging, and now the US will suffer the consequences alone. As an American, I am enraged at the magnitude of the missteps by my president. We are not safer than before March 2003. We are alone in a costly occupation with no end in sight (Britain hardly counts-- their few thousand soldiers are not in forward positions, and would correlate to only 80,000 US troops based on population proportions.) We have squandered the goodwill of the world, our national treasury and countless military and innocent lives when most of the world pleaded for our restraint. And perhaps worst of all, the French and Germans were proven correct, and we were proven wrong.

Pre-emptive aggression, as manifest in our current Iraq policy, is fraught with innumerable and unknowable potential disasters, many of which we are experiencing now firsthand. George W. Bush has said that war should be the last resort, but his actions have not been consistent with that prudent dictum. Nearly every prediction about Iraq by our administration since November 2002 has been proven incorrect, and even if you may not know this, most of the world does. No CS, I do not agree with this analogy of Hitler and SH, nor with this author’s confusion about appeasement and containment. It is patently untrue, like almost all of the jingoist and fear-based rhetoric spewed forth by our president and his staff since 9-11. I truly understand that others can have opposing opinions to mine, but I am at a total loss as to how any thoughtful American can believe that the Iraq war has been conducted on principles consistent with our national welfare as primary beneficiary. And I am at a total loss as to how any student of history can compare the fascist-miltary Leviathan of Hitler’s 1939 Germany with the broken, sanctioned (ie, “contained”) and failed regime of Hussein’s 2003 Iraq. I cannot help but think that 50.8% of the US population has been played, plain and simple, by the fear mongers of the president.

Grodge said...

Morality is for individuals, not for governments. I believe that this is a fundamental conception that so-called neo-conservatives have lost. Mr. Dapfner claims that Bush acted on “moral conviction”, which, according to true conservative politics, would be an abrogation of his duty as chief of state. Personally, I do not believe that Mr. Bush was acting on his personal moral conviction, rather, the Baghdad debacle represents classic “mission creep”, whereby the lack of WMD has morphed the official rationale of the war into a war for “freedom” utilizing vacuous rhetoric that has no relation to reality or our national interest.

This author has no concept of the purpose of representative government as conceived by true conservatives like Edmund Burke, John Locke, John Adams, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The national self-interest is of paramount importance, not the “moral conviction” of the president. I’ll repeat this so you do not miss it: the national self-interest is of paramount importance, not the “moral conviction” of the president.* (Mr. Dapfner confuses national self-interest with “cowardice” and “materialism” on the part of the Europeans.) Bush had the rationale correct in February 2003, but changed the rationale after WMD’s were lacking. If the US were truly planning to run around the globe righting all the wrongs of the world, why would we have started with Iraq and not, say, Cuba?

Mr. Bush may have gotten away with his departure from conservatism if not for his other major miscalculations throughout this war and their continuing ramifications: The lack of security after the fall of Baghdad has snowballed into discontent and near chaos. The inability to capture bin Laden has elevated him to immortal god-like status thus aiding with al Qaeda recruitment. The small US-led coalition has stimulated anti-imperialistic sentiment throughout the Muslim world, thus increasing the insurgency’s power. Increasing instability has moved Iraq closer to a civil war, which has several material effects: 1) increased oil prices which is worse than a tax on the US economy, 2) “nation-building” by the US military which limits our response to real threats such as Iran and North Korea, 3) rising US budget deficits which eventually will affect the US economy (the Iraq War has already cost half of the entire Vietnam War expenditures in 2005 dollars.)

Political theory as presented in Plato’s Republic, Hobbes’ Leviathan or the writings of Edmund Burke would provide a complete foundation in governmental principles. Bush is not conservative by any means. I know I keep saying this, CS, but you must not be listening. At the risk of being condescending, I would recommend reading (rather than Mr. Dapfner's delusional tirades)Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind: from Burke to Elliot, which seems like it would provide an essential start to understanding your chosen political philosophy. I have not read this book (I intend to) but have read many of the classic writers in the Table of Contents way back when I fell in love with conservatism. These thinkers’ ideas are not too nuanced as to be lost on anyone: conservative government has very clear principles, and Bush is not following them. Period. I’ll order it and you can borrow it when I’m finished; but in the meantime please stop injecting this misguided blather about “morality” into our discussion of conservative politics.

One more time: The national self-interest is of paramount importance, not the “moral conviction” of the president.