Friday, November 02, 2007

Yeah, Europe, Don't Appease The Aggresor

By Cernig

Ramesh Thakur, Professor of Political Science at Canada's University of Waterloo, has an interesting counter to Bush's latest symptom of derangement syndrome.
how accurate was the analogy of appeasement? The lesson of Munich in 1938 for the major powers (Britain and France) was that you do not buy peace with fellow major powers tomorrow by giving in to their demands today. This merely whets their appetite. They live by the sword, and shall perish only by the sword. Better therefore to confront them, including risking going to war if necessary, at a time and place of your choosing before they become fully armed. But most countries of the world are not major powers and the lesson for smaller powers was different. Faced with the prospect of war with a major power, your allies and guarantors will sell you out rather than risk a war. Thus the motor of appeasement was the wish to avoid war at any cost.

The same logic has led to repeated efforts to appease the US appetite for war, with results no more promising than history's big lessons. The party threatening to go to war in 2003 was the US, not Iraq. Saddam Hussein had been quite successfully contained. His regime was weak and isolated. He had been defanged and disarmed through international coercion and UN inspections. These could have been toughened still more, with the right to any-time-any-place search and investigation, without having to wage war to unseat him.

...Take out a map of the world. Free yourself of all preconceptions. Put green coloured pins for Iran's military forces stationed, based or in any form deployed outside its territory. Now place blue coloured pins for US military forces stationed or deployed outside the United States, including -- indeed especially -- in the Middle East and Central Asia, the energy heartland of the world. Then think through the implications of this.

...Since the end of the Second World War, has Iran or the US been the more belligerent and aggressive in its foreign policy? Which country promulgated the doctrine that no other country must be allowed to acquire the capacity to defend itself even in its own region against the one and only superpower? Excuse me?

The European backing for "tough" American policy towards Iran suggests, therefore, that the age-old instinct for appeasing the predatory propensity of the great and powerful -- another abiding lesson of history -- is alive and well. By the standards of great power behaviour throughout history and occasional lapses notwithstanding, the US was exceptional as an essentially benevolent hegemon from 1945 until the advent of this administration. Maybe it will revert to being a benign hegemon with a change of administration in January 2009. In the meantime, we cannot fault other countries for taking to heart the old national security adage about hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
It's certainly the case that even the European nations which objected to Bush's Iraqi misadventure made no effort to sanction his regime in any way for its unwarranted pre-meditated aggression. Some, like Blair's government, wholeheartedly went Vichy. Appeasement, it seems, is alive and well in Europe's corridors of power.

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