Posts Tagged ‘Chamberlain’

Looming War In Eastern Europe: Deja Vu All Over Again

August 15, 2008

For the historically literate, the picture of Eastern Europe today is disturbingly reminiscent of the view circa 1939. That was the year that Nazi Germany – having provided pseudo-justifications based on staged provocations – invaded first Czechoslovakia and then Poland. Throughout the entire period leading up to these military invasions, the Western world weakly stood by and did nothing but “dialogue.”

As hundreds of Russian tanks poured into his country, CNN reporter Susan Malveaux asked Georgian President Saakashvili:

MALVEAUX: Have you reached out to them? Do you feel there’s any room for negotiation or at least to begin a dialogue or discussions?

The problem has been that Russia has done its “negotiating” with tanks.

The UK Telgraph runs a story by Josh Bolton the editors titled, “The US fiddled while Georgia burned.” And this is undoubtedly true (as Bolton himself acknowledges). But at least the US’ “fiddling” involved doing something (in the sense of trying to get Georgia admitted to NATO, which would have circumvented this entire sad affair). Europe stood by and did absolutely nothing while Georgia burned.  And the so-called “cease fire agreement” that France proffered essentially allows Russia to remain in Georgian territory for as long as they like.  Many believe that the presence of Russian forces only a few miles from the Georgian capital is a naked attempt to topple the democratic government.

Just as with Iraq, European intransigence to sound diplomatic policy led to war. By refusing to accept the United States’ demand to require meaningful weapons inspections on Iraq, the U.N. in general and France and Russia in particular took every option but open war off the table for America. And by refusing to allow the U.S.-backed Georgian bid to join NATO, our European “allies” left a democratic and pro-Western former Soviet State vulnerable to precisely the sort of attack that totalitarian Russia launched.

Josh Bolton describes the European diplomatic initiative in shades of the infamous Munich Agreement:

The European Union took the lead in diplomacy, with results approaching Neville Chamberlain’s moment in the spotlight at Munich: a ceasefire that failed to mention Georgia’s territorial integrity, and that all but gave Russia permission to continue its military operations as a “peacekeeping” force anywhere in Georgia. More troubling, over the long term, was that the EU saw its task as being mediator – its favourite role in the world – between Georgia and Russia, rather than an advocate for the victim of aggression.

After Neville Chamberlain returned from signing the infamous agreement with Hitler, and appeasing an evil tyrant in the name of “peace in our time,” an embittered Winston Churchill observed:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

Josh Bolton believes that “the extent of the wreckage [of Georgia] reaches far beyond that small country.” He goes on to write:

The West, collectively, failed in this crisis. Georgia wasted its dime making that famous 3am telephone call to the White House, the one Hillary Clinton referred to in a campaign ad questioning Barack Obama’s fitness for the Presidency. Moreover, the blood on the Bear’s claws did not go unobserved in other states that were once part of the Soviet Union. Russia demonstrated unambiguously that it could have marched directly to Tbilisi and installed a puppet government before any Western leader was able to turn away from the Olympic Games. It could, presumably, do the same to them.

Fear was one reaction Russia wanted to provoke, and fear it has achieved, not just in the “Near Abroad” but in the capitals of Western Europe as well. But its main objective was hegemony, a hegemony it demonstrated by pledging to reconstruct Tskhinvali, the capital of its once and no-longer-future possession, South Ossetia. The contrast is stark: a real demonstration of using sticks and carrots, the kind that American and European diplomats only talk about. Moreover, Russia is now within an eyelash of dominating the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the only route out of the Caspian Sea region not now controlled by either Russia or Iran. Losing this would be dramatically unhelpful if we hope for continued reductions in global petroleum prices, and energy independence from unfriendly, or potentially unfriendly, states.

It profits us little to blame Georgia for “provoking” the Russian attack. Nor is it becoming of the United States to have anonymous officials from its State Department telling reporters, as they did earlier this week, that they had warned Georgia not to provoke Russia. This confrontation is not about who violated the Marquess of Queensbury rules in South Ossetia, where ethnic violence has been a fact of life since the break-up of the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991 – and, indeed, long before. Instead, we are facing the much larger issue of how Russia plans to behave in international affairs for decades to come. Whether Mikhail Saakashvili “provoked” the Russians on August 8, or September 8, or whenever, this rape was well-planned and clearly coming, given Georgia’s manifest unwillingness to be “Finlandized” – the Cold War term for effectively losing your foreign-policy independence.

And now we are already beginning to see not only “how Russia plans to behave in international affairs for decades to come”, but right in the here and now.

In a statement about Poland that ought to send shivers up the spine of any thinking human being, a top Russian general added to the rhetoric of President Dmitry Medveded:

Only 24 hours after the weapons agreement was signed Russia’s deputy chief of staff warned Poland “is exposing itself to a strike 100 per cent”.

General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said that any new US assets in Europe could come under Russian nuclear attack with his forces targeting “the allies of countries having nuclear weapons”.

He told Russia’s Interfax news agency: “By hosting these, Poland is making itself a target. This is 100 per cent certain. It becomes a target for attack. Such targets are destroyed as a first priority.”

Russia’s nuclear rhetoric marks an intense new phase in the war of words over Georgia. The Caucasus conflict has spiralled into a Cold War style confrontation between Moscow and Washington in less than a week.

The stand off between the two cold War powers was underlined by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who dismissed US claims that the silo is a deterrent against ‘rogue states’ like Iran as “a fairy tale”. He told reporters at the Black Sea resort of Sochi: “The deployment of new missile defence facilities in Europe is aimed against the Russian Federation.”

Poland and a few other former Soviet Republicans who do not want to become future Russian republics are moving toward official relationships with the United States and Western alliances such as NATO. We must stop attempting to appease rogue and tyrant states for the sake of going along to get along in the short term and clearly and strongly back Western-leaning democratic states.

Again, Bolton is right on target:

Europe’s rejection this spring of President Bush’s proposal to start Ukraine and Georgia towards Nato membership was the real provocation to Russia, because it exposed Western weakness and timidity. As long as that perception exists in Moscow, the risk to other former Soviet territories – and in precarious regions such as the Middle East – will remain.

Obviously, not all former Soviet states are as critical to Nato as Ukraine, because of its size and strategic location, or Georgia, because of its importance to our access to the Caspian Basin’s oil and natural gas reserves. Moreover, not all of them meet fundamental Nato prerequisites. But we must now review our relationship with all of them. This, in effect, Nato failed to do after the Orange and Rose Revolutions, leaving us in our present untenable position.

By its actions in Georgia, Russia has made clear that its long-range objective is to fill that “gap” if we do not. That, as Western leaders like to say, is “unacceptable”. Accordingly, we should have a foreign-minister-level meeting of Nato to reverse the spring capitulation at Bucharest, and to decide that Georgia and Ukraine will be Nato’s next members. By drawing the line clearly, we are not provoking Russia, but doing just the opposite: letting them know that aggressive behaviour will result in costs that they will not want to bear, thus stabilising a critical seam between Russia and the West. In effect, we have already done this successfully with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Diplomacy is always worth pursuing. But diplomacy that is not backed with power and the willingness to use it is meaningless, and will always be recognized as such by tyrants and terrorists.

As we look at Russian totalitarian imperialism in Eastern Europe, and contemplate the looming menace of a nuclear-weapons-armed Iran, we must realize that much of the world is in the same mindset that the world was in in 1938. Only by recognizing that we must stand strongly against such developments will we be able to avoid the next catastrophic global harvest of death.

This is as certain as the fact that World War III follows World War II.

The History of Past Appeasement Serves As A Warning For The Future

May 16, 2008

In light of the furor over President Bush’s speech at the Knesset and the Democrat’s response, I thought it appropriate to provide a history of the appeasement that preceded World War II.

Under the terms of the first World War and the subsequent 1925 Locarno Treaty, the Germans were not allowed to militarize the Rhineland. Hitler abolished the agreement in 1935 and began to militarize. Hitler’s tiny army would have been no match for France alone, let alone Britain, and Germany’s generals feared that the two countries would react to oppose them. Germany’s War Minister, Field-Marshall Werner von Blomberg, issued orders that if the allies opposed the re-occupation of the Rhineland, German troops were to withdraw immediately.

There was no opposition from either war-wearied allied country. Hitler was allowed to gain not only an incredibly valuable military advantage, but he also achieved a huge political victory against his cautious generals. He had been right and they wrong in assessing the Allies’ weakness. But most of all, the revelation of the Allies’ shocking display of apathy and weakness would be a huge asset to Hitler over the next three years.

A major part of Hitler’s strategy to reunify Germany as a military power was the Nazi takeover of Austria. Austria had been supported by France, but that support was nowhere to be found when Austria most needed it. Germany staged a coup that, although bloodless, was completely based on genuine intimidation. Hitler essentially declared that if his Nazi movement was not given power in Austria, he would invade the country and impose it by force. The new Nazi Austrian Chancellor’s first act (12 March 1938 ) was to ask for the German army to be sent in “to establish peace and order… and to prevent bloodshed.”

The Allies sat idly by and allowed Germany to increase its power.

In May 1938 Hitler began to prepare to invade to forcibly annex the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. As German divisions began to move in, France and Britain announced that any invasion of Czechoslovakia would be met with a military response, and Hitler backed down. But throughout the summer, the Nazis engineered a series of “incidents” in the Sudetenland which forced a response by the Czech government. Hitler, now able to present his case in terms of the safety and self-determination of the ethic Germans in the Sudetenland, again threatened invasion.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, went to Germany expressing his desire to discuss a peaceful settlement with Hitler. Britain and France informed the Czechoslovakians that they would not go to war over the Sudetenland and so informed Hitler. But Hitler, smelling weakness, said this was no longer enough. After more negotiations, in which Britain and France backed down entirely from their previous positions, Germany was allowed to occupy the strategically important Sudetenland beginning on 1 October 1938 – the day Hitler had fixed as the date he would have invaded should diplomacy fail – in exchange for an agreement from Hitler that this would be “his last territorial demand in Europe.”

Jan Masaryk, the Czech Minister in London, called on British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax on the eve of the Munich Conference and said, “If you are sacrificing my nation to preserve the peace of the world, I will be the first to applaud you. But if not, God help your souls!”

Britain and France had betrayed Czechoslovakia for an empty promise, that Neville Chamberlain naively believed would bring “peace in our time.” Edouard Daladier took a more realistic view: “The fools,” he said bitterly, acknowledging the cheers of the crowds. “If only they knew what they are cheering.”

Poland and Hungary greedily took their share of Czechoslovakian land along with the Nazis in an agreement to cede territories. The land seized from Czechoslovakia had left it strategically exposed to invasion. But when it came time for Czechoslovakia to seek its share in the agreement that had been imposed upon it, they were met with elusive double talk.

It began to become increasingly obvious that the Munich Agreement of 29 September 1939 had not put an end to Hitler’s ambitions. All that the agreement had accomplished was to provide a springboard for further German advances. On 21 October 1938, Hitler issued a directive to his army to prepare for the final liquidation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia. By the end of November, Italy’s fascist dictator Mussolini publicly stated his intent to launch territory-grabbing invasions in North Africa in a speech.

A new and vicious pogrom in Germany caused revulsion. In the “Week of Broken Glass” begining on 9 November 1938, the Nazis encouraged the most brutal excesses of Germans against Jews. A cry of outrage came from the opponents of appeasement, who had criticized Chamberlain from the outset of the Munich Agreement.

During strategic conferences with his generals, Hitler gauged Chamberlain’s naivety and lack of resolve and concluded that Britain would write off Czechoslovakia without war. German generals Field-Marshall Werner von Blomberg, Colonel-General Freiherr von Fritsch, and Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath objected, stating the “need to avoid having Britain and France as enemies.” But Hitler, emboldened by his successes and smelling weakness in the Allies, had already determined to go to war.

The Nazis forced Czechoslovakia to make concession after concession across political, military, and economic fronts. Ultimately, without allies, the Czech government was intimidated into signing a joint declaration which placed the fate of Czechoslovakia into the hands of the Fuhrer. Hitler was the only leader who was willing to fight for what he wanted. The Czech army was disbanded and its equipment taken over by the Wehrmacht, and Bohemia-Moravia was occupied. Hitler exulted, “This is the greatest day of my life! I shall go down as the greatest German in history!”

Even as the Munich Agreement was being signed, Hitler was not only planning the liquidation of Czechoslovakia, but also of Poland. Reich Foreign Minister Ribbentrop presented Poland with an impossible agreement, and then began to exert pressure on Poland to comply.

On 31 March 1939 Neville Chamberlain pronounced the death of his failed policy of negotiation and appeasement when he declared before the House of Commons that Britain had given a guarantee of immediate military support to Poland in the event of any threat to its independence. France already had a similar agreement with Poland which had never lapsed.

After Italy invaded Albania on 6 April 1939, Chamberlain pledged that Britain would fight against future Axis agression. But the French were quick to point out that Britain – which had refused to militarize – lacked the wherewithal to do much fighting. Chamberlain had gone to Germany three times to avoid a military crisis, but had done nothing to prepare his country for the eventuality of one. As an evidence of new British determination, a bill to introduce conscription was presented to Parliament. Despite staunch Labour Party opposition, the bill was passed on 27 April 1939.

In response to the British conscription bill, Hitler – who knew that Britain would not have any significant battleworthy army available throughout 1939 – made some declarations of his own. He renounced the naval accord with Britain, and renounced a 1934 pact with Poland.

William Shirer, an American journalist, wrote in his Berlin Diary, “Still much doubt here among the informed whether Hitler has made up his mind to begin a world war for the sake of Danzig [the region in Poland demanded by the Nazis]. My guess is he hopes to get it by the Munich method.”

In Russia, the Communist dictator Joseph Stalin had made several attempts to form an alliance against German aggression. But all were rejected by Britain and France, who did not trust the Russian and did not want to give Russia the equal status Stalin sought. The Nazis seized their chance. Hitler sent Ribbentrop to negotiate with Stalin, and on 20 August 1939 the Russians – who were seeking their own best interests and who could have been tempted to go either way – signed an agreement with Hitler. As part of their agreement, the two dictators agreed as to how to slice up Poland, whose invasion Hitler had fixed for 26 August.

On 22 August, Hitler summoned his senior Wehrmacht commnanders to brief them on his plans. He noted that as far as Germany’s enemies were concerned, it was providential that the men holding the reins of power were mediocre vacillators. Britain and France were in no position to go to war. The Royal Air Force was only a third of the Lugtwaffe. And it had only five or six divisions to put into the field. And France had neither an adequate army or an economy capable of fielding one. And with the pact with the USSR, Germany would not have to pursue a two-front war.

On 25 August, when Hitler met with British Ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson, he announced his plan to seize Poland, and said that any war between Britain and Germany would be Britain’s fault. The same day, he met with French Ambassador Coulonder and similarly blamed the break in French-German relations on France. It was similar to the thinking of a criminal who blames the police and the victims of his crimes for everything that followed.

On 1 September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. The world war which followed would consume some 72 million human lives.

In President Bush’s speech before the Israeli Knesset, he is clearly describing the mindset of appeasement on the part of the allied powers that led up to World War II. The question is whether he was consciously using this history to denounce Senator Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats.

First, the question seems to be this: was President Bush accurately describing the history of appeasement? Here are his words:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

It seems clear that he is correct in his historic assessment of the Nazis under Hitler, and with his description of Western leaders – whom Hitler described as “mediocre vacillators” – who pursued a policy of appeasement that ultimately served no other purpose than to allow Hitler to build his power even as it gave Allies a false sense of security.

Am I wrong in this assessment? The phrase “hell bent” could have been created to describe Hitler’s ambitions. Did Neville Chamberlain’s three separate meetings with him do anything to change his mind? Did the leaders of France and Britain recognize that they were confronted with genuine evil? did they stand up against that evil and powerfully state that they were prepared to confront it with force? Did they prepare their nations to meet that threat? Did they respond directly as soon as the violent evil that Hitler represented began to manifest itself? No. No. No. And no.

President Bush does something in his speech prior to the paragraph I quote above. He describes the fight against terrorism as “the defining challenge of our time,” as “a clash of visions” against “those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.” And he points out that “this struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is the ancient battle between good and evil.” He describes our enemies as remorseless murderers who “blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder” and “fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers.”

He describes terrorists as evil men who have clearly stated their evil and despicable agendas to the world.

President Bush says, “That is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the “elimination” of Israel. That is why the followers of Hezbollah chant “Death to Israel, Death to America!” That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that “the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties.” And that is why the president of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.”

He could have also mentioned that Iran has announced that it is bent upon attaining its goal of becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, and that American military officials describe that American casualties are increasingly a direct result of Iranian weapons.

And he says, “There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain their words away. This is natural. But it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.”

Is the President right? Have we seen an inability to fathom genuine evil in the past lead to disasterous consequences? Can anyone sustain the argument that Neville Chamberlain fully understood the determination of Hitler to carry out his evil plans unless directly stopped by force?

Let me further say that the President has the recent history lesson learned by his own father, who was President of the United States when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. In spite of the fact that Saddam Hussein massed tens of thousands of troops and military assets on the Kuwait border, and in spite of his own clearly expressed intentions, somehow nobody believed that Saddam Hussein would actually invade (as I substantially document in Part One of my article, “Iraq War Justified“).

Evil is utterly determined to seek its own way. Evil doesn’t care about who gets hurt, or how many die. Evil is an addictive aphrodesiac that demands more and more – and which uses every available means at its disposal to get it – until it is finally stopped by force. The more evil is allowed to grow, the more sacrifice it will ultimately require to overcome it.

The only meaningful check against human evil in the world is force, and the willingness to use it. Appeasement can never satiate the appetite of evil, and any attempt to reason with evil or negotiate with evil – unless backed up with overwhelming power and the willingness to use it – will never succeed against it.

There is also a mystery to evil. Can we understand the mindset of the military junta in Myanmar, which clearly prefers to let tens or even hundreds of thousands of its own people die rather than allow foreign aid workers to enter the country? Can we understand the mind of Kim Jung Il, who allowed two million of his people to die rather than open up his regime?

Can we fathom the thoughts of men such as Osama bin Laden who plotted to kill thousands? And who was able to comprehend the mind of Saddam Hussein, who waged a war against Iran that claimed six million lives, who repeatedly used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, who brutally invaded a fellow Arab state when everything should have necessitated against such an act? is it not a fact that United Nations officials – naively ignorant of Saddam Hussein’s nature – allowed the UN-administered oil for food program to be perverted and corrupted into the largest economic scandal in human history? How do we deal with such men? How do we deal with the evil leaders who will surely rise in the future?

The second question is, if President Bush is in fact indirectly asserting that Barack Obama and Democrats are guilty of the same mindset as Neville Chamberlain, does the allegation have merit?

It is interesting to ask oneself why Barack Obama and the Democrats were so quick to see themselves in President Bush’s words.  But rather than accusing Barack Obama of a mindset that he frankly hasn’t had the chance to exemplify, I would prefer to offer an assessment and a warning.

Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats have attempted to phrase their objection in a frankly misleading manner. The ultimate issue at question isn’t one of “talking to leaders of rogue nations,” but rather one of pursuing a firm policy of being prepared to use whatever force is necessary to keep such leaders in check.

It wasn’t that Neville Chamberlain went to Germany to talk with Hitler that made his very name an object lesson in weakness and appeasement; it was that he went to Hitler as a naive and gullible fool who refused to deal with his adversary from any position of strength until it was far too late.

There is a legitimate argument that states that the best way – short of war – to deal with rogue states bent on evil is to isolate them politically and economically. It is a way of reinforcing that there is a real cost to the country that would use evil and violence in its foreign and domestic policies. While isolation is hardly a perfect strategy, there is no question that it undermines both the foreign policy and economic strength of a regime. The question that those who dismiss this view and insist on engagement with rogue and terrorist nations must answer is, “What is your alternative?”

Iran wants to be recognized as a legitimate force in both the Islamic world and in the greater world. Being recognized by the most powerful country in the world and having direct dialogue with its president is a sign of prestige and respect. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, presidents from both parties have continued to isolate Iran until it abandons its support for terrorism. President George W. Bush has stated that he would hold direct talks with Iran if it abandons its nuclear program. Again, if you don’t want to go to all-out war with Iran, and you don’t want to isolate them, what exactly do you intend to do? In what way do you believe that direct talks with genuinely evil leaders will accomplish any meaningful objective?

Finally, as we come to grips with an Iran that seems determined to become a full-fledged nuclear power, how do we deal with this crisis? How do we prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons? How do we assure Sunni Arab countries that they should not be developing their own nuclear weapons programs to serve as a deterrent against Shiite Iran? Raise your hand if you want to see a nuclear arms race in the craziest region of the world.

According to the available intelligence, Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. What else happened in 2003? The United States invaded its immediate neighbor over weapons of mass destruction. Iran didn’t want to be next on that list.

Going back to the Gulf War in 1991, PBS reports that “In summary, the IAEA report says that following the August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq launched a “crash program” to develop a nuclear weapon quickly by extracting weapons grade material from safe-guarded research reactor fuel. This project, if it had continued uninterrupted by the war, might have succeeded in producing a deliverable weapon by the end of 1992.”

We got lucky in 1991. No one had any idea that Saddam Hussein was so close to a nuclear bomb. And – as much as liberals would never acknowledge it – we may have got lucky again in 2003 by putting a (at least temporary) stop to Iran’s nuclear program. But there is a determination on the part of the Iranians that demands constant vigilance and the willingness to employ force.

Iranian leaders appear determined to develop a nuclear weapons program.

The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said, “Have you not tested the Iranian nation? We will vehemently continue our path and will not allow the oppressors to trample upon the nation’s rights,” Khamenei said. “Our enemies assume that by masterminding economic sanctions they can bring our nations to its knees but to no avail.” [Islamic Republic News Agency].

If we ultimately attack Iran over its continued determination to pursue nuclear weapons, at what point should we do so? Based on what intelligence? And what do we do about countries such as Russia – which has veto power in the United Nations – that are actively selling Iran nuclear technology and expertise?

Should we stand idly by and wait for a consensus from the world? What if that consensus never comes? It sure didn’t come in 1939, and there is no indication whatsoever that it was going to come prior to any meaningful action against Iraq.

Should the United States be willing to “go it alone” if necessary? If so, how do you continue to justify criticism of President Bush for being so willing to invade Iraq?

Whether one meets with Iranian leaders or not, it seems clear that we must pursue a policy that states, “If we believe you are on your way to developing nuclear weapons, we will attack you and overthrow your regime. We were willing to invade Iraq, and you can take it to the bank that we will do the same to you.” And as we try to prevent Sunni states (such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt) from developing their own nuclear weapons arsenals, it is important that we are able to say, “We stood by Iraq against the forces that threatened it, even when it was difficult, and you can count on our promise to stand by you against Iran.

Fighting For Survival Means Fighting For Truth – by Newt Gingrich

May 9, 2008

Sleepwalking Into a Nightmare: Newt Gingrich’s Remarks to a Jewish National Fund Meeting at the Selig Center

“Good evening.

I just want to talk to you from the heart for a few minutes tonight, and share with you where I think we are.

I think it is very stark. I don’t think it is yet desperate, but it is very stark. And if I had a title for tonight’s talk, it would be ‘Sleepwalking Into a Nightmare’, because that’s what I think we’re doing.

I gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute recently, at which I gave an alternative history of the last six years, because the more I thought about how much we’re failing, the more I concluded you couldn’t just nitpick individual places and talk about individual changes because it didn’t capture the scale of the disaster. And I had been particularly impressed by a new book that came out called ‘Troublesome Young Men’, which is a study of the younger Conservatives who opposed appeasement in the 1930s and who took on Chamberlain. It’s a very revealing book and a very powerful book because we tend to look backwards and we tend to overstate Churchill’s role in that period. And we tend to understate what a serious and conscientious and thoughtful effort appeasement was and that it was the direct and deliberate policy of very powerful and very willful people. We tend to think of it as a psychological weakness as though Chamberlain was somehow craven. He wasn’t craven. Chamberlain had a very clear vision of the World, and he was very ruthless domestically.

And they believed so deeply in avoiding war with Germany that as late as the spring of 1940, when they are six months or seven months into the war, they are dropping leaflets instead of bombs on the Rohr, and they are urging the British news media not to publish anti-German stories because they don’t want to offend the German people. And you read this book, and it makes you want to weep because, interestingly, the younger Tories who were most opposed to appeasement were the combat veterans of World War I, who had lost all of their friends in the war but who understood that the failure of appeasement would result in a worse war and that the longer you lied about reality, the greater the disaster.

And they were severely punished and isolated by Chamberlain and the Conservative machine, and as I read that, I realized that that’s really where we are today. Our current problem is tragic. You have an administration whose policy is inadequate being opposed by a political Left whose policy is worse, and you have nobody prepared to talk about the policy we need. Because we are told, ‘if you are for a strong America, you should back the Bush policy even if it’s inadequate’, and so you end up making an argument in favor of something that can’t work. So your choice is to defend something which isn’t working, or to oppose it by being for an even weaker policy. And this is a catastrophe for this country, and a catastrophe for freedom around the world. Because we have refused to be honest about the scale of the problem.

Let me work backwards. I’m going to get to Iran, since that’s the topic, but I’m going to get to it eventually.

Let me work back from Pakistan. The dictatorship in Pakistan has never had control over Waziristan. Not for a single day. So we’ve now spent six years since 9/11 with a sanctuary for Al-Qaida, and a sanctuary for the Taliban, and every time we pick up people in Great Britain who are terrorists, they were trained in Pakistan.

And our answer is to praise Musharraf, because at least he’s not as bad as the others. But the truth is Musharraf has not gotten control of terrorism in Pakistan. Musharraf doesn’t have full control over his own government. The odds are even money we’re going to drift into a disastrous dictatorship at some point in Pakistan. And while we worry about the Iranians acquiring a nuclear weapon, the Pakistanis already have them. So why would you feel secure in a world where you could presently have an Islamist dictatorship in Pakistan with a hundred-plus nuclear weapons? What’s our grand strategy for that?

Then you look at Afghanistan. Here’s a country that’s small, poor, isolated, and in six years we have not been able to build roads, create economic opportunity, wean people off of growing drugs. A third of the Afghani GDP is from drugs. We haven’t been able to end the sanctuary for the Taliban in Pakistan. And I know of no case historically where you defeat a guerrilla movement if it has a sanctuary. So the people who rely on the West are out bribed by the criminals, outgunned by the criminals, and faced with a militant force across the border which practiced earlier defeating the Soviet empire and which has a time horizon of three or four generations. NATO has a time horizon of each quarter or at best a year, facing an opponent whose time horizon is literally three or four generations. It’s a total mismatch.

Then you come to the direct threat to the United States, which is al-Qaeda. About which, by the way, we just published polls. One of the sites I commend to you is AmericanSolutions.com. Last Wednesday we posted six national surveys, $428,000 worth of data. We gave it away. I found myself in the unique position of calling Howard Dean to tell him I was giving him $400,000 worth of polling. We have given it away to Democrats and Republicans alike. It is fundamentally different from the national news media. When asked the question “Do we have an obligation to defend the United States and her allies?” the answer is 85 percent yes. When asked a further question “Should we defeat our enemies?” – it’s very strong language – the answer is 75 percent yes.

So the complaint about Iraq is a performance complaint, not a values complaint.

When asked whether or not al-Qaeda is a threat, 89 percent of the country says yes. And they think you have to defeat it, you can’t negotiate with it. So now let’s look at al-Qaeda and the rise of Islamist terrorism. And let’s be honest: What’s the primary source of money for al-Qaeda? It’s you, re-circulated through Saudi Arabia. Because we have no national energy strategy, when clearly if you really cared about liberating the United States from the Middle East and if you really cared about the survival of Israel, one of your highest goals would be to move to a hydrogen economy, and to eliminate petroleum as a primary source of energy

Now that’s what a serious national strategy would look like, but that would require an actual change.

So then you look at Saudi Arabia. The fact that we tolerate a country saying no Christian and no Jew can go to Mecca, and we start with the presumption that that’s true, while they attack Israel for being a religious state, is a sign of our timidity, our confusion, our cowardice, that is stunning.

It’s not complicated. We invited Saudi Arabia to come to Annapolis to talk about rights for Palestinians when nobody said, “Let’s talk about rights for Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabia. Let’s talk about rights for women in Saudi Arabia.”

So we accept this totally one-sided definition of the world, in which our enemies can cheerfully lie on television every day, and we don’t even have the nerve to insist on the truth. We pretend their lies are reasonable. This is a very fundamental problem. And if you look at who some of the largest owners of some of our largest banks are today … they’re Saudis.

You keep pumping billions of dollars a year into countries like Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and Russia, and you are presently going to have created people who oppose you, who have lots of money. And they’re then going to come back to your own country and finance, for example, Arab study institutes whose only requirement is that they never tell the truth. So you have all sorts of Ph.D.’s who now show up quite cheerfully prepared to say whatever it is that makes their founders happy — in the name, of course, of academic freedom. In this context, why wouldn’t Columbia host a genocidal madman? It’s just part of political correctness. I mean, Ahmadinejad may say terrible things; he may lock up students, he may kill journalists, he may say, “We should wipe out Israel,” he may say, “We should defeat the United States,” but after all, what has he done that’s inappropriate? What has he done that wouldn’t be repeated at a Hollywood cocktail party or a nice gathering in Europe?

And nobody says, ‘this is totally, utterly, absolutely unacceptable’. Why is it that the number-one threat in intelligence movies is always the CIA? I happened the other night to be watching an old movie, ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’, which is about counterfeiting. But the movie starts with a Secret Service agent who is defending Ronald Reagan in 1985, and the person he is defending Ronald Reagan from is a suicide bomber who is actually, overtly, a Muslim fanatic. Now, six years after 9/11, you could not get that same scene made in Hollywood today.

Just look at the movies. Why is it that the bad person has to be either a right-wing crazed billionaire, or the CIA as a government agency? Go look at the ‘Bourne Ultimatum’. Or a movie like the one that George Clooney made, which was an absolute lie, in which it was implied that if you were a reformist Arab prince, the CIA would kill you. It’s a total lie. We actually have SEALS protecting people all over the world. We actually risk American lives protecting reformers all over the world, and yet Hollywood can’t bring itself to tell the truth, because (a) it’s ideologically opposed to the American government and the American military; and (b), because it’s terrified that if it said something really openly, honestly truthful about Muslim terrorists, they might show up in Hollywood, and somebody might be killed as the Dutch producer was killed. They’re cowards.

And so we’re living a life of cowardice, and in that life of cowardice we’re sleepwalking into a nightmare.

And then you come to Iran. There’s a terrific book. Mark Bowden is a remarkable writer who wrote ‘Black Hawk Down’, has enormous personal courage. He’s a Philadelphia newspaper writer, actually got the money out of the Philadelphia newspaper to go to Somalia to interview the Somalian side of ‘Black Hawk Down’. It’s a remarkable achievement. Tells a great story about getting to Somalia, paying lots of cash, having the local warlord protect him, and after about two weeks the warlord came to him and said, “You know, we’ve decided that we’re very uncomfortable with you being here, and you should leave.”

And so he goes to the hotel, where he is the only hard-currency guest, and says, “I’ve got to check out two weeks early because the warlord has told me that he no longer will protect me.” And the hotel owner, who wants to keep his only hard-currency guest, says, “Well, why are you listening to him? He’s not the government. There is no government.” And Bowden says, “Well, what will I do?” And he says, “You hire a bigger warlord with more guns,” which he did. But then he could only stay one week because he ran out of money.

But this is a guy with real courage. I mean, imagine trying to go out and be a journalist in that kind of world, OK? So Bowden came back and wrote ‘Guest of the Ayatollah’, which is the Iranian hostage of 1979, which he entitled, ‘The First Shots in Iran’s War Against America.’ So in the Bowden world view, the current Iranian dictatorship has been at war with the United States since 1979. Violated international law. Every conceivable tenet of international law was violated when they seized the American Embassy and they seized the diplomats. Killed Americans in Lebanon in the early ’80s. Killed Americans at Khobar Towers in ’95 and had the Clinton administration deliberately avoid revealing the information, as Louis Freeh, the Director of the FBI, has said publicly, because they didn’t want to have to confront the Iranian complicity.

And so you have an Iranian regime which is cited annually as the leading supporter of state terrorism in the world. Every year the State Department says that. It’s an extraordinary act of lucidity on the part of an institution which seeks to avoid it as often as possible And you have Gen. Petraeus come to the U.S. Congress and say publicly in an open session, “The Iranians are waging a proxy war against Americans in Iraq.”

I was so deeply offended by this, it’s hard for me to express it without sounding irrational. I’m an Army Brat. My dad served 27 years in the infantry. The idea that an American general would come to the American Congress, testify in public that our young men and women are being killed by Iran, and we have done nothing, I find absolutely abhorrent So I’m preparing to come and talk today. I got up this morning, and a friend had sent me yesterday’s Jerusalem Post editorial, which if you haven’t read, I recommend to you. It has, for example, the following quote: “On Monday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, ‘The problem of the content of the document setting out joint principles for peace-making post-Annapolis has not been resolved. One of the more pressing problems is the Zionist regime’s insistence on being recognized as a Jewish state. We will not agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined.’

What truly bothers me is the shallowness and the sophistry of the Western governments, starting with our own. When a person says to you, “I don’t recognize that you exist,” you don’t start a negotiation. The person says, “I literally do not recognize” and then lies to you. I mean the first thing you say to this guy is “Terrific. Let’s go visit Mecca. Since clearly there’s no other state except Israel that is based on religion, the fact that I happen to be Christian won’t bother anybody.” And then he’ll say, “Well, that’s different.”

We actually tolerate this. We have created our own nightmare, because we refuse to tell the truth. We refuse to tell the truth to our politicians. Our State Department refuses to tell the truth to the country. If the President of the United States … and again, we’re now so bitterly partisan, we’re so committed to red-vs.-blue hostility … that George W. Bush doesn’t have the capacity to give an address from the Oval Office that has any meaning for half the country. And the anti-war Left is so strong in the Democratic primary that I think it’s almost impossible for any Democratic presidential candidate to tell the truth about the situation.

And so the Republicans are isolated and trying to defend incompetence. The Democrats are isolated and trying to find a way to say, “I’m really for strength as long as I can have peace, but I’d really like to have peace, except I don’t want to recognize these people who aren’t very peaceful.”

I just want to share with you, as a grandfather, as a citizen, as a historian, as somebody who was once speaker of the House, this is a serious national crisis. This is actually 1935 or 1936, and it’s getting worse every year.

None of our enemies are confused. Our enemies don’t get up each morning and go, “Oh, gosh, I think I’ll have an existential crisis of identity in which I will try to think through whether or not we can be friends while you’re killing me.” No; our enemies get up every morning and say, “We hate the West. We hate freedom. We will kill them all.” They would not allow a meeting with women in the room. I was once interviewed by a BBC reporter, a nice young lady who was only about as anti-American as she had to be to keep her job. Since it was a live interview, I turned to her halfway through the interview and I said, “Do you like your job?” And it was summertime, and she’s wearing a short-sleeve dress. And she said, “Well, yes.” She was confused because I had just reversed roles. I said, “Well, then you should hope we win.” She said, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Well, if the enemy wins, you won’t be allowed to be on television.”

I don’t know how to explain it any simpler than that.

Now, what do we need?

We need first of all to recognize this is a real war. Our enemies are peaceful when they’re weak, are ruthless when they’re strong, demand mercy when they’re losing, show no mercy when they’re winning. They understand exactly what this is, and anybody who reads Sun Tzu will understand exactly what we’re living through. This is a total war. One side is going to win. One side is going to lose. You’ll be able to tell who won and who lost by who’s still standing. Most of Islam is not in this war, but most of Islam isn’t going to stop this war. They’re just going to sit to one side and tell you how sorry they are that this is happening.

We had better design grand strategies that are radically bigger and radically tougher and radically more honest than anything currently going on, and that includes winning the argument in Europe, and it includes winning the argument in the rest of the world.

And it includes being very clear, and I’ll just give you one simple example because we’re now muscle-bound by our own inability to talk honestly. Iran produces 60 percent of its own gasoline. It produces lots of crude oil but only has one refinery. It imports 40 percent of its gasoline. The entire 60 percent is produced at one huge refinery.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan decided to break the Soviet empire. He was asked: ‘what’s your vision of the Cold War?’ He said, ‘Four words: we win; they lose.’ He was clearly seen by The New York Times as an out-of-touch, reactionary, right-wing cowboy from California who had no idea what was going on in the world. And eleven years later the Soviet Union disappeared, but obviously that had nothing to do with Reagan because that would have meant he was right. So it’s just a random accident the Soviet Union disappeared.

Part of the war we waged on the Soviet Union involved their natural gas supply because we wanted to cut off their hard currency. The Soviets were desperate to get better equipment for their pipeline. We managed to sell them, through third parties, some very, very sophisticated American pipeline equipment, which they were absolutely thrilled to buy, and thought they had pulled off a huge coup. Now, we weren’t playing fair. We did not tell them that the equipment was designed to fail; to blow itself up. It was in the software that ran the equipment, and they never detected it. One day in 1982, there was an explosion in Siberia so large that the initial reflection on the satellites looked like it was a tactical nuclear weapon. One part of the White House was genuinely worried, and the other part of the White House had to calm them down. They said, “No, no, that’s just our own equipment blowing up.”

In the 28 years since the Iranians declared war on us, in the six years since 9/11, in the months since Gen. Petraeus publicly said they are killing young Americans, we have not been able to figure out how to take down a single refinery. Covertly, quietly, without overt war. And we have not been able to figure out how to use the most powerful Navy in the world to simply stop the tankers and say, “Look, you want to kill young Americans, you’re going to walk to the battlefield. You’re not going to ride in the car, because you’re not going to have any gasoline.”

We don’t have to be stupid. The choice is not cowardice or total war. Reagan unlocked Poland without firing a shot, via an alliance with the Pope, with the labor unions, and with the British. We have every possibility, if we’re prepared to be honest, to shape the world. It’ll be a very big project. It’s going to require an effort much closer to the effort we put into World War II than it is to anything we’ve tried recently. It will require great effort, real intensity and real determination. We’re either going to do it now, while we’re still extraordinarily powerful, or we’re going to do it later under much more desperate circumstances after we’ve lost several cities.

We had better take this seriously, because we are not very many mistakes away from a second Holocaust. Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust. Our enemies would like to get those weapons as soon as they can, and they promise to use them as soon as they can. I suggest we defeat our enemies, and create a different situation long before they have that power.

Thank you.”

— Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich

Democratic Debate: Promising Armageddon

April 18, 2008

As a conservative, I obviously found difficulties in a number of issues and statements raised in the Democratic debate last night (April 16). But the candidates response to the issue of the war in Iraq – particularly framed as it was against the even greater issues of a looming nuclear Iran and the threat of a nuclear arms race in the most violent, terrifying, and paranoid region in the world – was downright disturbing.

As I listened to the Democratic candidates, I had a dizzying moment of “deja vu all over again” as I recalled the historic lessons of the disasterous liberal failures that enabled World War II. And I could not help but remember the biblical narratives prohecying that total future apocalypse commonly known as “armageddon.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/16/us/politics/16text-debate.html?pagewanted=13.

MANDY GARBER of Pittsburgh asked the following question: “So, the real question is, I mean, do the candidates have a real plan to get us out of Iraq or is it just real campaign propaganda? And you know, it’s really unclear. They keep saying we want to bring the troops back, but considering what’s happening on the ground, how is that going to happen?

CHARLES GIBSON followed up: “Let me just add a little bit to that question, because your communications director in your campaign, Howard Wolfson on a conference call recently was asked, “Is Senator Clinton going to stick to her announced plan of bringing one or two brigades out of Iraq every month whatever the realities on the ground?” And Wolfson said, “I’m giving you a one-word answer so we can be clear about it, the answer is yes.”

So if the military commanders in Iraq came to you on day one and said this kind of withdrawal would destabilize Iraq, it would set back all of the gains that we have made, no matter what, you’re going to order those troops to come home?

SENATOR CLINTON replied: “Yes, I am, Charlie. And here’s why: You know, thankfully we have a system in our country of civilian control of the military. And our professional military are the best in the world. They give their best advice and then they execute the policies of the president. I have watched this president as he has continued to change the rationale and move the goalposts when it comes to Iraq.

And I am convinced that it is in America’s best interest, it is in the best interest of our military, and I even believe it is in the best interest of Iraq, that upon taking office, I will ask the secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and my security advisers to immediately put together for me a plan so that I can begin to withdraw within 60 days. I will make it very clear that we will do so in a responsible and careful manner, because obviously, withdrawing troops and equipment is dangerous.

I will also make it clear to the Iraqis that they no longer have a blank check from the president of the United States, because I believe that it will be only through our commitment to withdraw that the Iraqis will begin to do what they have failed to do for all of these years.

I will also begin an intensive diplomatic effort, both within the region and internationally, to begin to try to get other countries to understand the stakes that we all face when it comes to the future of Iraq.

But I have been convinced and very clear that I will begin to withdraw troops within 60 days. And we’ve had other instances in our history where some military commanders have been very publicly opposed to what a president was proposing to do.

But I think it’s important that this decision be made, and I intend to make it.”

CHARLES GIBSON addressed Senator Obama with the same question: “And Senator Obama, your campaign manager, David Plouffe, said, when he is — this is talking about you — when he is elected president, we will be out of Iraq in 16 months at the most; there should be no confusion about that.

So you’d give the same rock-hard pledge, that no matter what the military commanders said, you would give the order: Bring them home.

SENATOR OBAMA: “Because the commander in chief sets the mission, Charlie. That’s not the role of the generals. And one of the things that’s been interesting about the president’s approach lately has been to say, well, I’m just taking cues from General Petraeus.

Well, the president sets the mission. The general and our troops carry out that mission. And unfortunately we have had a bad mission, set by our civilian leadership, which our military has performed brilliantly. But it is time for us to set a strategy that is going to make the American people safer.

Now, I will always listen to our commanders on the ground with respect to tactics. Once I’ve given them a new mission, that we are going to proceed deliberately in an orderly fashion out of Iraq and we are going to have our combat troops out, we will not have permanent bases there, once I’ve provided that mission, if they come to me and want to adjust tactics, then I will certainly take their recommendations into consideration; but ultimately the buck stops with me as the commander in chief.

And what I have to look at is not just the situation in Iraq, but the fact that we continue to see al Qaeda getting stronger in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, we continue to see anti-American sentiment fanned all cross the Middle East, we are overstretched in a way — we do not have a strategic reserve at this point. If there was another crisis that was taking place, we would not have a brigade that we could send to deal with that crisis that isn’t already scheduled to be deployed in Iraq. That is not sustainable. That’s not smart national security policy, and it’s going to change when I’m president.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS then turned attention to the issue of Iran and the threat it represented to the region: “Senator Obama, let’s stay in the region. Iran continues to pursue a nuclear option. Those weapons, if they got them, would probably pose the greatest threat to Israel. During the Cold War, it was the United States policy to extend deterrence to our NATO allies. An attack on Great Britain would be treated as if it were an attack on the United States. Should it be U.S. policy now to treat an Iranian attack on Israel as if it were an attack on the United States?

SENATOR OBAMA responded: Well, our first step should be to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Iranians, and that has to be one of our top priorities. And I will make it one of our top priorities when I’m president of the United States.

I have said I will do whatever is required to prevent the Iranians from obtaining nuclear weapons. I believe that that includes direct talks with the Iranians where we are laying out very clearly for them, here are the issues that we find unacceptable, not only development of nuclear weapons but also funding terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as their anti-Israel rhetoric and threats towards Israel. I believe that we can offer them carrots and sticks, but we’ve got to directly engage and make absolutely clear to them what our posture is.

Now, my belief is that they should also know that I will take no options off the table when it comes to preventing them from using nuclear weapons or obtaining nuclear weapons, and that would include any threats directed at Israel or any of our allies in the region.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “So you would extend our deterrent to Israel?

SENATOR OBAMA: “As I’ve said before, I think it is very important that Iran understands that an attack on Israel is an attack on our strongest ally in the region, one that we — one whose security we consider paramount, and that — that would be an act of aggression that we — that I would — that I would consider an attack that is unacceptable, and the United States would take appropriate action.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “Senator Clinton, would you?

SENATOR CLINTON: “Well, in fact, George, I think that we should be looking to create an umbrella of deterrence that goes much further than just Israel. Of course I would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States, but I would do the same with other countries in the region.

You know, we are at a very dangerous point with Iran. The Bush policy has failed. Iran has not been deterred. They continue to try to not only obtain the fissile material for nuclear weapons but they are intent upon and using their efforts to intimidate the region and to have their way when it comes to the support of terrorism in Lebanon and elsewhere.

And I think that this is an opportunity, with skillful diplomacy, for the United States to go to the region and enlist the region in a security agreement vis-a-vis Iran. It would give us three tools we don’t now have.

Number one, we’ve got to begin diplomatic engagement with Iran, and we want the region and the world to understand how serious we are about it. And I would begin those discussions at a low level. I certainly would not meet with Ahmadinejad, because even again today he made light of 9/11 and said he’s not even sure it happened and that people actually died. He’s not someone who would have an opportunity to meet with me in the White House. But I would have a diplomatic process that would engage him.

And secondly, we’ve got to deter other countries from feeling that they have to acquire nuclear weapons. You can’t go to the Saudis or the Kuwaitis or UAE and others who have a legitimate concern about Iran and say: Well, don’t acquire these weapons to defend yourself unless you’re also willing to say we will provide a deterrent backup and we will let the Iranians know that, yes, an attack on Israel would trigger massive retaliation, but so would an attack on those countries that are willing to go under this security umbrella and forswear their own nuclear ambitions.”

Now, I am glad that both candidates want to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, want to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the region, and want to promise to protect our allies in the region. I believe these are all very good things.

But I want to focus attention on the fact that withdrawing from Iraq will actually have the very opposite effects from these goals, and will virtually guarantee that none of these goals would be attainable. If the United States abandons Iraq, it will put us on a trajectory toward disaster.

In an earlier article, I attempted to draw some of the parallels between our abandonment of Vietnam between 1973 and 1975, with what would almost certainly happen were we to similarly abandon Iraq. In short, the United States pulled its forces out due to domestic protest after it had painstakingly attained a stable military situation. The 1968 Tet offensive had been a military disaster for the Communist North, and the Viet Cong guerrillas had been annihilated in the American counteroffensive. But the domestic protests, and the scandal that undermined the Nixon presidency, forced the United States to negotiate with the North. Nixon claimed a “Peace with honor,” but the Democratic-controlled Congress refused to honor the American commitment to South Vietnam. Military aid ceased; funds were cut off. And when North Vietnamese tanks rolled on Saigon, the Republic of South Vietnam had nothing to stop them with. A bloodbath of massive proportions followed that spread from Vietnam to Cambodia to Laos. Three million died after the war, and untold numbers of refugee “boat people” perished at sea.

American prestige was terribly undermined as our enemies realized we truly could be defeated, and our allies realized that we would not necessarily keep our promises. The United States soon withdrew its commitments elsewhere, including its backing of the Shah of Iran, who had been the closest American ally in the region. To this very day, our enemies believe that the United States can not stand a prolonged war with casualties, and that we will withdraw – “cut and run” – from our allies and our interests if they can pile up enough bodies.

I think about these things. And I greatly mourn that we may very well be in the process of repeating our same mistakes in nearly exactly the same manner. Only this time the stakes are much, much higher, and the disaster that will surely follow will be much, much worse.

As a student of history, I remember the abject failure of the Western allies to grasp the growing threat of their enemies throughout the 1930s. I remember the refusal of the liberal governments of the Allied powers to comprehend what are now known to have been fundamental realities of naked aggression and looming war. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain abandoned his country’s commitment to Czechoslovakia with a promise from Hitler of peace. The liberal, “anti-war” Chamberlain returned home saying, “I believe it is peace in our time!” Chamberlain saw Britain’s policy as a willingness to compromise and a desire for peace. But Hitler saw only weakness, hesitation, and cowardice, and became emboldened for total war. Again and again, the West had had an opportunity to demonstrate its genuine resolve to Hitler, and again and again the West had failed to stand.

In our present day, the Democratic Party has demonstrated a shocking degree of treachery in regard to Iraq. It is their war as much as it is Republicans’ war – because it should be America’s war.

In his 1998 State of the Union Address before the United States Congress, President Clinton told the world, “I say to Saddam Hussein: You cannot deny the will of the world. You have used weapons of mass destruction before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.” A week later, President Clinton said, “I will say again, one way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.”

On 31 October 1998, President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act into law, saying, “It should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace the regime.”

After the horror of the 9/11 attacks, the full horror of Islamic terrorists murderous intent was nakedly revealed to a shocked United States. Military and civilian national security authorities alike immediately realized that the attacks would have been far, far worse if the terrorists had been able to obtain WMD capability. And they knew that major terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda were determined to obtain WMD.

President Bush confronted Saddam Hussein over his country’s weapons program, but the Iraqi dictator refused to give the United States a clear picture of his capability. The United States Senate voted 77-23 to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq in 2002; the United States House of Representatives approved the resolution, 296-133. The vote wasn’t even close. The resolution actually passed by wider margins than the 1991 resolution that had empowered President George H.W. Bush to go to war to expel Iraq from Kuwait. That 1991 measure passed 250-183 in the House and 52-47 in the Senate. Furthermore, a clear majority of Democrats in the Senate supported the October 2002 war resolution: 29 Democratic Senators voted “aye” and only 21 “nay.”

On 17 March 2003, Senator Hillary Clinton said on the eve of war, “Tonight, the President gave Saddam Hussein one last chance to avoid war, and the world hopes that Saddam Hussein will finally hear this ultimatum, understand the severity of those words, and act accordingly. While we wish there were more international support for the effort to disarm Saddam Hussein, at this critical juncture it is important for all of us to come together in support of our troops and pray that, if war does occur, this mission is accomplished swiftly and decisively with minimum loss of life and civilian casualties.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on 15 December 2003 after celebrating the capture of Saddam Hussein, she declared, “I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote” and was one that “I stand by.” The speech she gave that evening is noteworthy given the abject treachery she would come to show in repudiating everything she said that evening.
http://www.cfr.org/publication/6600/remarks_by_senator_hillary_rodham_clinton_transcript.html

Democrats can’t just walk away from a commitment to a war that this nation elected to undertake, can they? But that is exactly what they did. To paraphrase the famous John Kerry flip flop of his failed 2004 presidential campaign, “I voted for that war before I voted against it.” We were at war, but the Democrats turned and ran on Republicans the moment the fighting got fierce. And for simple political opportunism they have spent the five years since talking about Republican war-mongering rather than their own moral cowardice.

UPI reported on story titled, “Negative U.S. media linked to increased insurgent attacks.” The article begins: “Researchers at Harvard say that publicly voiced doubts about the U.S. occupation of Iraq have a measurable “emboldenment effect” on insurgents there. ‘We find that in periods immediately after a spike in anti-resolve statements, the level of insurgent attacks increases,’ says the study, published earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a leading U.S. nonprofit economic research organization.”
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080324/FOREIGN/259963993/1003

Can anyone believe that when major Democrats say things such as, “The war is lost” (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) that this doesn’t embolden our enemies to stay in the fight?

Somehow, both Democratic presidential candidates as well as the very nearly the entire Democratic political apparatus believes that they have absolutely no responsibility for the war, or to the people of Iraq. They believe they can simply blame it all on Bush and the Republicans and count on an ignorant and increasingly amoral America to go along with their revision of history.

But when they abandon the commitment to Iraq that better and more honorable Americans made to that country, they will be undermining the future of America.

Democrats will be mouthing the mantra, “I believe it is peace in our time!” Even as they set the stage for total Armageddon. Iran – just as Nazi Germany – will see what the Democrats view as high-minded liberal foreign policy as weakness, hesitation, and cowardice. And the next Democratic president will either see that Armageddon arise during his/her own administration, or else he or she will set it up for the next presidential administration just as Jimmy Carter set up the modern state of Iran by betraying the Shah and enabling the Ayatollahs to take over in his stead.

Both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama agreed that we must not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. But how will the Democrats – who now universally and roundly condemn President Bush’s decision to attack Iraq without total proof of WMD when he had used WMD repeatedly on his enemies – arrive at the threshhold of certainty? The fact is, we can never be certain what is going on iside a totalitarian state such as Iran (or Iraq). Further, when the Democrats have spent the last five years proclaiming that the war in Iraq was a mistake, how are they now going to be able to say with a straight face, “And we’re willing to make the same mistake with you” to Iran?

Iran will know that 1) all they have to do is continue to develop their nukes in some degree of murkiness, because Democrats can’t go in unless they are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN Iran has such weapons. So we won’t ever be able to go in there under a Democratic administration. And 2) Iran will know that even if Democrats DID go in (Which they won’t!), they wouldn’t stay the course if the fighting got tough (which it most certainly would). All Iran has to do is keep piling up bodies – even if its just the bodies of their own – and Democrats will turn and run. It is what they do. More than anything else in our generation, cutting and running defines the Democratic Party.

Clinton and Obama also let it be known that Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt will trust them when they pledge to defend them from Iran, making their own nuclear programs unneccessary. The problem of a nuclear Iran goes beyond a nuclear Iran: it creates an imbalance of power that will force Sunni nations such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt to develop their own nuclear programs to balance the Shiite Iranians. Think of a nuclear arms race going on in the most radical, terrifying, murderous, and paranoid region in the world. And Sunnis – who we know DON’T get along real well with Shiites, will trust the United States to stick by them through thick and thin? Yeah, right; the Democrats who have spent five years vowing to cut and run from staying in Iraq will now stand by their word to help you, Saudi Arabia and Egypt? (“But we really mean it this time!”).

Allow me to guarantee you that a Democratic administration will see a nuclear Iran. Given their policy on Iraq, it becomes an implicit campaign promise. And it will see a nuclearized Middle East. Democrats have spent forty years proving that they are cowards who will not stand by their allies, and their actions will come home to roost.

A Republican president can say to the Iranians, “We went in to Iran when we thought they might attack us, Iran. And I promise that will do the same to you if you continue your weapons program.” And no one can question that. A Republican president can say to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt, “We stayed with Iraq and defended them even when it was difficult, and we’ll do the same for you.” and no one can question that.