Another factor to consider in our comparison to the 1930’s is a weakness in leadership.
Factor #3: Appeasement Presents Weakness in the Face of Tyranny
While Hitler and Mussolini were rebuilding their armed forces, the rest of Europe, and the world (for the most part) slumbered. Stalin was busy purging the leadership of what was once the best military on the continent. FDR was foisting his failed policies upon an economically depressed America. Britain, still scarred by the horrendous losses in WWI, looked to their leaders to maintain peace, as another war was unthinkable. France, also appalled by the carnage of the last war, invested heavily in the static defenses of the Maginot Line, and suffered internal political and economic instability.
The effects of WWI cannot be underestimated. It was unparalleled carnage. It was a war of large static defenses, with little to no capability for maneuver. Calvary could not outrun machine guns, so infantry charges against prepared defenses were the order if the day. Massive artillery and poison gas killed and maimed many more. In a single days fighting, one side could lose as many men as were lost by the US in all of Vietnam. The youth of Europe were mowed down by the millions, and the lines changed little. After the war, Europe vowed to never have another, and sought to severely punish Germany for the last one. Ironically, it was their response to the first war that laid the seeds for the second.
When Hitler abrogated the Treaty of Versailles, which limited Germany’s military might, the allied powers did nothing, even though they could have with relative ease. When Hitler sent troops to re-occupy the Rhineland, the allies did nothing. When Hitler annexed Austria, there was inaction. When Hitler wanted the Sudetenland, it was done by negotiation, and many would say capitulation, by the Allies. Then, the allies stood by while Hitler’s armies took the rest of Czechoslovakia. At every stage of the process, the allies caved to Hitler’s demands, thinking that if they gave him what he wanted, he would be quiet and go away.
The allies either failed to read, or accept the implications of Hitler’s desires. Rather than confront him, they sought to “understand him.” However, this “understanding” had nothing to do with Hitler’s stated intent. Instead of looking at the reality of the situation, the Allied leadership allowed their political desires and philosophies color their perceptions. Needless to say, they either entirely missed the intent of the fascists, or they displayed cowardice in the face of tyranny. People that did speak out were attacked and ridiculed. Those that made the connections between what Hitler was saying, and what he was doing were accused of being warmongers, or, at the least, insane.
Their idealistic, yet misguided, desire to prevent a war caused a larger and more destructive one. Like the schoolyard bully who has beaten all of his peers, Hitler read the efforts of the Allies as signs of weakness. Their lack of resolve to stand for or defend anything caused him to think that he could get away with more and more. And indeed, each occupation and scheme was larger than the last. When Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, returned from Munich with an “agreement” with Hitler, stating that there would be, “Peace in our time,” the die was already cast. Hitler was convinced that he could take more, and defeat the Allies.
In the end, Hitler almost did defeat the Allies. Only his megalomania and horrendous handling of the war effort prevented his victory. Thankfully, the entire world did not have to pay for the weakness and appeasement of the Allies. Even so, the death toll from the war numbered in the tens of millions, and most of a continent was laid waste. All of that could have been prevented if the Allies had simply shown some spine and stopped Hitler when he was weak. Instead of confronting evil, they sought to appease it, and in so doing, they encouraged more of it.
So, how does this scenario compare to today’s world?
As we discussed in the previous post in the series, there are two groups that are openly planning territorial conquest; those among illegal immigrants who wish to form Aztlan, and radical Islam. For the purposes of this post, most of the attention will be paid to radical Islam, as that is the global movement.
President Obama promised to change to tone of our foreign relations. He has followed through on that promise. He went on, what many thought of as a, “World Apology Tour.” He apologized to tyrants and dictators, our allies, and for fighting terrorism.
1. Apology to Europe: Speech in Strasbourg, France, April 3. “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe‘s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”
2. Apology to the Muslim world: Interview with Al Arabiya, January 27. “My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect.”
3. Apology to the Summit of the Americas: Address to the Summit of the Americas, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, April 17. “While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms.”
4. Apology at the G-20 Summit of World Leaders: News conference in London, April 2. “I just think in a world that is as complex as it is, that it is very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions.”
5. Apology for the War on Terror: Speech in Washington, D.C., May 21. “Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight, that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions.”
6. Apology for Guantanamo in France: Speech in Strasbourg, France, April 3. “In dealing with terrorism, we can’t lose sight of our values and who we are. That’s why I closed Guantanamo. That’s why I made very clear that we will not engage in certain interrogation practices. I don’t believe that there is a contradiction between our security and our values. And when you start sacrificing your values, when you lose yourself, then over the long term that will make you less secure.”
7. Apology for America before the Turkish Parliament: Speech to the Turkish Parliament, Ankara, Turkey, April 6. “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.”
8. Apology for U.S. Policy toward the Americas: Editorial “Choosing a Better Future in the Americas,” April 16. “Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas.”
9. Apology for the Mistakes of the CIA: Remarks to CIA employees at Langley, Va., April 29. “Don’t be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we’ve made some mistakes.”
10. Apology for Guantanamo: Speech in Washington, D.C., May 21. “There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world.”
Additionally, his administration has attempted to “change the language” used in describing those groups that have sworn to killing us. Instead of terrorism, we have “man made disasters.” Instead of the War on Terror, we have “overseas contingency operations.” An attempt has been made to remove most, if not all meaning from our struggle with radical Islam. This is no accident. By rendering the words irrelevant, an attempt is being made to render the struggle irrelevant.
Unfortunately, the people that have sworn to kill us will not care about Obama’s softer rhetoric. Their ideas are of conquest, as they believe their religion dictates. They educated their children to this at the earliest possible ages. They eagerly send their sons and daughters off to be martyrs. Their public statements demand that the rest of the world submit to Islam, or be put to the sword. They have gone as far as to release videos of “infidels” being beheaded to prove their point. All of this is ignored, or downplayed by our government.
This “politics of meaninglessness” goes as far as to refuse to acknowledge the stated intent, or even the name of our enemies.
The MSM is in on the act as well. For example, the acts of the Fort Hood shooter we not attributed to Islam, even though his words and actions clearly showed it. Some media sources suggested that the poor economy was the cause of the attempted Times Square Bombing. Additionally, the MSM refuses to cover the stated intent of Islamists, here, or abroad. Whether through distorted belief, or deception, our government and its supporters are set upon denying reality.
Another way to frame this argument is by observing the reactions of our adversaries.
- Hamas and ally (?) Turkey, sent a ship full of would-be martyrs to violate the blockade of the Gaza.
- North Korea torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel.
- Iran has become increasingly defiant in developing its nuclear weapons program.
- Hugo Chavez has become increasingly bold in purchasing weapons and attempting to destabilize his neighbors. (Forget the empty store shelves)
- The Russians have stepped up their interference with their neighbors, and disrespected Obama when he visited last year. (They seem to have been particularly encouraged when Obama reneged on agreements to install missile defense systems in Poland)
- The Chinese are busily modernizing their military capabilities, especially their naval forces. Their naval exercises have come increasingly close to Japanese and American bases.
Additionally, rhetoric and saber rattling have increased. Also, anti American and anti-Semitic rhetoric is on the rise, especially as the relationship between Israel and the US has grown colder. Even antisemitic and anti-American groups have come out in the open to call for our destruction. It seems that they are convinced that Obama’s presidency presents them with an opportunity to advance their agenda with little to no interference, at least from the current administration.
For me, the writing is on the wall. Foreign despots are recognizing that Obama is weak. They do not believe that he has the stomach for confrontation, and are taking his softer, meaningless rhetoric as a sign that the world’s remaining super power is a paper tiger. Not because we can’t fight evil in the world, but because Obama seems not to have the will to even identify it, let alone confront it.
Now, just as in the 1930’s, this strategy invites disaster. With the number of nuclear-armed nations growing, a war caused by appeasement takes on a more apocalyptic nature. More and more tyrants are arming themselves, and take no issue with targeting civilians. If this appeasement leads to another war, the death toll will be horrific. Consider this quote from Albert Einstein;
“I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”