The Language of Appeasement
My last post dealt with Rummy's claim that Iraq War critics are appeasers, specifically they are appeasing "vicious extremists." In today's Guardian, a significantly left of center English publication which I often read, presents a perfect example of an argument for caution in our approach to Iran that sounds like the sort of "appeasement" argument that Conservatives might cite to say that Liberals are soft on terrorism. The issue concerns whether or not the U.S. will go ballistic, pun intended, against Iran for thumbing its nose at UN resolution 1696 which insisted that Iran suspend enrichment of uranium of the sort that could give Iran the wherewith all to develop nuclear weapons.
Israel once took out an Iraqi nuclear reactor by bombing it on June 7, 1981.
An undisclosed number of F-15 interceptors and F-16 fighter bombers destroyed the Osirak reactor 18 miles south of Baghdad, on the orders of Prime Minister Menachem Begin.It is no accident that Begin would have taken unilateral action in this matter because he was, in a way, the quintessential Jewish Warrior. I would say "Israeli Warrior" were it not for the fact that he got his start earlier than the date Israel came into being So there is precedent for taking unilateral action against a Muslim state though not necessarily one we should follow.
John Williams of the Guardian claims that Hizbullah's success has bolstered the confidence of the Iranian government. He might have added that the support of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez for Iran's right to develop nuclear power further adds to Iran's mojo, for Venezuela, like Iran, is an oil power. Chavez has chosen to send less oil to the USA so that he can send more to China and India. He might want to watch his step for the US has gone to war south of our border for a lot less.
Williams predicts that Iran will divide the Security Council due to its "traditional cunning in negotiation." This would lead to "the end of any hope of a negotiated solution brokered by the international community." Without Russia and China, the international community cannot act effectively. At this point, Williams says the next step is that "President Bush concludes that the UN and all who argue for negotiation, conciliation, engagement and international consensus have been proved hopelessly wrong: America must act militarily before Iran becomes a nuclear weapons state." We have been here before. Bush created a "coalition of the willing" that invaded Iraq when he decided that the UN wasn't serious about forcing Iraq to get rid of its WMD. [Actually, I believe that Bush was always going to invade Iraq no matter what.] That would, as it turns out, have been pretty difficult thing to do since he had already gotten rid of them. Why the fool, Saddam Hussein, just didn't give UN inspectors full access to his country I will never understand. Apparently he thought it would be better to see his country destroyed and him personally being arrested and tried on murder charges. Hitler took the same position but mooted the murder charge.
Williams then takes a the position of an appeaser par excellence when he says
the heroic approach to this potential catastrophe is patiently and tediously to persuade and cajole America and Iran into talking, delaying, arguing, disputing - in other words, not fighting. Even if we can't get them to agree, the tedium of diplomacy might at least go on until new attitudes and leadership emerge.The appeaser talks and gives ground; talks some more and gives more ground; then talks some more and gives still more ground ad nauseum infinitum.
There is no mention of the use of force of some sort as a part of the process. Instead, one talks and concedes, as I suggested was true of the classic appeaser. Williams claims
The regime in Tehran, of which the president is only one element, is complex and capable of acting very effectively against our interests. We should be giving Iran incentives to act reasonably, however perversely the regime responds to generous offers like the one to give all necessary support to its civil nuclear programme. We must not lose patience.What more can the international community offer to Iran but to help it in any way needed to ensure it has a plentiful supply of nuclear power. Any other concessions and one begins to border on genuine appeasement in the worst sense of the term.
I was for talking Saddam to death to avoid an invasion of Iraq. I was sure that we could safely do so since he seemed to be relatively harmless. As it turns out he was the quintessential paper tiger -- no WMD, not much of an air force, and an army that had not recovered from the first Gulf War. But who knew about the WMD? Everyone believed he had chemical weapons. The USA gave such weapons to him during the Iran war and in his report to the UN detailing how he had gotten rid of all WMD no mention of the destruction of these chemical weapons was made. Ergo, everyone was entitled to believe he still had them.
So, the question is whether we can safely engage in an endless process of talking more and possibly giving more with Iran. I do not have the answer to that question. I share Mr. Williams' fear that we are on the brink of something that could be very bad. And we all know to what extent Bush is capable of "Cowboying Up."
Some time back, The New Yorker had an article which, if memory serves, said that the Bush Administrationion was ready and willing to attack Iran's nuclear sites but that our military and/or our intelligence services told him that they weren't sure of their location, including especially the underground facility that is understood to exist, and had no confidence in the success of any air strike on known sites. Nothing would be worse that a monster attack on supposed Iranian nuclear sites that failed.
Nevertheless if you ever want to read a classic liberal/leftist appeasement statement, Williams has provided one. I don't know how accurate the New Yorker's story about Bush's thinking about attacking Iran or its stating what the military's and/or intelligence agencies' advice to Bush was about such attacks. I have it on good authority that similar cautionary tales were told to Rummy, Cheney, and Bush by the same people in regard to going to war against Iraq. Bush et al ignored that advice and one high ranking General was given his walking papers. They might ignore such advice again despite the current disaster in Iraq. I have a very bad feeling about this -- about Bush's going proactive in a military way to force Iran to do what the UN has said it wants and about his not going proactive in a military way. If Iran gets nukes the world will be a more dangerous place. But the fact is, or so I believe, Bush can't engage Iran or any other formidable nation so long as we have a large army in Iraq for it too might be vulnerable to an Iranian attack. It will take Bush most of the rest of his term to get our army out of Iraq leaving precious little time to move on Iran.
I await the wisdom of the readers. I have none to offer as to the correct course of action but appeasement rankles.