When Slippery Slope Becomes Steeper
by Salim Mansur
The theatrics of negotiation with Iran seen recently at the UN make dismally clear why history's most horrific war that started 70 years ago last month, and could have been prevented, became inevitable.
Adolf Hitler likely did not want a "great" war as the English historian A.J.P. Taylor contended. Hitler wanted through guile, bluff and bluster to restore Germany's great power status in Europe and achieve as much of the aims of his political movement, including forcibly driving out Jews.
"Though the object of being a Great Power is to be able to fight a great war," wrote Taylor, "the only way of remaining a Great Power is not to fight one, or to fight it on a limited scale."
Hitler almost succeeded until he over-reached by invading Poland in September 1939.
Once Hitler was sworn in as chancellor in January 1933, he began to provocatively cast aside settlements imposed on the country by victors of the war of 1914-18 with increasing support of Germany's voters and the political elite.
Each time Hitler defied Britain and France flipping his middle finger at them, as he tore up the Treaty of Versailles, pushed Germany's rearmament, reoccupied the Rhineland in March 1936, annexed Austria in March 1938 and precipitated the crisis over Czechoslovakia, British and French leaders dithered.
As Hitler ranted, rearmed, pressured his neighbours, unleashed mobs against domestic political opponents and Jews, his opposite numbers in Paris and London were convinced -- particularly Britain's prime minister Neville Chamberlain -- that with sufficient concessions to appease Germany's nationalist grievances he would turn pacific.
Appeasement made the Second World War inevitable, while a resolute military response by Britain and France to Hitler any time before September 1939 at the risk of a limited local armed confrontation would likely have averted the war that eventually consumed Europe.
The lesson of appeasement from the 1930s should have been indelibly imprinted on the minds of political leaders of the free world, or it was so assumed until the present.
For the past several years the West engaged in a diplomatic charade with Iran's leaders even as they repeatedly told lies in quest of nuclear weapons.
The U.S. kept some distance from this charade and its military option on the table to deny an irredeemably roguish regime in Tehran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. But the present leader of the free world, U.S. President Barack Obama, flippantly oblivious to history's lesson has practically conceded through the recently convened meeting of the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany with Iran's representatives that Tehran's nuclear quest is irreversible.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been flipping his middle finger at the West, exulting in anti-Semitic threats to wipe Israel from the map, murderously smothering his domestic opponents, and pursuing with much public devotion his late mentor Ayatollah Khomeini's policy of exporting Qom's brand of radical Islamism in the region and beyond through terror since first elected in 2005.
Obama in turn has pulled out Chamberlain's discredited pages on diplomacy to assuage grievances of thugs as they trample on their people with the world watching, and the make belief that such theatrics will turn Ahmadinejad and his master, Ayatollah Khamenei, pacific.
Hitler's ghost somewhere deep inside hell is smiling.