Hitler-Chamberlain-Munich-Appeasement comparisons have long become a cliché. The latest proposed nuclear deal with Iran may be unwise, but not every bad policy, however dangerous, equals 1938. The British prime minister who ceded Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany in a vain quest for peace never recovered from his ignominy, although he later backed his successor Winston Churchill. Neville Chamberlain’s partner in appeasement was Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, the tall, slender nobleman who embodied British aristocratic understatement.
Halifax’s biographer is the distinguished British conservative writer Andrew Roberts, who now lives in New York, and whom I briefly met recently at a Winston Churchill symposium. The Holy Fox: the Life of Lord Halifax has been out of print for years and is hard to get. Roberts delightedly told me it’s being republished early in 2014. Days later, I happily found a rare old copy at a Washington, D.C. used book store.
Accidental wars only happen in the movies. What’s happening now in the East China Sea is a calculated Chinese provocation that could lead to war. At the same time, the Argentine-engineered crisis in the waters off the Falkland Islands is just as dangerous because Argentina may be more reckless than it was when Margaret Thatcher defeated it and Britain is so much weaker. It is of such events that wars can be made.
War for oil isn’t new. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, its principal grievance was the American decision to cut off most of its oil supply.
On November 23, China declared a new “air defense identification zone” that extends to the north close to South Korea, to the south within miles of Taiwan, and to the east to encompass the Senkaku Islands, a short chain of uninhabitable islands off southern Japan that the Japanese have claimed ownership of since 1895.
The agreement reached late Saturday night between Iran and the United States — and the rest of the United Nations’ “P5+1” gang — will enhance Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons whenever it decides to do so. It makes war in the Middle East nearly a certainty, rather than protecting us against it.
For Obama — and while he is president, for us — there is no responsibility so great that it cannot be sacrificed to political expediency, no duty so grave that it cannot be ignored.
America has an obligation to itself, and to allies such as Israel, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms. Four American presidents — George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — have recognized this duty by stating firmly an American policy that Iran is not to be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. The first three of those presidents share the distinction of having done nothing to enforce that policy. The fourth has assured his place in history by surrendering the policy to Iran’s ambitions.
Liberals casually use our armed services as lab rats for all sorts of social experimentation. But even they used to have limits. The warrior culture — which has everything to do with merit and nothing to do with “diversity” — embraces every man of every race, creed, and religion who can make the grade. But the liberals have successfully attacked it in the past ten years with women in combat arms and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We’re all supposed to believe that none of that interferes with the culture of the warrior, military readiness, enlistment rates, or the retention of officers. We’re also supposed to believe that the military welcomes those changes despite rampant misogyny, bias, and discrimination within it.
And that’s driving the latest experiment on the military. It’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) attempt to impose “social justice” on the military. Her bill, which would ensure “justice” by taking the military justice system out of the chain of command, may be voted on by the Senate as early as today. (Senate sources say Gillibrand lacks the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture.)
Nearly ten years ago, the towns in Indonesia were called Banda Aceh and Pangadaran. Now they’re Philippine towns named Guiuan and Tacloban. Odd-sounding names of far-away places that we never hear about unless something terrible has happened there. They have almost nothing to do with America.
But the 600,000 homeless and the millions affected by Typhoon Haiyan are enormously fortunate because Americans want to have something to do with them. And our armed forces are not only the first on the scene after the Filipinos themselves, but they are doing things no one else can do, with speed and effectiveness.
When a disaster like Typhoon Haiyan hits, the big dogs come running and provide the help that only our military can with the speed that only they can achieve.
When Indonesia was nearly destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami nearly ten years ago, Americans stepped up to provide disaster relief as only we can. The UN relief chief at the time, some punk named Jan Egeland, said that the U.S.’s response was stingy. I recall doing a radio interview the following day with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who didn’t take kindly to Egeland’s comment.