Agree With Barry and End Divisiveness

Bob Tyrell on the Democrats’ attempt to declare certain words and subjects out of bounds:

Poor Neville Chamberlain. The long-deceased British prime minister — remembered through the decades for his policy of appeasement and for the war with Hitler that it hastened — now suffers yet another disgrace. The mere mention of “appeasement” apparently sets off paranoid tantrums amongst members of the political class. Once deemed a very enlightened tool of statecraft, “appeasement” has become a slur, a hate term. Speaking before the Israeli Knesset, President George W. Bush associated appeasement with those who “believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.” Kapow! The Democrats went on the offensive, though they had not been mentioned.

…Even the serene and august Sen. Barack Obama stepped down from his cloud of serenity to asseverate: “It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack.” Betraying a hint of what may very well be megalomania, the likely Democratic presidential candidate continued, “George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists.” Yet the president had not mentioned the senator or any other living American politician, not even Jimmy Carter, who most certainly did engage with terrorists as recently as April, when he conferred with representatives from Hamas to mull over, of all things, “human rights.”

For that matter, it was not more than a year ago that Squeaker Pelosi visited with the Syrian leadership in Damascus, concluding, “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace.” If the Syrians do not qualify as terrorists, they certainly give sanctuary and arms to terrorists, some of whom are using those arms in Iraq. I guess we can understand why she is sensitive when the president mentions appeasement.

As for Sen. Obama, he still is trying to wriggle out of an answer he gave to a question someone asked him during a debate last summer. As president, would he meet with the anti-American, anti-Semitic and seemingly delusional president of Iran, “without preconditions”? “I would,” he answered in the sanctimonious tone that always suggests incense is burning nearby. So maybe we can understand why he and the Democratic leadership are so eager to transform yesteryear’s failed policy of appeasement into a hate term. Incidentally, “irresponsible and frankly naive” was Sen. Clinton’s immediate assessment of Sen. Obama’s pert answer. She has shown herself to be an able critic of the Democratic front-runner. Possibly she eventually will join the McCain campaign.

One thing that all these Democrats have in common is a colossal moral superiority. As we have seen before, they repeatedly presume to set the terms of political debate. They rule over the appropriateness of words and strategies, telling us what the Republicans can and cannot say. Now they have ruled the word “appeasement” to be “reckless,” “outrageous” and bereft of “dignity.” The term has been applied to opponents of a forceful foreign policy for two generations, during which forceful foreign policy kept America secure. Alas, in this election, the Democrats have ruled the word “appeasement” out of bounds.

To Obama, the term is redolent of that “divisiveness” that he abhors. He has crossed the length and breadth of the land lecturing against divisiveness. So how can we end this offensive divisiveness? Well, obviously by agreeing with him and his wife. His wife is also on the campaign trail, and when Republicans react unfavorably to her complaints about America, he tells them to “lay off (his) wife.” What kind of a person tells us what we can and cannot say and with whom we must be in agreement? To my mind, it is a bully, and now we are going to have months of watching Sen. Obama attempt to bully Sen. John McCain. Over in Vietnam somewhere, there are retired jailers who could tell him that one cannot bully McCain, even when you have him flat on his back with broken bones.

I hope he is right about McCain.

And Robert Novak on the same subject:

…Obama implores McCain in the interest of “one nation” and “one people” not to attack him. The shorthand, widely repeated by the news media, is that the Republican candidate must not “Swift boat” Obama. That amounts to unilateral political disarmament by McCain.

McCain is not about to disarm. His campaign has no intention of fighting this battle on Democratic turf. During the more than five months ahead, Republicans will explore the mindset of this young man who is a stranger to most Americans. That includes his association with the Chicago leftist William Ayers, who has remained unrepentant about his violent role as a 1960s radical. This will not be popular with McCain’s erstwhile admirers in the mainstream news media, but America has not heard the last of Bill Ayers in this campaign.

Indicating what lies ahead is the McCain campaign’s plan to bring in Tim Griffin, a protege of Karl Rove, who is a leading practitioner of opposition research — digging up derogatory information about opponents. Although final arrangements have not been pinned down, Griffin would work at the Republican National Committee, as he did in Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

It is an article of Democratic faith that John Kerry would have been elected president had not Republicans undermined public confidence in his leadership and integrity by assailing his performance as a Swift boat commander in Vietnam. McCain, idolized by much of the news media in 2000 as the potential Bush slayer, is now stigmatized as adopting not only his former intraparty adversary’s policies but also his tactics.

Simultaneously, with Clinton no longer around to worry about, Obama deplores “the failed policies that John McCain wants to double down on.” He is relentless in pressing home that point. Last Saturday, in Roseburg, Ore.: “If you agree we’ve had a great foreign policy over the last four or eight years, then you should vote for John McCain. (He) wants to give you the failed Bush health-care policy for another four years.” On Monday, in Billings, Mont.: “John McCain has decided to run for George Bush’s third term.”

While on this attack, Obama rails against any responsive fire from McCain. He has lashed out against criticism of his declared willingness to sit down with Ahmadinejad and Cuba’s Raul Castro. McCain’s strategists are infuriated by prestigious political reporters and commentators whom they see supporting Obama’s position. Time columnist Joe Klein turned up in Savannah, Ga., Monday for McCain’s press conference, declaring that McCain had misrepresented Obama as proposing unconditional talks with the Iranian president. After asserting that “I’ve done some research” and “also checked with the Obama campaign,” Klein said Obama “never mentioned Ahmadinejad directly by name. He did say he would negotiate with the leaders.”

In fact, Obama has repeatedly been questioned specifically about Ahmadinejad. At a press conference in New York last September, Obama was asked whether he still would meet with Ahmadinejad. He replied: “Yeah … I find many of President Ahmadinejad’s statements odious. … But we should never fear to negotiate.” In November on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he defended “a conversation with somebody like Ahmadinejad.”

The debate over such “a conversation” was heightened by Bush’s speech last week to the Israeli Knesset, suggesting “appeasement” by Obama. The White House has privately informed the McCain campaign it had no intention of leaping into presidential politics, but Obama’s defensive response enabled him again to link McCain with Bush. Although the Republican candidate would like the unpopular president to get offstage politically, McCain is not about to run a campaign about health care mandates and home foreclosures.

Ann Coulter makes a good point about Democrats and appeasement:

…The way liberals squealed [about Bush’s Knesset speech], you’d think someone had mentioned Obama’s ears. Summoning all their womanly anger, today’s Neville Chamberlains denounced Bush, saying this was an unjustified attack on Obambi and, furthermore, that it’s absurd to compare B. Hussein Obama’s willingness to “talk” to Ahmadinejad to Neville Chamberlain’s capitulation to Hitler.

Unlike liberals, I will honestly report their point before I attack it.

The New York Times editorialized: “Sen. Obama has called for talking with Iran and Syria,” but has not “suggested surrendering to these countries’ demands, which is, after all, what appeasement is.”

“Hardball’s” Chris Matthews gloated all week about nailing a conservative talk radio host with this brilliant riposte: “You don’t understand there’s a difference between talking to the enemy and appeasing. What Neville Chamberlain did wrong … is not talking to Hitler, but giving him half of Czechoslovakia.”

Liberals think all real tyrants ended with Hitler and act as if they would have known all along not to appease him. Next time is always different for people who refuse to learn from history. As Air America’s Mark Green said: “Look, Hitler was Hitler.” (Which, I admit, threw me for a loop: I thought Air America’s position is that Bush is Hitler.)

This is nonsense. Ahmadinejad looks a lot like Hitler did when Chamberlain agreed to meet with him at Munich, except that Hitler didn’t buy his suits from ratty thrift shops. Much of England reacted just as today’s Democrats would because, like today’s Democrats, they feared nothing more than another war. (Lloyd George lied, kids died!)

Lots of Britons cheered when Chamberlain returned from Munich and announced “peace in our time.” Without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, what on earth makes Chris Matthews think he would not be among them?

As Bush said at the Knesset, “There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words.” That was Chamberlain. And that is today’s Democratic Party.

What Matthews and the Times are saying is this: We can have a Munich, but we promise to be tougher than Chamberlain was. Therein lies the flaw in their logic. Yes, in the abstract, it is technically possible to “talk” without giving up Czechoslovakia (or in today’s case, Iraq or Israel).

But in reality, when talking to a lunatic without having first bombed him into submission, the only possible result is appeasement. Any talk with Hitler, or a McHitler like Ahmadinejad, that does not include handing over Czechoslovakia or Israel, like a game show parting gift, is going to be a relatively brief chat.

Churchill knew that before Chamberlain went to Munich. But a lot of Britons then, like a lot of Americans today, refused to see that blindingly obvious point.

And a New York Times op-ed piece on the disastrous Kennedy-Khrushchev negotiation in Vienna:

…Senior American statesmen like George Kennan advised Kennedy not to rush into a high-level meeting, arguing that Khrushchev had engaged in anti-American propaganda and that the issues at hand could as well be addressed by lower-level diplomats. Kennedy’s own secretary of state, Dean Rusk, had argued much the same in a Foreign Affairs article the previous year: “Is it wise to gamble so heavily? Are not these two men who should be kept apart until others have found a sure meeting ground of accommodation between them?”

But Kennedy went ahead, and for two days he was pummeled by the Soviet leader. Despite his eloquence, Kennedy was no match as a sparring partner, and offered only token resistance as Khrushchev lectured him on the hypocrisy of American foreign policy, cautioned America against supporting “old, moribund, reactionary regimes” and asserted that the United States, which had valiantly risen against the British, now stood “against other peoples following its suit.” Khrushchev used the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting to warn Kennedy that his country could not be intimidated and that it was “very unwise” for the United States to surround the Soviet Union with military bases.

Kennedy’s aides convinced the press at the time that behind closed doors the president was performing well, but American diplomats in attendance, including the ambassador to the Soviet Union, later said they were shocked that Kennedy had taken so much abuse. Paul Nitze, the assistant secretary of defense, said the meeting was “just a disaster.” Khrushchev’s aide, after the first day, said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.” Khrushchev agreed, noting that the youthful Kennedy was “too intelligent and too weak.” The Soviet leader left Vienna elated — and with a very low opinion of the leader of the free world.

Kennedy’s assessment of his own performance was no less severe. Only a few minutes after parting with Khrushchev, Kennedy, a World War II veteran, told James Reston of The New York Times that the summit meeting had been the “roughest thing in my life.” Kennedy went on: “He just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. Until we remove those ideas we won’t get anywhere with him.”

A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. Kennedy had resigned himself to it, telling his aides in private that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba. And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna — of Kennedy as ineffective — was among them.

If Barack Obama wants to follow in Kennedy’s footsteps, he should heed the lesson that Kennedy learned in his first year in office: sometimes there is good reason to fear to negotiate.

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