Peace In Our Time

Neville Chamberlain waving his agreement with Hitler

Neville Chamberlain waving his agreement with Hitler


New York Times Obama groupie Maureen Dowd believes the President has a “superbrain” which produces “amazing insights,” and she predicts that his post-presidential memoir will be ” the most brilliant political memoir outside of Ulysses Grant.” Memo to Modo: Why rank Obama’s as yet unwritten White House masterpiece below that of the Dead White Male Grant?

The real question is not whether he has a super or less-than-super brain, but whether he possesses the knowledge you’d normally expect of an expensively educated (Columbia and Harvard Law School) public figure.

A few have reported on a phrase contained in Obama’s inaugural address that any reasonably knowledgeable person, let alone one with a super brain, would have avoided like the plague:

…America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad. For no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice.

Not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time [my emphasis] requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes; tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice…

Who made the phrase “peace in our time” infamous?: British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who on returning from Munich in 1938 where he had negotiated with Hitler the so-called Munich Agreement which gave Germany the Sudetenland in return for Hitler’s pledge to stop threatening to invade Germany’s neighbors, waved a piece of paper and said, “I have returned from Germany with peace in our time.” Less than a year later, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. Chamberlain’s policy was (approvingly back then) called “appeasement.” And for most of my lifetime Chamberlain, the Munich Agreement and appeasement were considered hard lessons of history, warnings that must be heeded in order to avoid catastrophic future wars.

Nowadays, some consider Obama’s foreign policy of “engagement” to be nothing more than appeasement by another name. But few believe that Obama and his speech writers purposely used the rhetorical embodiment of pre-World War II appeasement. No, it seems clear that neither the speech writers nor the super brain himself understood the ironic meaning of “peace in our time.”

Now if George Bush had said that…

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