Is it Munich all over again?

Pennireef Papers

Is it Munich all over again?

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in 1939 instead of 2009. Although I was only 12 years old I can remember it like yesterday – even better (because I’ve forgotten already what I did yesterday). It was a Saturday morning at the Tivoli. After watching a cowboy movie (black and white of course) and the Zorro serial (with the lovely lady tied to the railroad tracks and the choo-choo train bearing down), the Movie-tone News came on the screen. There were German troops and panzers racing across Poland. World War II had begun the month before and now Russia was attacking from the East.

The year before on September 30, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, had returned from a meeting in Munich waving a meaningless piece of paper signed by der Führer, promising “Peace in our time.” When will we ever learn?

The Munich Agreement was a pact, prior to WWII which forced Czechoslovakia to surrender its SUDETENLAND to Nazi Germany. The Sudetenland, in the southwestern part of Czechoslovakia contained most of the nation’s industry. It was populated by some 700,000 Czechs and 3 million German speaking citizens. There was no regard in those days for Czechs and balances! Reunification of all German speaking people was the pretext for Hitler’s demand for occupation.

Churchill condemned the Munich Agreement and warned, “The notion that peace can be obtained by throwing a small State to the wolves is a fatal delusion.” It made strategic sense to defend Czechoslovakia in 1938. The German army could put barely a dozen trained divisions on the Western Front. The French with nearly seventy divisions could easily have rolled forward across the Rhine or into the Ruhr. But this had all been judged unreasonable, rash, below the level of modern intellectual thought or morality by the progressive liberals of that day.

The Allied policy of easy going placatory appeasement was interpreted by the Austrian paper-hanger as collective weakness. Now in 1939, the two Western Democracies declared themselves ready to stake their lives upon the territorial integrity of Poland. But it was too late. Nazi Germany’s answer was blitzkrieg – lightning war.

The great issue between Churchill and his political contemporaries in Britain during the 1930s had to do with his fundamentally different Weltanschauung (worldview). His beliefs were similar to those of the great Greek historian Thucydides, who had suggested that his purpose in writing a history of the Peloponnesian War was so that “these words of mine [will be] judged useful by those who want to understand clearly the events which happened in the past and which (human nature being what it is) will, at some time or other and in much the same ways, be repeated in the future.”

After Germany’s Anschluss, annexation of Austria, the British government concluded that, according to Lord Halifax, “Czechoslovakia is not worth the bones of a single British grenadier.” In the real world, however, his delay and indecision led to millions of British and American bones returned home in bodybags. Appeasement is never the answer; it is seen as weakness and only emboldens the aggressor to greater crimes.

We may be watching Munich all over again. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has clearly signaled his intentions to destroy Israel and eventually the Great Satan USA. Hitler made his plan known via Mein Kampf (My Fight) in which he outlined his strategy for restoring
Germany’s greatness. Few paid serious attention.

Suffering from a similar anti- Semitic insanity, Ahmadinejad has consistently followed the radical and violent teaching of Islam, calling for a worldwide caliphate to dominate the planet and death to the infidel. To compound this danger, he sees it all in terms of eschatology. According to the Qur’an the Mahdi (their Messiah) must return in the midst of an apocalyptic event, and he is determined to be the nuclear engineer of that event. Ahmadinejad sees himself as the architect of Armageddon. There is no room for negotiation here.

History we are told is mainly the record of crimes, follies and miseries of mankind. Perhaps, but we would have to search exhaustively to find a parallel to the sudden and complete reversal of the American culture and way of life which we have experienced in the first ten months of this year. We are seeing the transformation almost overnight into a readiness to accept an obviously imminent war, or far worse conditions and on the greatest scale imaginable.

Is this the ugly face of “Change” we were promised? Or is it “Munich” all over again?

Bill Bathman – 6 Oct 2009, Mesa, Arizona

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