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May 10, 2004

What If? The Perils of Appeasement

Imagine a different Nov. 4, 1979, in Tehran. Shortly after Iranian terrorists storm the American Embassy and take some 90 American hostages, President Carter announces that Islamic fundamentalism is not a legitimate response to the excess of the shah but a new and dangerous fascism that threatens all that liberal society holds dear. And then he issues an ultimatum to Tehran's leaders: Release the captives or face a devastating military response.

Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of the lessons of history:

As long ago as the fourth century B.C., Demosthenes warned how complacency and self-delusion among an affluent and free Athenian people allowed a Macedonian thug like Philip II to end some four centuries of Greek liberty--and in a mere 20 years of creeping aggrandizement down the Greek peninsula. Thereafter, these historical lessons should have been clear to citizens of any liberal society: We must neither presume that comfort and security are our birthrights and are guaranteed without constant sacrifice and vigilance, nor expect that peoples outside the purview of bourgeois liberalism share our commitment to reason, tolerance and enlightened self-interest.
Most important, military deterrence and the willingness to use force against evil in its infancy usually end up, in the terrible arithmetic of war, saving more lives than they cost. All this can be a hard lesson to relearn each generation, especially now that we contend with the sirens of the mall, Oprah and latte. Our affluence and leisure are as antithetical to the use of force as rural life and relative poverty once were catalysts for muscular action. The age-old lure of appeasement--perhaps they will cease with this latest concession, perhaps we provoked our enemies, perhaps demonstrations of our future good intentions will win their approval--was never more evident than in the recent Spanish elections, when an affluent European electorate, reeling from the horrific terrorist attack of 3/11, swept from power the pro-U.S. center-right government on the grounds that the mass murders were more the fault of the United States for dragging Spain into the effort to remove fascists and implant democracy in Iraq than of the primordial al Qaedaist culprits, who long ago promised the Western and Christian Iberians ruin for the Crusades and the Reconquista.

If you don't read anything else today, read this - all of it.

- Cassandra


May 10, 2004 at 08:23 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Cass, you can't say that to the sheeple. It is the truth, and we know they love their Kerryisms. What I find interesting in all of this is that when we went over there, kicked butt and treated them DECENTLY, it woke them up, that we as a nation STAND READY to protect and defend the sweets of liberty.

"for it must needs be that there is opposition in all things..." The price or opposition to peace is to be the watchman on the tower, with a trained and standing army ready to protect a way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Posted by: Cricket at May 10, 2004 10:03:50 AM