The Boys Who Cried "Munich"

I shit you not. ||| Breitbart.comBreitbart.comWas it really only 55 days ago that the world—including the part inhabited by Republicans—rolled its collective eyes at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry bizarrely mischaracterizing the decision whether or not to bomb the regime in Syria as our latest "Munich moment," referencing the deservedly infamous 1938 Neville Chamberlain/Edouard Daladier hand-over of Western Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler without Czech input and despite the fact that Paris was a military ally of Prague? Go ahead, watch Kerry haunt our consciences with the warning that the eventual outcome of the August/September Damascus deliberations would amount to "appeasement":

As conservative Rod Dreher asked at the time,

If American cruise missiles don't fly into Damascus, will Assad annex the Mideast equivalent of the Sudentenland? I am aware that he is a nasty piece of work, but I am not aware that he is an expansionist whose desires for Syrian lebensraum threatens America's vital interests.

Not even two months later, Munich is back with a vengeance, and this time it's conservatives leading the charge against the six-country deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

I'm sure she thought temporarily lifting economic sanctions from Iran was worse than letting Hitler swallow her homeland. ||| WikipediaWikipediaIn The Wall Street Journal, uber-hawk Bret Stephens declared the agreement somehow "Worse Than Munich," based on a sliding scale that takes into consideration the comparative weakness of Britain and France. (As long as we're doing historical comps here, it's worth noting that 2013 Iran is to 1938 Germany what a flea is to a Tyrannosaurus Rex.) You can calibrate Stephens's precise level of foreign policy seriousness with this passage:

After World War II the U.S. created a global system of security alliances to prevent the kind of foreign policy freelancing that is again becoming rampant in the Middle East. It worked until President Obama decided in his wisdom to throw it away.

Over at Breitbart.com, Ben Shapiro also produces a "Worse Than Munich" verdict, which suggests that the next Mideast crisis two months from now will generate such interventionist headlines as "Twice As Bad as Munich," or for the space-conscious, perhaps "Munich Cubed." Here’s Shapiro's Shaperiousness:

[I]n truth, the west's appeasement of Iran is significantly worse than its appeasement of Hitler in 1938, for a variety of reasons. First, as of 1938, Hitler had not yet made clear his plans to exterminate European Jewry. He was still attempting to ship European Jews out of Europe; the Final Solution was not formally adopted until 1941. Iran has made clear its desire to wipe Israel off the map. Its current leader, supposed moderate Hassan Rouhani, has refused to acknowledge the Holocaust as historically accurate, participated in a rally calling for Israel's destruction, and according to Iranian press reports, stated, "The Zionist regime is a wound that has sat on the body of the Muslim world for years and needs to be removed." Yet the Obama administration wants to pretend he is a moderate.

Sure, Hitler demanded—successfully!—that whole swaths of other countries be ceded to him without their consent, and yes, if Iran tried that with a neighbor it would be blown to smithereens by history's most powerful military, but that Rouhani character participated in a rally!

This illustration is more intellectually serious than the blockquoted text to its left. |||Heritage Foundation foreign policy VP James Carafano headlines his National Review objection as "Munich II." Watch Carafano's tank think:

The British think the deal with Iran makes sense. Then, again, it was a British government that believed Munich meant we could all get a good night's sleep now.

The Russians laud the deal. But it was a government in Moscow that believed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact solved all its problems.

Our White House likes this deal. But, our White House also thinks its policies in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and Syria have been just super.

I happened to be on The Blaze network with Carafano the other week talking about this very subject (he sincerely believes we're heading for a nuclear winter in the Middle East), and I had the chance to ask him: OK, President Carafano, what would YOU do to more boldly confront this situation? His answer? Give sanctions more time to work. While I appreciate an answer that doesn't involve immediate U.S. bombardment, the Hitler analogy begs the question: If Nazis they truly be, how can anything be appropriate short of war?

Establishmentarian hawk Charles Krauthammer engages in neither grade inflation nor apples-to-apples comparison; instead, simply "It is the worst deal since Munich." 

Of course, it is no such thing. The Yalta Conference of 1945 consigned a whole half-continent to subjugation under an evil communist empire, and American diplomats have been apologizing ever since. Agreeing to temporarily lift economic sanctions on a single country is not within the same moral time zone as sentencing entire nations to a half-century of abject misery. 

More Munich/Chamberlain/appeasement talk from Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), William Kristol, John Bolton, Cal Thomas, Daniel Pipes, and Beverly Hills Courier Publisher Clif "One F" Smith. More historical Reason pushback on the analogy, and the unsound places it has taken U.S. foreign policy, here.

Ach, yo. ||| Radio PragueRadio PragueBad historical analogies do not convert the targets of their criticism to good international decisions. But they do suggest an intellectual rot among those who are once again banging the drums for preventative Middle Eastern war. All recent history points to treating their most recent claims with a prophylactic skepticism, and recognizing their go-to analogy as a crude, ahistorical gimmick to escalate military confrontation.

Bonus cinematic history trivia: Did you know that the great Czech movie director Miloš Forman was this close to making a French-financed film about the ill-fated agreement, titled The Ghost of Munich, with a screenplay co-writing credit by Václav Havel himself? Alas, the 2008 financial crisis doomed the thing.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Can hyper-ventilating "conservatives" turn virtuous libertarians into reluctant Obama supporters for a day? Believe it!

  • WTF||

    You misspelled your name again.

  • Atanarjuat||

    This particular policy aside, I'll support anyone when they're right. I give Obama credit (regardless of his motive) for cancelling the Constellation boondoggle.

    Also, you come off as a smug douche.

  • WTF||

    Also, you come off as a smug douche.

    There's a really good reason for that.

  • ||

    Maybe if someone held a gun to my head and said you have to support either "hyper-ventilating conservatives" or "Obama."

  • Jon Lester||

    I think we have plenty of days when we can all agree that Ben Shapiro is an idiot.

  • wareagle||

    how is this deal anything but appeasement? If you want to say Iran, or any nation, has some right to whatever weapon it can produce, then just say that and at least be honest about it. But don't come back with this shit sandwich in which Iran gives up nothing and pretend that some sort of forward diplomacy has been committed.

  • Gweskoyen||

    Iran doesn't want any nuclear weapons.

  • wareagle||

    right...And Obama loves Repubs.

  • ||

    And my dogs dont want the bacon I just cooked.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Iran gave up the idea of selling oil for something other than dollars.

    That was the real driver of this deal.

  • Drake||

    Yep - Here is a pretend accomplishment for them to brag about and distract with.

    I have mixed feelings about whether or not we should be trying to stop their nuke program. But let's not pretend this deal does anything - Iran even gets to fix the centrifuges we messed up with Suxnet. It's an excuse to just stop dealing with Iran because they have failed so badly so far.

    http://www.softgreenglow.com/w.....v6rko1.png

  • ||

    "If you want to say Iran, or any nation, has some right to whatever weapon it can produce, then just say that."

    Okay.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Isn't Ben Shapiro the one who blamed the Obamacare website troubles on cyberwarfare conducted by the perfidious Rus and inscrutable China-man?

  • Atanarjuat||

    inscrutable China-man

    A hot Facebook friend (of Vietnamese descent) wrote about a Chinese guy who hit on her..."bla, bla, bla, my name is Ching Chong or some shit"

  • Jordan||

    A hot Facebook friend (of Vietnamese descent)

    I'm gonna need pics. You know, to verify your story. Yes, that's it.

  • Atanarjuat||

  • Jordan||

    Wow, I was just kidding. Thank you sir.

  • Atanarjuat||

    She'd be glad for the exposure.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Are you color blind? That dress is obviously violet, not blue. If the lighting distorts then possibly it could be called periwinkle.

  • Atanarjuat||

    color blind

    No, just hungover and male (=infinitesimally smaller lexicon of color names). After I posted that I thought, "No wait, it's purple."

  • MSimon||

    Well it depends. Will Iran be making nuke bombs in a year or so? Or not?

    But I'm all for any deal that enhances the finances of a terror sponsoring nation. The fact that Iran wants to nuke Israel when they get a bomb is just a bonus. And the fact that the Saudis are nuking up is a huge added bonus. Not to mention their giving money to Pakistan for the nukes.

    Barry has done a great job on this deal. As he has done with every other thing he has endeavored.

  • Gweskoyen||

    I wonder how many amateur hawks know that Saudi Arabia is a US ally against Iran. Or do they think all Muslims are the same?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Saudi Arabia is a US ally against Iran.

    Not for long, if we keep this shit up. I think it was Prince Bandar who made the remark that for the first time in history the interests of the Saudis (and of course, we all know that means "the House of Sa'ud") and that of the Israelis match up perfectly.

    Not that our "friends", the Saudis, don't have distasteful connections to religiously motivated murder around the world as well. (cf. the Southern Thai Insurgency, for just one example)

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The Sauds won't break with the US but they probably will go nuclear if Iran does.

    Which is even more dangerous than Iran getting the bomb because there are bat shit crazy relegious fanatics in the house of saud that would give nukes to terrorist if they had them.

  • Cytotoxic||

    SA is about a good an ally as Steve Ballmer is a CEO.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Oh please! It's not like Iran is a theocracy that is ruled by zealots who believe without question that their savior will arise when the world is plunged into geopolitical turmoil; not to mention that their beliefs about the end-times disturbingly match the effects of large-scale nuclear war.

    Oh, shit. Nevermind.

  • ||

    I dont have enough experience with them directly to say, but this voice in the back of my head keeps mumbling something about amoral, psychopathic, power mongers who use cynical ploys with religion and politics to keep their hold on power.

    I wonder how much of that they really believe and how much is posturing for the superstitious masses.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That's the problem that the West has when dealing with religious fanatics. Deep down, we just can't believe that they believe the crazy shit that they repeat, let alone that they will act on it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Indeed. Sam Harris makes the good point that when we scratch our heads about how a Pakistani neuroscientist or an Egyptian physician vaporizes themselves in hopes of 72 virgins, maybe...just maybe we should take them on their word as to their motivations.

    If you're short on time, ship to 1:45

  • Rich||

    Another aspect of this stuff (which Harris alludes to) is that a "philosophical idea", however wild, somehow becomes acceptable when its adherents invoke a deity in accordance with it.

  • ||

    Yeah, I read Harris and he does make a good point.

    I just keep comparing them to televangelists here. They say outrageous absurdities and people bow and scrape and send money by the truckloads. They have to be some of the most jaded people on the planet.

    But Harris's point is that we dont have televangelists blowing themselves up in schoolyards.

    Thanks for crushing the minuscule flicker of optimism I had.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    What is wrong with you? No one, and I mean No. One. Can become head of state of anything other than the smallest village without being a rational actor. That the slavers on the other side of the world have different (crazier) religious beliefs is not a factor. You cannot gain and hold political power by acting irrationally. (Some would say that this is true by definition: if it aids in gaining or keeping power, it is rational.) These people are not crazy. You just don't understand them, probably because you watch Fox or read NYT/WaPo, when you should be reading Foreign Policy or Foreign Affairs.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Political leaders of any stripe in any country are about as devout as Bush 43 is/was. Does anyone really think GWB is REALLY born again? Ask Doug Wead (recently of the Ron Paul campaign) what he saw when Poppy (Bush 41) ran.

  • Rich||

    Kerry's prosodics really suck in that video. He seems to be seeing for the first time a speech someone else wrote.

  • KDN||

    Sure, Hitler demanded—successfully!—that whole swaths of other countries be ceded to him without their consent, and yes, if Iran tried that with a neighbor it would be blown to smithereens by history's most powerful military, but that Rouhani character participated in a rally!

    You know who else participated in a rally?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The Pens, last night, but alas to no avail. (Well, a single point avail.)

  • KDN||

    The Devils certainly didn't, against the shitty Jets no less. At least I didn't have to pay for my ticket.

  • Ted S.||

  • Brian D||

    Tom Brady?

  • sarcasmic||

    Tea Party?

  • dinkster||

    Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope?

  • ||

    The real Munich moment, of course, was when Reason launched these Taboola ads.

  • Gweskoyen||

    Adblock is your friend.

  • ||

    Except on the iPad.

  • Gene||

    I guess they won't need as much from us in the upcoming donation drive.

  • ||

    No shit.

    I hope they are making a ton of money off of it to make the burning in my eyes worthwhile.

    Acne? Asparagus? Football foods? Huffpuff and checkout line grade advertising.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't want to click on it. Someone tell me what the 13 gifts are for teens who hate everything.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The Yalta agreement recognized reality on the ground in Eastern Europe and wasn't deal at all. Unless, that is, you accept late war Nazi propaganda that the US and Russia would continue fighting each other as soon as the Germans were eliminated.

  • Cytotoxic||

    America should have used a nuke on Moscow to change those realities.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Not sure what to make of this. While I concede the comparisons to Munich are idiotic, I have no trust in the wisdom of Kerry or Obama to make a sensible deal that leads to a more peaceful ME and a less engaged US. The status quo in the ME is awful and as our energy needs have changed there's less need for us to act as hegemony, but the disquiet of both the Israelis and the Saudis is concerning. The question is: has Iran enhanced it's ability to both produce a nuke and seed Hezbollah and other like groups?

    Presidents on a bi-partisan basis have spent decades ratcheting up sanctions and pressure on Iran, and Iran was suffering tremendously under sanctions. Was that strategy a success or a failure? Was it worthwhile? What's the goal, basically?

    I don't see a clearly articulated foreign policy coming from Obama - it seems ad hoc and both he and Kerry seem desperate for an accomplishment.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    What's the goal, basically?

    Obama's legacy. One need not be a Daniel Dennett "greedy reductionist" to see that every single policy the Obama administration has perused revolves around the vanity of one Barack Hussein Obama II, who, in his mind's eye, has lived his entire adult life running from the gangly, awkward, stoner with racial identity and daddy issues that he was in his youth.

    The above also serves as the Cliff's Notes version of Dreams of My Father, just saying/

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Conspiracy theory of the week [adjusts foil hat]:

    Obama wants Iran to get the bomb in oct 2014 because he thinks that it will produce a rally around the president effect helping the donks in the mid terms. And he thinks that a nuke Iran won't threaten peace anyway.

  • ||

    I really dont see that as very far fetched.

    If you had told me ten years ago that an american president would supply guns to criminals in the hope that rising gun violence would spur a desire for gun control measures with the public I would have said you were nuts.

    I would not put anything past this shitweasel.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    But what should our (the USofA) goal(s) be regarding the ME?

    Peace (lack of armed conflict)
    Removing US troops
    Energy security (becoming less relevant)
    Disengagement (for the US at some level)
    Stability
    Preventing power vacuum from being filled by strategic competitors (China and Russia)

    How do we get there?

    I don't see Obama and Kerry constructing a coherent strategy or define priorities, goals, and means.

    Those are the kinds of questions I want addressed by the idiot pundits. Just another example of the incompetence at all levels (as far as I can detect) of the "elite" foreign policy types as well as media.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Great point. The only voice presenting a non-status quo option in recent memory was Ron Paul's.

  • ||

    You mean desperate for a distraction.

    Last night, on three channels, I saw angry people telling first-hand stories about how they have been raped by obamacare.

  • ||

    I was listening to progressive radio on my morning drive yesterday (always good for a laugh). The guest was dithyrambic about this deal, and I was marveling at his ability to gush praise with Obama's cock so far down his throat. The softball-tossing host asked why the Israelis were so negative about the deal. The guest responded that they didn't yet understand that this was in their best interest, that this deal would make them and the rest of the Middle East much safer. "They need to realize that this deal opens the door to a final solution!"

    That had me amused the rest of the day.

  • ||

    Whut?

    Those sound like the ramblings of the insane. In no way does that align with reality.....

    Oh, you said progressive radio show.

    Nevermind.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The guest responded that they didn't yet understand that this was in their best interest

    That's pretty much the progressive's response to any criticism (well other than racism!!)

  • KDN||

    "They need to realize that this deal opens the door to a final solution!"

    Yeah, I think that's exactly what they're worried about.

  • ||

    "They need to realize that this deal opens the door to a final solution!"

    You know who else opened the door to a final solution?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    "They need to realize that this deal opens the door to a final solution!"

    Oh no he didn't!

  • Atanarjuat||

    Prosodics? Dithyrambic? You guys have great vocabularies.

  • SugarFree||

    Buttnugget.

  • ||

    I managed to work in an oral sex reference, so that balances things.

  • ||

    "......yes, if Iran tried that with a neighbor it would be blown to smithereens by history's most powerful military, but that Rouhani character participated in a rally!"

    Matt, I should point out that if Iran gets the bomb and a feasible means of delivery, the rules of that game will be quite different.

  • widget||

    It's always the Germans, but never the Japanese. Why is that?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Lacism!

  • John||

    Good point. The US emboldened the hell out of the Japanese in the 1920s allowing them to rape Korea.

  • Technomad||

    Actually, we sold the Koreans down the river far earlier than that. Around 1905 as part of the deal that ended the Russo-Japanese war.

  • John||

    Iran will just be blown to smithereens by that military Reason would like to see cut to the point of nonexistence and the use of which Reason would never support under any circumstances absent physical invasion and maybe not even then.

    There isn't any deal with any country that Reason wouldn't support. They are just as bad as the worst hawks and have even less credibility since circumstances occasionally prove the even the worst hawk right. Maybe this is a good deal. Maybe Iran getting the bomb isn't a bad thing. Maybe they really don't want the bomb. Who knows. But one thing I do know is that no act of cowardice no matter how craven and no amount of weakness on the US part will ever be enough to satisfy Reason and Reason will never support any action against a foreign nation no matter how justified. Everything Reason writes about these subjects is just an exercise in situational logic to get to those desired ends.

  • sarcasmic||

    Straw men are made of straw, Red Tony.

  • John||

    Be quiet. The adults are talking.

  • sarcasmic||

    Really? All I see is a conservative stroking his war-boner as he makes blanket straw man statements about a magazine that is kind enough to let him spout his bullshit on their site.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Strawman, war-boner, red tony-and sarc's out of tricks.

  • Mongo||

    John, you win wars and conflicts with brains, not by puffing yer chest and gettin' buzz-cuts.

  • John||

    Sure you do. And I don't think we should bomb Iran. I don't we could stop them from getting the bomb with anything short of invasion, which we are not going to do. Further, as we proved with Stuxnet, there are other ways of stopping them.

    That said, Reason never has anything interesting or smart to say about these subjects. They never have a coherent position or provide an answer to even the basic questions confronting the country. There is no reason to take them seriously about these issues because they clearly don't take the issues seriously themselves.

  • sarcasmic||

    Reason is mocking the comparison of this to Munich. If you hear a *whoosh* noise it's the sound of the point going right over your head.

  • Dave Krueger||

    Shapiro: "Iran has made clear its desire to wipe Israel off the map."

    Or at least return the land back to the Palestinians and probably restoring its original name. You know, Palestine.

  • ||

    "Original"? I think you're a bit definitionally dense.

  • ||

  • Drake||

    Right after you give your house to American Indians, restore Prussia to the Germans, Karelia to Finland, and return the the third of Poland annexed by Russia after WW2, we can talk about righting other historical "wrongs".

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Don't you mean Canaan?

  • A Frayed Knot||

    Let me guess, you're Sheldon Richman's sockpuppet, aren't you.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    The actual translation is "One day this [Israeli] regime will be gone from the pages of history." The "wiped off the map" metaphor does not exist in their language.

  • Mongo||

    Did you know that the great Czech movie director Miloš Forman was this close to making a French-financed film about the ill-fated agreement, titled The Ghost of Munich, with a screenplay co-writing credit by Václav Havel himself?

    Co-starring Ben Stiller in a rubber Mussolini suit.

  • ||

    SANCTIONS!

    The problem with all of this is that it assumes economic sanctions have a positive effect. This has not been shown to my satisfaction.

  • Jon Lester||

    I'd like to think that the mature nations of the world can now start to walk away from a region of pointless theocratic conflict. That may be many years away, but hopefully we'll soon reach a point when evangelicals can't win elections anymore.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The comparisons to Munich are stupid and the quoted articles reek of brain-death, but that doesn't make this deal any better. It sucks. I don't really care because I know deals with Iran are as much a waste of time as they are with North Korea. I'm mostly filled with ennui regarding it but I'm actually quite pleased at the change in the attitudes of the Israeli public and the increased possibility they and the Sauds will bomb Iran. Oh and anything to throw the Sauds under the bus.

  • Robert||

    But...how bad was Munich? How much better a possible deal might've been in the offing then? What evidence is there that things would've gone better without Munich?

    Hitler's opinion thru the rest of his life was that Munich had been a bad deal for his regime, though his judgment on such matters was probably not the best.

    So "worst deal since Munich" may not be saying much!

  • Winston||

    Hitler's opinion thru the rest of his life was that Munich had been a bad deal for his regime

    Pretty sure that was because he didn't get his chance to go to war with Czechoslovakia.

  • Michael Hihn||

    2013 Iran is to 1938 Germany what a flea is to a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

    The war mongers should of course be ignored, but the hysteria seems to have infected both sides. Fleas don't develop nuclear weapons.

  • Jerry Baustian||

    The issue is not war or no war. It is whether the Obama administration is serious about preventing Iran from obtaining an offensive nuclear capability, which in the hands of the mullahs almost certainly means eventual nuclear war.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Nah. The real issue is why are some demanding even military action to ... defend Israel as the sole nuclear power in the area. A real peacekeeper would de-nuke the entire Mideast (for openers). Instead we again act as Al Qaeda recruiters.

    We stuck our nose into the war between Japan and China and suffered Pearl Harbor. We stuck our nose into the Mideast and suffered 9/11.

    The militant self-righteous.

  • ||

    Aren't libertarians big on property rights? I've always had issues when countries vote and decide to "freeze" another country's assets because of a desire to impose a political outcome on a country. It's their money. Isn't it the Libertarian POV that we should end the embargo on Cuba and not use commercial trade as a political weapon?

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    ^This!^

    From an operant conditioning standpoint, when the subject engages in desired behavior, like, for instance, free market commercial activity, you REINFORCE. When they engage in undesired, statist/tyrannical behavior, you punish.

  • Kenner||

    From the story you've written, my impression is that you don't think what Sec of State Kerry and the Obama Admin are doing is appeasing the Iranians.

    You should have put "your" definition of appeasement at the beginning of the story so we all could read the story through your "glasses".

    Simple Google search of the word Appeasement which easily matches what the US has done from every story that I have read about this "deal".

    Appeasement in a political context, is a diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to a enemy power in order to avoid a threatened conflict.

    Websters
    : to make (someone) pleased or less angry by giving or saying something desired

    : to make (a pain, a problem, etc.) less painful or troubling

    : pacify, conciliate; especially : to buy off (an aggressor) by concessions usually at the sacrifice of principles

  • Controse||

    A flea with a nuclear bomb. A flea that has repeatedly vowed to destroy Israel. A flea backed by centuries of hatred for half of the Muslim world with a nuclear bomb . This deal make Munich look like child's play if you are a Jew or a Sunni living in the Middle East.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Fearmonger much?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement