The following text was written in the Fall 1997:
In 1938, the French Premier Daladier and the British Prime Minister Chamberlain surrendered to the Nazi blackmail (delivered with Mussolini's "mediation") and forced Czechoslovakia to surrender the Sudeten border province to Germany. Coming back to London, Chamberlain said to the cheering crowd: "I believe this is the peace for our time", while Hitler went ahead and took all of Czechoslovakia. It was a cowardly betrayal of the Eastern ally of France by the Western Allies. It was also stupid, as Germany was relatively week militarily and Wehrmacht did not have a chance to penetrate Sudeten fortification, defended by some 30 Czech divisions (especially if France honored her obligations and attacked from the West).
Did it pay? NO!
It increased already significant German industrial potential, sowed doubts about Western allies' political credibility, and emboldened Hitler to invade Poland when her government refused to surrender to the German demands. Thus, World War II can be traced to cowardice and stupidity of Daladier and Chamberlain.
One would expect that such a lesson would be learned well. Not at all.
18 years later, In 1956, the US President Dwight D. Eisenhower surrendered to the Soviet blackmail and joined forces with Nazis and Communists against Britain, France and Israel. This was a cowardly treachery of the only Allies we had at that time -- Britain and France. It was also stupid, since the Soviet Union was much weaker than the US at that time, and it would have never dared to make good on its threats had the US called the bluff.
Did it pay? NO!
I can already hear everyone screaming: "Britain and France behaved like imperialists, American people could not have tolerated Ike's support of them". Well, Americans were quite isolationist in the thirties, which did not prevent Roosevelt from turning US into the "arsenal of democracy". At any rate, it is the duty of the president to go against the public opinion when he sees it necessary for national security. I believe this was a case for such an action.
The story repeated itself 34 years later, in 1990. Saddam Hussein grabbed Kuwait, and the US President George Bush wanted a world-wide coalition to roll him back. To get this coalition, he sold out the only reliable ally the US had in the region - Israel. He promised the Arabs that he will force Israel to surrender strategically important land in exchange for Arab promises to consider a possibility of maybe establishing a temporary truce. Bush got what he wanted. Are we better off now? First of all, note that destroying Israel will not cure all the headaches the West is having with the Arabs. Now, the only leverage the West has against the Arabs is that it can force Israel to surrender. When Israel goes, the leverage goes with it. Trade? Technology? The Arab nations are not democracies, their leaders are rich enough themselves because of the oil and they do not care about the population. Second, the general international support for keeping the sanctions is waning. The history repeats itself yet another time. This time it is the Versailles treaty. Iraq was defeated, but was allowed to keep its national political infrastructure, burdened with sanctions, embargoes, and UN inspectors. The same policy led to the demise of the Weimar Republic. The opposite policy, implemented in Germany after the WWII, namely, the destruction of the political infrastructure through military occupation, together with massive economic recovery program, led to a stable, prosperous, and friendly Germany. Granted, Iraq is not Germany, so the same methods are certainly not applicable, but seeing to it that Saddam is gone before withdrawing the troops in 1991 would probably have been better. But let me drop this 100% hindsight demonstration and return to the present.
Right now, Iraq and its Arab neighbors work in tandem: Iraq makes trouble, US sends the secretary of state to "garner support for the coalition among its Arab members", and the Arabs tell the US that they will support American action only if, and when, the US will force Israel to surrender some more stuff. Arabs have nothing to loose from this game - they know that the US cannot afford loosing face to Iraq, so they are safe in case of Iraqi aggression against them, and anything short of that - who cares?! When Saddam gets a nuclear bomb, he will use it against New York or Tel Aviv, not Er-Riyad or Amman.
We have to wake up. "New World Order", whatever that might mean, cannot dawn upon the world just because the Soviet Union was replaced with a temporarily weak Russia. The world today is little different from what it was ten or twenty years ago, the Gulf War notwithstanding. The Arabs supported Anti-Iraq coalition not because they considered Iraq's behavior unacceptable, but because they were afraid of being the next victim (like Saudi Arabia) or bribed with money and promises to force Israel to surrender (like Egypt).
US can be an honest broker between England and France (if these countries will ever have a dispute requiring a broker). With certain difficulties, it can be a broker between Serbs and Croats (although the recent NATO aggression against Yugoslavia seems to refute even this). But there is not a chance to be a truly honest broker between a democratic ally and dictatorial enemies. Trying to be impartial will alienate, imperil, and, possibly, eventually destroy the ally, while projecting the image of weakness and making the enemies more intransigent than ever.
The moral is: do not sell a friend to please a foe.
|Sam Steingold<email@example.com>||created: Fall 1997|