Monday, October 07, 2013

Standing alone

British PM Neville Chamberlain said "Herr Hitler is an honorable man," after negotiations with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler in 1938, a year before he started WWII. At the time Chamberlain was pursuing a policy known as "appeasement," essentially giving Hitler what he wanted to appease his appetite. But, as Winston Churchill said, noone ever satisfied a crocodile's appetite by feeding it.

When Germany attacked Poland in Sept 1939, Britain declared war on Germany, and after Germany had rapidly conquered most of continental Europe, Britain stood alone against Germany. It was only the success of the RAF during the "Battle of Britain" in 1940 that staved off the German invasion of Britain and gave time for the subsequent events of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the American equivalent of the Battle of Britain, and the declaration of war by Pres. Roosevelt on Germany that brought the US into the European conflict and eventually saved Britain and the world.

We heard echoes of that situation when Israeli PM Netanyhau addressed the UN last week and declared "Israel, if need be, will act alone," referring to stopping Iran developing a nuclear weapon. He also said that so-called "moderate" Iranian Pesident Hassan Rouhani was a "wolf in sheep's clothing," and he advised the western nations in relation to the strong sanctions against Iran to "distrust and verify." At least noone can criticize Israel for having a policy of appeasement towards Iran. Netanyahu was trying valiently to prevent such a policy by US Pres. Obama and his Administration as well as other western allies. He was partially successful, since Pres. Obama called his skepticism of Rouhani "entirely justifiable," and Secty of State Kerry also again repeated that a change in tone from Iran was not enough to justify removing sanctions. There is of course one major difference between 1938 and now, the presence of Israel with its IDF and IAF. This will make all the difference in the outcome.

But, other persons and organizations were less convinced. "J Street," the left-wing supposedly pro-Israel lobby in the USA, was quite sure that Netanyahu was spoiling a potential resolution of the diplomatic rapprochement between the US and Iran. And The New York Times, quoted negatively in Netanyahu's speech, struck back and accused him of leading the war lobby and trying to get the US involved in another Middle Eastern war, namely with Iran. But, in a Washington focussed on the "shutdown" of the Government, most citizens seemed not to care about this particular spat.


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