The 1930s Redux Posted by: Dale Franks
on Saturday, August 05, 2006
Victor Davis Hanson echoes some thoughts I have been having recently, especially since finishing up one of my occasional re-readings of William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
When I used to read about the 1930s — the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China — I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.
Of course, the trauma of the Great War was all too fresh, and the utopian hopes for the League of Nations were not yet dashed. The Great Depression made the thought of rearmament seem absurd. The connivances of Stalin with Hitler — both satanic, yet sometimes in alliance, sometimes not — could confuse political judgments.
But nevertheless it is still surreal to reread the fantasies of Chamberlain, Daladier, and Pope Pius, or the stump speeches by Charles Lindbergh (“Their [the Jews’] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government”) or Father Coughlin (“Many people are beginning to wonder whom they should fear most — the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.”) — and it is even more baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.
Not any longer.
Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians.
Similarly, I used to find the political activities of the West in the 1930s unfathomable. How could Chamberlain, Daladier, Pulsudki, King Leopold of Belgium, and all the rest, how could they not see the clear and present danger of fascism? How could the French Army, with 45 active divisions, sit fearfully by in 1935 when the Nazis re-occupied the Saar with three battalions? How could Neville Chamberlain, after being lied to repeatedly by Hitler, fly—for the first time in his life—to Munich to grant permission to Hitler to snuff out the national life of Czechoslovakia, then defend it by telling Britons that it was nothing more than a controversy about "a people far away, about whom we know little"? How could the House of Commons, in the aftermath of Munich, try to shout down Winston Churchill when he stood up and said, truthfully, "We have sustained total, unmitigated defeat..."?
The West delayed and temporized. Americans turned out by the thousands at meetings of the German-American Bund, which was little more than a wholly-owned propaganda arm of the Nazi Party. Millions of Americans listened seriously to the stupidities of Charles Lindbergh and Father Coughlin.
All of this served to do little more than to delay the inevitable war that, when it came cost far more in lives and treasure than would have been necessary had it been squelched at the start. And when we finally won, we did so as much through the overweening confidence of our enemies, who over-extended themselves, as we did through our determination to bear any price to win.
I used to think that we had learned the lessons of that time. But, of course, I was wrong.
Just look at the controversy we've talked about over the last week on this blog, about the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, in where civilians have been accidently killed by the Israelis—the intentional targeting of civilians by Hezbollah notwithstanding—and the calculus of moral equivalence that has been repeatedly exhibited.
In the snippet on Detroit station WDIV-TV's "Flashpoint" public affairs show, Dingell was asked, "You're not against Hezbollah?" — the terror group that captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12, setting off the escalating conflict in Israel-Lebanon border.
"No," Dingell replied.
But that was only part of the comment. The clip making the Internet rounds left out Dingell's full statement: "No, I happen to be — I happen to be against violence, I think the United States has to bring resolution to this matter. Now, I condemn Hezbollah as does everybody else, for the violence."
An angry Dingell on Tuesday called attempts to portray him as sympathetic to terrorists "misrepresentation." He said he simply was pointing out that if the United States is to be an honest broker in the Middle East, it must talk to both sides.
You see, he's against violence, so he wants to be an honest broker. Because violence, is, you know, bad.
So, let me see if I understand this. A man breaks into my house and assaults my wife with the intention of raping her. I get my gun, and prepare to shoot him. All of the sudden, Mr. Dingell appears, condemns "the violence" and proposes to act as an honest broker for our negotiations.
I see. And what, precisely am I supposed to negotiate about? What is the shape of our compromise? Perhaps the assailant should be allowed to cop a quick feel, to which I will respond with a minute or two of intemperate language. To merely "condemn the violence" is to be morally blind, unable to make the distinction between preying on the innocent, and punishing the guilty.
In my view, when you break into my house to do violence, you have formally abrogated the right to any compromise. I invoke my right to self defense. Similarly, a la Hezbollah, the only compromise I am willing to make after you've shelled my civilians with rockets, or crashed airplanes into my cities, is to listen to arguments about whether I should set the selector switch on my rifle to "full auto", or "semi".
As an aside, this is also a key failing of the moral argument against capital punishment. I'm perfectly happy to agree that there are a number of practical reasons that make the death penalty a questionable punishment. Without direct evidence that allows us to declare a person's guilt to a moral certainty, there is always the possibility of convicting an innocent person. But to argue that murder and execution are morally the same act is to ignore the fundamental difference between killing the innocent, and killing the guilty.
Sadly, this argument has been with us throughout recorded history. There has always been a pacifist strain of thought that is quick to "condemn the violence". But to my mind, this indiscriminate condemnation of violence per se is, itself, deeply immoral. It denies that we have the responsibility, indeed, the right, to defend ourselves against those who would enslave us, or do us harm. It posits that our responsibility is, in effect, to expose our throat—or the throats of our loved ones—to the blade. And if we fight against those who seek to harm us, then we are as guilty as they are.
Ghandi is always held up as an exemplar of this strain of thought for his courageous campaign of non-violence against the British in India's struggle for independence. The proponents note that its success is a strong argument for Ghandi's philosophy. But to make that argument is to ignore that it was the British, a liberal, democratic, Western society against whom Ghandi contended, and for whom totalitarian methods were unacceptable.
As I've written about before, Harry Turtledove once wrote an intriguing—and short—alternate history story in which the German Army, under Field Marshal Model, overran the Army of India in WWII. In consequence, Gandhi began a campaign of non-violent resistance against the Germans. So, the Herr Feldmarschall simply had Gandhi taken outside and shot.
Dingell was not for or against, before he was for and against
Congressman John Dingell’s recent refusal to “take sides” against Hezbollah is unfortunately consistent with his voting record, which includes voting against a House resolution condemning their attacks. Although Mr. Dingell claims that his critics have taken his comments out of context, the fact is that when asked, “You’re not against Hezbollah?” Dingell answered, “No;” an observation that underscored his earlier comments of not being "not for or against Hezbollah."
No matter how or in what context the Congressman now wants to position his statements, they remain extremely troubling. After responding “no” when asked if he is against Hezbollah, Dingell continued that he was “against violence” and “condemn[s] Hezbollah as does everybody else, for the violence.” Vague denunciations of “the violence,” though, do not excuse his refusal to be counted as an opponent of Hezbollah.
While refusing to denounce Hezbollah, the Congressman insists that he is a steadfast friend of Israel. Once again backtracking from his Sunday comments of "not being for or against Israel" he wrote Tuesday "that during my 50 years in Congress, I have proudly supported more than $300 billion dollars in aid for the State of Israel."
Hezbollah, the organization that Mr. Dingell refuses to denounce is responsible for the deaths of over 300 Americans. In 1983, a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed 241 American servicemen who were in Beirut on a peacekeeping mission. In 2002, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General said, “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” He has also remarked, “There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel.”
And this is the organization that the Congressman insists we must bring to the bargaining table for dialogue and compromise, with the United States acting in the role of an impartial mediator? Apparently, at least according to his most recent proclamations, Mr. Dingell now agrees that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. But if it is, then how can he believe that there is no moral difference between the actions of a democratic nation and those of an international terrorist organization? Does he truly think it is in the interest of the United States to act as a neutral “honest broker” between Israel, which Dingell insists is our steadfast ally, and Hezbollah, which has killed hundreds of Israelis and Americans in terrorist attacks?
John Dingell called his critics an “unprincipled congregation of liars.” It’s dismaying that he would lash out in such a way in response to criticism, especially when his own statements have been are so contradictory and confusing.
The Congressman’s defense of his extraordinary comments is inadequate. He owes us a better explanation.
F. Vincent Vernuccio Vernuccio for Congress Candidate – Michigan 15th Congressional District
Dale, sure, everyone has to defend themselves, but you’re missing some basic points here that collective security is based on, most of them pragmatic. Lacking a world government with a monopoly on the use of force, the unlimited right of any country to "defend itself" against any other country by any means it considers appropriate are a gateway to, essentially, massive global carnage on a scale that no one who lives in America can really appreciate.
The limits of this analogy are quickly demonstrated with another analogy. A man knocks on your door to sell you encylopedias: in doing so he has walked on your lawn, thus trespassing on your private property. You shoot him dead, defending your rights and property - thus, abstractly, your safety. We’re pretending there’s no police in this little town, kind of like there’s no police for nations, so shooting salesmen becomes a popular habit. Of course, commerce dries up like a rock, and you shoot a salesman with some local friends, and they work up a good old mob and storm your house, putting your entire family to death.
It’s to prevent this sort of thing that treaties were developed, as well as the United Nations, republican government, independent media, and all the other checks on unbridled use of unlimited force in "self-defense" that you’re enamored of.
When confronting Nazi Germany, Gandhi’s methods might have been inadequate. On the other hand, the Cedar Revolution forced the withdrawal of Syrian troops just last year, no massive bloodletting required. Then we have the USSR. Sure, we could have defended ourselves with a massive nuclear strike, but we defended ourselves with restraint, and we benefitted from it.
A man knocks on your door to sell you encylopedias: in doing so he has walked on your lawn, thus trespassing on your private property. You shoot him dead, defending your rights and property - thus, abstractly, your safety.
You are not "defending" yourself from an encyclopedia salesman. Nor is shooting encyclopedia salesmen an appropriate response to mild irritation. "Defense" has a limited meaning, viz., protecting yourself from physical harm. Even from Libertarian perspective your analysis is non-sensical, since a violation of property rights by another individual is a matter for adjudication, not violence. Killing someone who has not offered you physical violence is murder.
Your analogy is, therefore, both false and pejorative.
The 1930s were an enormously complicated time. Far too complicated to let the favorite "Munich theme" be a stand-alone item.
1.Many towns in Europe had few men, or few intact men in their late 30s and 40s, such was the slaughter of WWI. The men in power saw an empty void of lost sons, children grew up with the common sight of amputees and gas cripples. Few families were untouched. Few wished for another war.
2.The Global depression hit hard. Only a few countries had not been knocked back on their heels - one was Germany - but Germany suffered an economic catastrophe worse that the Depression in the 20s.
3. Few in the West saw Fascism as the real threat. What concerned the European nations and bourgeosie far more was "Jewish Bolshevikism" - which they already knew had done the mass murder of tens of millions in Soviet Russia by execution or planned famines. And which was being embraced by the intelligensia, and high fear of the spread of bloody revolution by the Communist "transnationals". Mussolini was in fact a former communist that had had rejected it in favor of nationalism and a fascism variant that was directly set up to oppose the Bolshies. Hitler’s NSP was the descendent of the Freikorps that had fought and defeated Rosa Luxemburg’s Spartacists and drew on the politics of those Austro-Hungarians who finally ended Bela Kohen’s (Kun) Communist butchery in Hungary. By 1936, there were concerns that fascism was aggressive and revanchist, but for a good deal of Europe, the mass butchery of the Bolsheviks was the true fear.
4. In the US, the general sentiment was isolationism and the need to avoid entanglement, including well after Munich. The powerful Jewish Left in America had taken heed of Hitler’s anti-Semitism and did have a major media campaign to "Stop Hitler", as opposed to the Christian pacifist Left, which wanted "peace". The Jewish deviation got the isolationist ire directed against them. Then the "magic" of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Agression Pact happened and the American Jewish Left did a complete 180 and argued that since Hitler had made peace with the Communists, their higher loyalty to the communist cause forced them to overlook Hitler to maintain solidarity with the Soviets wisdom and leadership of COMINTERN - and they came down against Lend Lease and other aid to the "colonial Imperialists" - Britain and France. They vehemently opposed any Draft or increase in US defense spending and tried using their clout in the media, finance, and within the FDR Administration to block action against what the Supreme Soviet wished for. Then did a 180 back and were the strongest war proponents once Hitler "betrayed" the Communists, and invaded Russia in June 1941. After that point, the American Jewish Left remained solidly behind the Allied cause.
The 30s were very complicated.
Alliances shifted. Who was the greatest menace was not clear at all. Rather than it being reduced as VDH and others have maintained to the "simplicity" of Munich and "appeasement" - even years after Munich there was nothing simple about global alliances.
The REAL situation in the 1930s, on the other hand, is a good lesson for America today. Were we right not to get distracted by the Spanish Civil War, Italian Etria, the Jap campaign in China? In these days, are we distracted by a minor terrorist enemy, Al Qaeda...when the real foe that must be defeated is Iran? Perhaps N Korea and we have already passed our N Korean "Munich point" and not realized it? Or is the true threat China? And we have shifting internal and external alliances. KSA is our enemy, then back to being our friend. Liberal Jews were solidly for action after NYC was attacked, then shifted into a mode after Iraq - to sabotage the Bushies in any way possible at every oportunity through legal and media organizations they control. Great shifts are underway in the EU. The Christian Left is back to pacifism, and hating Israel, but part of that Left is shifting to evangelical and pentacostal devotion to the extermination of evil Islam. Japan is considering being a military power again. Canada has shifted policy to increase defense spending.
No, Munich wasn’t the 30s. It was a point in time that if it had been decided differently would have just changed the complexities somewhat, and Poland and the nonaggression Pact might have happened anyways and the result of standing up to Hitler might have been he decided NOT to invade Russia - which would have kept the Left in America from supporting the Allies.
Then we have the USSR. Sure, we could have defended ourselves with a massive nuclear strike, but we defended ourselves with restraint, and we benefitted from it.
Well, another poor analogy. We didn’t use nuclear weapons because they did not use them. We did, however vacillate between periods of confronting the USSR and appeasing them. It finally took confrontation to topple them over. Except for the Korean war the UN and all the other bodies of limitation you are so fond of never helped us in the cold war, in fact they helped the communists, the third world despots, and the terrorist groups. As they continue to do to this day.
when the real foe that must be defeated is Iran? Perhaps N Korea and we have already passed our N Korean "Munich point" and not realized it? Or is the true threat China?
Our real enemies are Iran and Saudi Arabia, The Saudi’s export the vileness of Whahabism around the world. China is not a friend, but not an enemy. Since they desire only regional domminimce and are no longer ideologicaly motivated, there is no need to pick a fight with them. They can sometimes be a pain in our side but will not be any more than that.
The main problem is that we have internal enemies and very few allies. We cannot count on the Europeans at all, they are a spent force destined to decay and extermination. From the rise of the nations in the eight century till the end of the twentieth century, it was a pretty good run, but now their race is finished. They lack the will to defend themselves, defend their culture, or to even reproduce. They are totally lost and will cease to exist in their present form in one generation.
Gandhi actually wrote an essay in 1938 on the subject of Hitler in which he advised the Jews to stay in Germany and engage in civil resistance. He was fully aware that Hitler would likely respond to such measures with a masacre of the Jews, and he advized the Jews to accept this result with equanimity:
The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the godfearing death has no terror.
It is not necessary to construct thought exercises or alternate histories, though, to see how Gandhi’s methods would fare against a more fanatical foe than the British. After India won independence from the British, the Hindus and Sikhs faced off against the Muslims in the battle over the partition. Gandhi advised the Hindus and Sikhs to remain in Pakistan (even to RETURN to Pakistan if they had fled) and accept death cheerfully at the hands of the Muslims.
The neo neocon blog quotes Dr. Koenraad Elst, a Belgian scholar on India:
In most of these cases, Gandhi’s mistake was not his pacifism per se...The Khilafat pogroms revealed one of the real problems with his pacifism: all while riding a high horse and imposing strict conformity with the pacifist principle, he indirectly provoked far more violence than was in his power to control.
The resulting massacres killed a million or more people. I like the summation provided by the blogger:
There is an ancient Talmudic saying: "He who is kind to the cruel ends up being cruel to the kind."
Aldo the link didn’t work, kept taking me back to QandO. Did type in the link to find info. I still don’t know if he would have acually lead any protestors in front of the German Army. Idealism and reality do meet, he was shot dead.
My analogy is false and pejorative, eh? Well, it’s not a perfect equivalent of the current situation, of course - that’s why it’s an analogy. Analogies are not known for being an exact equivalent of the situation they describe. Another thing you could call it is a *parable*, attempting to demonstrate for you the mechanism by which you exercising your right, and everyone else exercising what they consider to be their rights, nevertheless does not produce a beneficial outcome. This is called a "collective action problem". Collective action problems are, of course, the reason why both anarchy and libertarianism somehow never get chosen as a system of governance in the world despite sounding so darned attractive.
To dive right into the heart of the matter, there’s no such thing as a *right* in any divine, inherent, supraordinate sense - your rights are whatever you can take for yourself, and just because any given moral, ideological, or religious system has assigned and deliniated a particular set of rights, doesn’t make such rights occur. Such rights exist only as any given individual and/or the system as a whole continues to tolerate them. And the system as a whole tolerates them only when their conseuqences do not adversely affect the system.
With me so far?
So, as for this: Even from Libertarian perspective your analysis is non-sensical, since a violation of property rights by another individual is a matter for adjudication, not violence. Killing someone who has not offered you physical violence is murder.
Sure,absolutely. My example wasn’t interested in describing libertarianism. It was interested in describing a set of conceivable rights that don’t work for the system. But my larger point is that, when it comes to geopolitics, nobody gives a darn about rights. Oh, NGO’s and citizens and lawyers and bureaucrats and even president use various concepts of *rights* - and then discard them when doing so will make broken things work. Geopolitics do not operative on a libertarian belief system, or any other system. International law is the closest we come to any such system, and frankly, international law is bent like a pretzel by anyone who can get away with doing so. Because there’s no world policeman. Global politics, when it comes to actual resolution of actual disputes, is often dealt with by the following principle: "what solves the problem?" The *rights* involved are whatever everyone involved is willing to demand or put up with.
But that’s okay, because your argument isn’t really being driven by principles - you may be offended by a sense of principles being violated, but the meat of your post, the center of gravity, is the outcomes that await us because of our actions - i.e., here we are in the 1930’s again, soon the red tide will arrive and drown us in blood because of all the weak, namby-pamby appeasears and their calls for restraint. *That’s* the reason why unspecified parties should just be left to do unspecified things to unspecified islamofascists. Right? Because otherwise, they’re going to kick our butts, right?
Well, fine. To which I reply: The picture you draw is not derived from rigorous analysis and objective assessment. It’s drawn from, basically, emotional extrapolation. Rigorous analysis is good for both winning wars, and avoiding the need for them. Emotional extrapolation is good for stirring sh*t up and f*cking them up once they’ve been stirred up, and that’s about it.
For example, if you want to apply your right of infinite lethal self-defense against any ethnic group that’s ever used terrorist tactics or slaughtered civilians for the joy of it, then Israel shouldn’t even exist. Exterminate the Irish, depopulate the Basques, finish off the native americans. Depopulation of the United States of America can be justified by the My Lai Massacre. Hell, you could make a convincing case for exterminating every nation-state and ethnic group on the planet.
Obviously, the global system prefers restraint and rehabilitation when possible. As does our national one...
In most of these cases, Gandhi’s mistake was not his pacifism per se...The Khilafat pogroms revealed one of the real problems with his pacifism: all while riding a high horse and imposing strict conformity with the pacifist principle, he indirectly provoked far more violence than was in his power to control.
The resulting massacres killed a million or more people.
This isn’t a fair test of the Ghandian method, nor a fair desription of what happened in India. There was no ethnic group using Ghandian methods of non-violent civil disobedience in the India/Pakistan split. What there was were a lot of people using Dale’s right to reciprocal infinite self-defense - which led to indiscriminate reciprocal massacring of Muslims by Hinds and Hindus by Muslims
We’ll never know if that could have been avoided had Ghandi himself had the neccesary level of devotion and control to exercise his system.
I think it’s fair to say that the system only works in situations where some form of law applies, but it’s not limited to alledgely squeamish British. The Cedar Revolution is a demonstration of the Ghandian method working against very unsqueamish people.
I’m with Achillea on Lebanon. And Glasnost please not that Hariri was BLOWQN UP BY THE SYRIANS and a nuber of car bombs emplaced by Syrian supporters, (Hezbollah) to point out that Syria didn’t approve of the Revolution and that the Revolution might "dissolve" into a civil war without the presence of their troops. So no Syria didn’t just go gently and now Hezbollah may RESTORE Syrian influence.
And as a counter-point you might ask the Czech’s, Glasnost, what heppened to them when they opposed, non-violently, the USSR in 1968. The invasion went on unhindered and they stayed under the Soviet boot heel for 20-22 years.
I still don’t get why the international left of the 30’s has to be called the jewish left, they were a small if disproportionately represented part of the left, but I’ll drop it.
Why? Because you brought up a lot of good points about the 1930’s and it applies to a post I am formulating at the moment. I may even plagiarize you if you don’t mind. I don’t think they change the thrust of Dale’s post, but I do think your points say a lot about how we view the past as more deterministic and obvious in hindsight. I guess I am thinking of Mona’s post at inactivist on libertarians and the Iraq war, though I have been working on the idea for quite a while. Anyway, I think we are missing a lot of lessons from the 30’s, and what they tell us about how we can evaluate or decide on foreign policy is uncomfortable.
Lance, if you read again, I had the Left split into 3 entities. Christian Left, Jewish Left, and perhaps not so clearly, the secular/pacifist Left. The Jewish Left is interesting because they were protesting against Hitler in the mid-30s, then actively opposed the US helping Britain and France up once Mother Russia and the Revolution signed a peace Pact with the Nazis due to their core communist loyalties, then flipped again and urged US involvement once Hitler invaded the USSR. The Christian Left were pacifists on Hitler, but argued for "sanctions" against Japan because of Luce, Pearl Buck, and the plight of missionaries, then changed position once we were attacked and thought war was the Christian thing to do.
The secular pacifists I find absolutely understandable. Vietnam wounded America, but Vietnam was absolutely pissant compared to the carnage of WWI on Europeans. Whole cohorts of villages and towns young men were lost. In France, Russia, Germany, the UK. Every damn one of them! 58,000 in all of Vietnam was all of one day’s slaughter on the Somme. And the idea was to step up to another continental war...against a man who was proclaiming he would keep the mass murdering Bolsheviks at bay...who along with Mussolini, a reformed former Communist — had Germany and Italy on the road to recovery??
There was no great will to stop Hitler. Especially when he was the reason the butchering Bolsheviks couldn’t spread West. WWI was a horrendous psychological scar. Look at the US. We were too discouraged to do Vietnam II to save a million Cambodians from genocide. We had no intent of invading Iran to save Jimmah’s "hostage friends of all Americans". At the time, other than to the Jews pre-Ribbentrop-Molotov and to some Tories - Munich!! meant nothing. It was like crying Cambodia! Invade or it’s Appeasement! In 1975.
I’m with Achillea and Joe on the Cedar revolution.
The proponents note that its success is a strong argument for Ghandi’s philosophy.
These proponents generally brush aside the contribution of the most recent armed rebellion, the Indian National army that fought WW2 as Japanese allies. Also the Americans were thereabouts waving Lend/Lease agreements and politely suggesting that Empire was a bad look. And WW2 may have played some part in modifying British views on large scale troop deployment.
This whole argument, and Hansen’s article, is a bit of a strawman. Very few American liberals think Islamist terrorism is "not a threat." And virtually nobody in the United States actually supports the goals of Islamist terrorists - in the 1930s the German American Bund actually supported Hitler; they didn’t just oppose any sort of war against him.
The issue here is one of strategy: how do we approach Islamist terrorism. And from whence does the threat arise? Is it mostly from state sponsors, as neo-cons argue? Or is it mostly from non-state actors who thrive in the midst of failed states, as liberals argue? Taking the pure partisans and pure pacifists aside, most liberal who opposed the Iraq invasion did so because they feared it would a) lead to a failed state in Iraq and a breeding ground for terrorists, and b) draw resources from a fragile state in Afghanistan that could easily slip back into failed statehood as it did in 1992-96. These are not the arguments of "appeasers" or people who can’t tell the difference between Israel’s right to self-defense and Hezbollah sending missiles at civilian populations. In fact, the greatest criticism of Israel from liberals is not that Israel is needlessly attacking civilians, but that it’s attacking so many non-Hezbollah targets within Lebanon so as to render the pro-western government ineffective. Liberals are mad with Israel for it’s stupidity, not its willingness to go to war. Can anybody really say what Israel’s strategy is at this point? Most Israelis don’t seem to know either.
In these days, are we distracted by a minor terrorist enemy, Al Qaeda...when the real foe that must be defeated is Iran? Perhaps N Korea and we have already passed our N Korean "Munich point" and not realized it? Or is the true threat China? C. Ford
North Korea is dangerous, but its day is passing. The Middle East and Islam represent our primary threat. That includes Al Quada, Iran, Syria, and so on, and once included Saddam’s Iraq and Talaban Afganistan.
There are quite a few Muslim Americans who support Islamic terrorism, just as the Bunds were typically Americans of German desent. But this time around, the wacky left does support Islamic terrorism: see zombie’s photo blog or read some of Ward Churchil’s stuff.
Frankly, it seems clear to me that the real issue is a clash of cultures with Islam. In other words, not just state sponsers and not just individual actors. But this isn’t something that the President should be saying for reasons of realpolitic.