History, contrary to popular belief, does not really repeat itself… sadly, however, it frequently rhymes.
Back in 1938 on this date, Neville Chamberlain, returning from Munich, proclaimed that this meeting had produced “peace in our times.” Now, President Obama, when not traveling to Copenhagen to collect accolades, continues in this grand tradition, believing that talking with tyrants, making concessions to dictators, can bear fruit.
Chamberlain defended his appeasement in a speech before Parliament:
“The first is this: We did not go there to decide whether the predominantly German areas in the Sudetenland should be passed over to the German Reich. That had been decided already. Czechoslovakia had accepted the Anglo-French proposals. What we had to consider was the method, the conditions and the time of the transfer of the territory. The second point to remember is that time was one of the essential factors. All the elements were present on the spot for the outbreak of a conflict which might have precipitated the catastrophe. We had populations inflamed to a high degree; we had extremists on both sides ready to work up and provoke incidents; we had considerable quantities of arms which were by no means confined to regularly organised forces. Therefore, it was essential that we should quickly reach a conclusion, so that this painful and difficult operation of transfer might be carried out at the earliest possible moment and concluded as soon as was consistent, with orderly procedure, in order that we might avoid the possibility of something that might have rendered all our attempts at peaceful solution useless. . . .
. . . To those who dislike an ultimatum, but who were anxious for a reasonable and orderly procedure, every one of [the] modifications [of the Godesberg Memorandum by the Munich Agreement] is a step in the right direction. It is no longer an ultimatum, but is a method which is carried out largely under the supervision of an international body.
Before giving a verdict upon this arrangement, we should do well to avoid describing it as a personal or a national triumph for anyone. The real triumph is that it has shown that representatives of four great Powers can find it possible to agree on a way of carrying out a difficult and delicate operation by discussion instead of by force of arms, and thereby they have averted a catastrophe which would have ended civilisation as we have known it. The relief that our escape from this great peril of war has, I think, everywhere been mingled in this country with a profound feeling of sympathy.”
Let’s see… responding to the ultimatum by giving in, albeit with enough of a political circus to reduce the ultimatum to “a method…” a disdain for “victory,” and solving a problem by selling an ally piecemeal to its enemies.
Sounds a little like Mid-East Peace and the Iranian nuclear program negotiations, among other things, come to think of it. How do you say “Sudetenland” in Persian?