If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you know that the word of the week is “appeasement”. President Bush popped it up in an address to the Knesset, and Barack Obama, waving off his teammates, managed to get himself under it and make the catch. And now Pat Buchanan, who is clearly off his meds, is hollering imprecations from the bleachers.
The underlying issue appears to be whether or not we ought to be having diplomatic talks with folks like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Iran’s proxies in Lebanon and Palestine. Opinions vary, but some have made the not unreasonable observation that to do so might not be the wisest course. After all, we are talking about parties that have openly declared their implacable commitment to our destruction and that of our allies — and it is probably safe to assume that any agreement they might make with us is certain to be violated when it suits their interests, and, furthermore, that no amount of discussion is going to change any of that. So why bother talking to them?
President Bush, showing his customary care with words, referred to such negotiation as “appeasement”. Is it? Well, no, not quite, though it is a precondition of appeasement, and reasonable people might argue that it would go farther than we ought to in dignifying and elevating those who regard, for example, Israel as a “stinking corpse” that will soon be “wiped off the map”.
To appease literally means to “pacify”, and I don’t suppose any of you are foolish enough to imagine that any sort of discussion will pacify, for example, Hezbollah and Hamas. The West’s repeated and emboldening concessions to the Nazis in the 1930′s, however, which culminated in the shameful diplomatic collapse at Munich, lent a somewhat different meaning to the term, to wit: to accede cravenly to a bully’s demands in the hope that in return he will spare you a beating. This is clearly not what any of our current crop of political celebrities is suggesting that we do, but Mr. Obama has gone out of his way to receive President Bush’s remarks as a grave personal insult, and to insist that this is indeed what Mr. Bush implies he is recommending. For all I know, Mr. Obama may be right, though why he should be so bothered by it is more revealing of how thin his own skin is than of any previously unsuspected tactlessness, or sloppiness with language, on the part of Mr. Bush. At the very least it makes it quite plain that Mr. Obama is far more concerned about disparagement of himself than of the nation he seeks to lead.
Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan, who only occasionally has both oars in the water at the same time, has now disgorged an outstandingly loony essay on the matter. In it we learn that Adolf Hitler, far from being the rapacious, genocidal fiend to whose bloodstained ledger history has charged the Holocaust and the subjugation and subsequent destruction of Europe, was actually a pretty reasonable guy who was just looking out for the well-being of his constituents, as any responsible elected official ought to do. In fact, we discover that it was the fault not of the Nazis, but of Poland and Czechoslovakia’s mulish refusal to negotiate the surrender of their territory — and of those silly Brits for having a defense agreement with the Poles — that World War Two and all that other unpleasantness had to happen at all.
You just can’t make this stuff up. Pat Buchanan, on the other hand, can. See for yourself here.