Axis of Appeasement

News Abroad

Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is

Leading French politicians have made some remarkably defeatist pronouncements.

Rejecting any U.S. military action against Iraq, President Jacques Chirac said that "War is always the admission of defeat, and is always the worst of solutions. And hence everything must be done to avoid it." Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin put it more emphatically: "Nothing justifies envisaging military action." To all this, the German chancellor beamed with approval.

In response, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed France and Germany as "old Europe." The New York Post blasted them as the "Axis of Weasel." Cartoonist Tony Auth dubbed them the "Axis of Annoyance."

An even better name would be "Axis of Appeasement." "Appeasement" may sound like an insult, but it is a serious policy with a long history -- and an enduring appeal highly relevant to today's circumstances.

Yale historian Paul Kennedy defines appeasement as a way of settling quarrels "by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, thereby avoiding the resort to an armed conflict which would be expensive, bloody and possibly very dangerous."

The British Empire relied heavily on appeasement from the 1860s on, with good results -- avoiding costly colonial conflicts while preserving the international status quo. To a lesser extent, other European governments also adopted the policy.

Then came 1914, when in a fit of delirium nearly all Europe abandoned appeasement and rushed into World War I with what Yale historian Peter Gay calls "a fervor bordering on a religious experience." A century had passed since the continent had experienced the miseries of war, and their memory had vanished. Worse, thinkers such as the German Friedrich Nietzsche developed theories glorifying war.

Four years (1914-18) of hell, especially in the trenches of northern France, then prompted immense guilt about the jubilation of 1914. A new consensus emerged: Never again would Europeans rush into war.

Appeasement looked better than ever. And so, as Adolf Hitler threatened in the 1930s, British and French leaders tried to buy him off. Of course, what worked in colonial wars had utterly disastrous results when dealing with an enemy like the Nazis.

This led to the policy of buying off totalitarian opponents being discredited. Throughout the Cold War, it appeared the Europeans had learned a lesson they would never forget. But forget they did, soon after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

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In a brilliant Weekly Standard essay, Yale's David Gelernter recently explained how this happened. The power of appeasement was temporarily hidden by World War II and the Cold War, but with the passage of time, "The effects of the Second World War are vanishing while the effects of the First endure."

Why? Because, writes Gelernter, the First World War is far more comprehensible than the Second, which is "too big for the mind to grasp." Politically and spiritually, it feels increasingly as though World War II never took place.

In fact, Gelernter argues, "It's the 1920s all over again," with that era's visceral loathing of war and readiness to appease totalitarian dictators (think of North Korea, Iraq, Syria, Zimbabwe and others).

He finds today's Europe "amazingly" similar to that of the 1920s in other ways too: "its love of self-determination and loathing of imperialism and war, its liberal Germany, shrunken Russia and map of Europe crammed with small states, with America's indifference to Europe and Europe's disdain for America, with Europe's casual, endemic anti-Semitism, her politically, financially and masochistically rewarding fascination with Muslim states who despise her and her undertone of self-hatred and guilt."

Gelernter proposes that 1920s-style self-hatred is now "a dominant force in Europe." And appeasement fits this mood perfectly, having grown over the decades into a worldview "that teaches the blood-guilt of Western man, the moral bankruptcy of the West and the outrageousness of Western civilization's attempting to impose its values on anyone else."

Which brings us back to the unwillingness of "old Europe" to confront Saddam Hussein. World War II's lesson (strike before an aggressive tyrant builds his power) has lost out to the '20s attitude ("nothing justifies envisaging military action").

This self-hating weakness will lead again to disaster, no less than it did leading up to World War II. The United States finds itself having to lead the democracies away from the lure of appeasement. Iraq is a good place to start.

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Loren Reifsteck - 5/9/2003

Where can I find the actual text of the 1991 cease fire agreement?

Libertarian Larry - 2/28/2003

What is this about the arabs are incapable adopting a Represenative Constitutional Government? So what if they have "Never" been in one. Neither had the Japanese, but it didn't take long after WWII, with our help, to rebuild under a Citizen form of government. Certainly it may take some years of our help to bring a Constitutional form of government to Iraq, but we MUST do it!

Notice that I do not use the word democracy. I do not agree that a democracy is good, it's basically mob rule. Though we have become more and more democratic in this country, this is a bad thing. That's how 5% of the tax payers pay over 50% of the taxes, the majority votes higher taxes on them. Anything other than a flat tax with no deducts for everyone is unconstitutional. The constitution is there to protect the minority from the majority, whether they are black, poor, rich, gay, business owners, SUV drivers, smokers, or even conservative Christians!

James Thornton - 2/26/2003

Bill and Steve,

I find some of the things that Gus says extremely distasteful, but let us remember he has the right to say them. A right I take very seriously and will defend. I came close to telling Gus that I would stop responding to his posts if he did not tone down his language. I asked him to lower the level of sarcasm, and he responded. I think Gus is highly emotional on some subjects and that he goes a little too far, but I also think he is sincere in playing "the loyal opposition".

Something has happened to Gus (and others like him) that has twisted his perception of who is on the good side. They engage in self-loathing of Western society, and the interpretation of history has a lot to do with it. He will be the first to point out our mistakes such as slavery, treatment of Native Americans, Vietnam, and Watergate (to name a few). This is useful in keeping us in the mainstream intellectually honest. However, Gus will one day wake up and realize that it is because he lives in a tolerant society that he can exercise his rights. I hope that if this day arrives he will more fully appreciate his liberty and regret some of his past statements and writings that caused us emotional distress.

It is better for us to maintain the higher moral ground by not resorting to the tactics used by Gus and some of the others who for whatever reason disagree with us. Our arguments should be based upon logic and ethics, and refrain from emotional jibes. When the dust settles, they will realize they were wrong. The honorable ones will admit so, and we will probably never hear again from those that don't. We aren't going to win any hearts or minds by responding to insult with insult.

Gus Moner - 2/24/2003

No Mr Heuisler, I haven’t missed the point. You have. But then, I didn’t think you’d get it, but thought it worth a try.
I appreciate you do not question my sanity.
I have been on a long weekend. Have I missed something? Have we declared war on anyone or anyone on us?
In the event wee haven’t we are not then at war. There is still a constitution and a congress to debate attacking nations.
Since you’re into digging up UN Resolutions, dig some up on Israel, will you? As we are told, we’re trying to disarm Iraq. Bush is trying to personalise this by always saying Saddam. Curious.
Relax, you’ll probably get the war anyway

ian august - 2/22/2003

you should double check on that steve, there are many that are more of a danger

Libertarian Larry - 2/21/2003

That's one of the problems with the left, they can't recognise when we are at war. We've been at war since the first World Trade Center attack. Possibly longer. The Islamo-Facists want to destroy the West, secuarlism (separation of church and state), freedom, etc. and the US is the source for the world.

It was not Bush who tried to steal the election, it was Gore. In fact, I'm certain that Florida was one of many states set up to have "problems". Florida's election machine was run by the Democrats, they designed the ballots, probably with the idea that if needed they could pull a "buterfly" out of their sleeve. We did hear about some problems of Missouri (you know where Ashcroft had the right to be named senator but allowed a dead person to remain on the ballot and didn't abject when the govenor appointed the man's wife), but it wasn't needed, wouldn't make a difference, so the lawyers flew to Florida instead. Republicans play by the rule, the Democrat's will try to win at any means, even breaking the rules. This is something the Republicans better learn.

The left can't accept that the US represents the best government on Earth. We need to not only learn to accept our constitution, but love it and want to spread it's ideals around the world. Gus doen't understand that outside our borders, the world is a savage place. The way to tame the rest of the world is to encourage, and even impose our form of government. It didn't hurt the Germans or Japanese, McAurthor gave the Japanese thier constitution and told them to adopt it. Aren't the people of Afganistan, or Iraq good enough to be given the same? Do you want to keep thier people down?

Until we create friends in the Middle East, in the Moslem world, who are prosperous, secular, and have liberty, we will always be at war with them.

Libertarian Larry
NW Washington

Steve Brody - 2/21/2003

Jim, as I posted elsewhere in this string, Gus wants it both ways. He laments the demonization that he claims the Bush administration is engaging in, but IN THE SAME POSTING, he compares Bush to Hitler and the administration to Nazi Germany.

If you want to see real demonization, read some of the personal invective used against Bush or anyone who happens to agree that is time to disarm Iraq.

Bill Heuisler - 2/21/2003

Mr. Thornton,
You are of course correct to call for civil discourse on HNN.
But isn't it about time we closely examined Mr. Moner's posts.
For instance, he wrote in a primary post in this stream:

"Recently, well, I’ll say it, since Bush came to power, it has indeed become acceptable and fashionable to shout: Danger! Enemy! War! Threat! Hate! To liquidate, crush and kill has become fashionable, even soothing. The hateful, abrasive, aggressive tone of the administration is similar to the 30’s dictators’. As Mr Bush recently said, “…more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way, they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.” When it is fashionable for men in power to scorn, loathe, demean and denigrate the ‘enemy’ while boasting and praising this way, one can expect the worst to come. The President sounds more and more like a dictator from the 30’s, or a terrorist."

This is literally outrageous. He ignores 9/11/01. He compares W to Hitler. He puts the word enemy in quotes when referring to admitted terrorists. He forfeits decency by committing indecency.

Have we lost all balance to allow this verbal outrage? How can hateful nonsense like this be countered? The usual recitation of history and reason will not suffice in my opinion. Words mean something, Mr. Thornton, and the casual injection of such poison into daily conversation cannot be allowed to stand or we lose all sense of reality and objective truth.

If my outrage is misplaced, then we have lost our moral anchor and discourse is futile. Do you disagree?
Bill Heuisler

James Thornton - 2/21/2003

Though I very often disagree with Gus on just about everything I do agree that our language needs to be civil. Gus has come a long way in his responses, which were sarcastic to put it mildly, to my opinions, and I respect his considerable intellect. Please do not allow frustration with differing viewpoints denigrate into personal attacks. Policy will not be affected one way or the other by what is posted on the HNN website so let's not get too carried away.

Ryan - 2/21/2003

I am with you on a war with Iraq but that Democracy will work in the Arab World. Most people there live a tribal lifestyle so to force them to all of a sudden be democratic won't work. Democracy is a great thing but since its government by the people there first be a yearning from the people.

Anyway this war is not about Democracy, Oil, blah blah blah... It's about doing what needs to be done now so that in 20 years we don't face a monster with Nuclear weapons!

James Thornton - 2/21/2003

Democracy is a natural form of government for all human beings. It is a mistake to contend that it won't work for Arabs when it works in every other region of the world. The Arabs deserve democracy.

Anyone notice that for all of the protests against the war against Saddam Hussein no Iraqi's participated? The Boston Globe editorilzed on this. What are the Iraqi's in the West who are free from Saddam's murderous tyranny saying? They say it is time for Saddam to go and for Iraq to be liberated.

Ryan - 2/21/2003

Yes, I have read Albert Hourani's book. It was quite good but my opinion Efraim Karsh's is better. Good to hear that another person is interested in his work because its a shame not may people have read his work...

saatchi - 2/20/2003

Thanks...will do. If you haven't read any work providing an argument to the contrary of what you have mentioned, you may want to check out Albert Hourani's book, History of the Arab Peoples.

Thanks again for the suggestion, I'm always open to understanding multiple arguments.

Bill Heuisler - 2/20/2003

Right, Mr. Moner,
You weren't aware Madelyn Albright, Secretary of State under President Clinton gave interviews. That is a crock, Gus. And she clearly said this was Saddam's last chance before "force".
Purposely miss the point and then act hurt. Now you say you won't answer. Convenient. Go home and sulk when you get caught.

You say:
"...butif it were any other party in power perpetrating this sham, I'd react exactly tyther same."
Oh really? What did you say about President Clinton, Gus? Did you protest the aspirin factory? The Balkans? Haiti?
Of course not. You're a sanctimonious shill for Democrats.

Admit it, you never see any problems on the Left. When Albright and Clinton threatened war (and don't pretend she didn't say no more chances and threaten to "use force") where were you? Cheering? Pretense and prolixity doesn't work for ever and you know what they say about heat and kitchens, don't you?

By the way, it was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov who called you a useful idiot. And you think he's the greatest, don't you?
Bill Heuisler

Steve Brody - 2/20/2003

Oh I get it, Gus, your point is that there is no difference between the United States and Iraq. Really.

Ryan - 2/20/2003

blah blah blah blah....

All these arguments about clear present danger, oil,... are completely irrelevant. The facts boil down to simple logic. Anyone with a brain the size of peanut can understand the simple fact that in the next 10 years there will be another Major War in the Middle East (dictators breed hate to survive). So postponing a US led attack is only postponing the inevitable. Saddam wants war. Maybe not now but later a one is certainty. The question is on whose terms and when do you want this war. Do you want to wait and let Saddam take make the first move and possibly have a nuclear weapon? Or should it be on our terms where Saddam is in his weakest state? I think Bush made the right choose. You can blah blah blah all you want about the Oil, about real danger, about the other conspiracies you people think is the behind this war. The facts remain the facts we let Saddam go now who knows what we will be up against later.

Ryan - 2/20/2003


It seems that you agree only in part with Efraim Karsh's assessment of the Middle East. You stated,

"Unlike the US, the Middle East never had a moment without external influence in order to organize itself and let its grassroots voices be heard."

You need to read Karsh's book "Empires of the Sands". He clearly shows that it was not necessarily western influences that created the present day Arab world. Anyway its to much to get into now so read it.

Gus Moner - 2/20/2003

Let’s see now. How many neighbours has the USA attacked? Panama, Nicaragua, Granada, Libya, Sudan etc. How many WMD has the US in store? What of Israel? How many neighbours has Israel attacked and how many times? It is continuously attacking Palestine even as we exchange notes. How many UN resolutions has Israel flouted? The no-fly zone has never been approved by the UN, it is a form of unilateral control. They have made internal peace that has held for over 6 years, and still there are no-fly zones. From which to attack Iraq, yes.

Gus Moner - 2/20/2003

For one, Mr Heuisler, this ‘useful idiot’ wasn’t aware of this site in 98. I thank you for your contribution, while wishing to direct your attention to Ms. Albright’s entire comment, paying especial attention to her comments preferring UN inspections to resume, which thanks to US pressure there now are.

Now, I for one am not playing politics of the left or right, I am merely saying what I feel, think and believe. You may not be willing to accept this, butif it were any other party in power perpetrating this sham, I'd react exactly tyther same. Bear in mind, Blair is a Labourite, and he got 1 000 000 people demonstrating against him. So, I’ve nothing to be ashamed of. If we disagree, let’s do it with civility and avoid the invective, Or I for one shall refrain from responding to you in future to avoid the insults.

Saatchi - 2/20/2003

Well done, all except the assumption that there is no grassroots desire for democracy. In fact, there has been movements toward establishing democratic nations since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Iran, for example, had its first constitutional revolution during the years 1906-1911, accepted assistance from the US to put its finances in order and was promptly shut down by Britain and Russia.

Unlike the US, the Middle East never had a moment without external influence in order to organize itself and let its grassroots voices be heard. Every time there was a try, they were silenced. (I can provide detailed examples if you would like) It is not in the interest of hegemonic democratic nations to have democracies in the Middle East. Dictatorships are far easier to control, and thus have historically been supported: Cases in point, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

Ryan - 2/20/2003

I agree with Ian August. I think the words of Efraim Karsh are what is needed here:

As for the trendy advocacy by Western pundits of a wholesale democratization of the Arab world, this fad is misconceived and dangerous. It ignores the realities of the Middle East and instead imposes Western values in the place of Middle Eastern ideals, hopes, and beliefs. For another, this approach grossly overstates the ability of the great powers, the United States in particular, to bring about such an eventuality. There is no grassroots yearning for democracy in the Arab world, and any American attempt to impose such a system is bound to encounter mass resistance and to be viewed (quite correctly) by the local populations as neo-imperialism or a latter-day imposition of the "white man's burden."**


Bill Heuisler - 2/20/2003

When did you "peace" advocates discover this issue? Were you all upset when a Democrat President was ready for war? Of course not. This is typical Leftist politics and reminds me of the way the Left became suddenly pro-Hitler after the Nazi-Soviet Pact.
Read the following and have the decency to feel ashamed.

13 November 1998
(Says Saddam Hussein "needs no additional warnings") (6050)

New York -- "Time is running out" for Saddam Hussein, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said November 11 in an interview on PBS-TV's "The Charlie Rose Show."

"What Saddam wants to do are two things that are incompatible. He
wants sanctions to be lifted and he wants to have the ability to
retain his weapons of mass destruction. He can't have it both ways. Weapons of mass destruction are too threatening to his neighbors, to the stability of the region and to us."

Albright said Saddam needs to reverse his decision to cease
cooperating with UNSCOM and "let the inspectors do their jobs -- so that then the UN can do a comprehensive review of where the sanctions
regime is."

The Secretary said that while a diplomatic option is preferable, if he does not comply "we are also prepared to use force."
"Also, we are saying -- making very clear -- that he needs no
additional warnings," Albright stressed.

Look it up under Charlie Rose archives. Thought we'd forget? Remember all you "useful idiots", this is a history site.
Bill Heuisler

Steve Broce - 2/20/2003

I Doubt that the 30 other nations that you refer to have been working determinedly for the past 12 years, in violation of agreements that they made after losing a war of aggression, on WMD; attacked 4 of their neighbors; used WMD on their own people; used WMD on their neighbors; violated 17 UN resolutions; shot at coalition aircraft patrolling a no-fly zone instituted because they would otherwise massacre their own population; and even now, having been given a final chance to comply, flout UN weapons inspection.

ian august - 2/20/2003

i respectfully disagree with your opinion that by forcfully transforming the middle east into democratic regimes would aid the war on terrorism. Do you think all the radical militants would just go along with that plan, would we just take them all out? One thing i know about human nature is that no one likes to be forced. The root cause must be addressed. But we cannot take them out. I believe we need a compromise. peace breads peace, and violence breads violence, just look at israel.

Also, lets flip part 3 of your argument upside down, and lets say the arab nations think the solution to the whole problem is the "drain the western democratic swamp", so they decide to forcefully transform democracy into there way of life.. i woulf bet the farm that we would not take those thoughts litely.

IAN "an american for peace" - 2/20/2003


Ron - 2/20/2003

"It seems to me we haven't an enemy yet, yet we 'scorn, loathe, demean and denigrate'."

Oh so I see Iraq is not our enemy. Yup that make sense... lets just discount the fact that a) we went to war with them once b) they plotted to kill our former president c) they routinely break the post Gulf War agreements (which we retaliate against them for) d) there is growing evidence that they MIGHT have had a hand in 9-11 e) not a day passes when Saddam makes a vulgar statement about our country and the list goes on and on...

I guess you have some pretty high standards in considering a person is your enemy. So let me see here how do your friends treat you?

AND YES we most certainly are at war with Iraq and have been since the Gulf War. If you can't understand how Iraq is our enemy then you are a lost cause dude...

Bill Heuisler - 2/20/2003

Mr. Moner's sanity should not be in question. He is a dedicated Leftist who follows in the footsteps of other dedicated Leftists like Hitler and Stalin who repeated obvious lies until foolish people began to believe. Moner's constant repetition that "we are not at war" is becoming tiresome.

This is a history site. There was a Cease Fire Agreement after the Gulf War. That agreement has not been kept. We are at war.

Mr. Moner read this and stop repeating your treacherous nonsense:
Tracking Number: 219273
Title: "What the UN Security Council Requires of Iraq." Fact sheet outlining the armistice requirements of Iraq as set by UN Security Council resolutions. (920312)
Date: 19920312
(Factsheet: Requirements set by resolutions) (870) United Nations -- The U.N. Security Council March 12 continued its open session on Iraq's non-compliance with the council's cease-fire resolutions which ended hostilities in the Persian Gulf war.

The major outline of demands was enumerated in council resolution 687 passed April 3, 1991. Subsequently, the council adopted other resolutions on meeting the humanitarian needs of Iraqi civilians and minority groups, such as the Kurds and Shia; on regulating oil sales to pay Iraq's war debts; on spelling out the role of the Special Commission overseeing the destruction of chemical, biological, ballistic and nuclear weapons and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and on conforming with the specifications of the council's long-term monitoring and verification plan.

The council has said it is "disturbed by the lack of Iraqi cooperation" on many issues, and "there is serious non-compliance by Iraq with its obligations concerning its programs for weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles." The council also declared that Baghdad is in "continued material breaches of resolution 687" on weapons requirements.

The council has said that the requirements in the resolution are not open for negotiation.

Security Council resolutions require, in broad terms, that Iraq: -- accept unconditionally the destruction, removal or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of all weapons, facilities, materials and items connected with its chemical and biological weapons programs and its programs for ballistic missiles with a range over 150 kilometers;

-- declare the locations, amounts and types of items in the outlawed weapons programs;

Mr. Moner, this is a UN document. Look it up and stop trying to make specious points by repeating falsehoods.
Bill Heuisler

Steve Brody - 2/20/2003

The problem with your argument, Saatchi, that Saddam doesn't present a danger is that someone forgot to tell Saddam. He just went through those 12 years of sanctions using that "food for oil" money developing his WMD and delivery systems. He didn't know he was supposed to stop being a "danger".

Your statement that Iraq has been "bombed continuously" during these twelve years is not accurate. The fact is that Saddam fired "continuously" at coalition aircraft patrolling the "no-fly" zone and got shot back at as a result. Occasionally, Saddam did something really stupid, reckless or evil and got bombed as a consequence. He has not been "bombed continuously" or anything like it.

As for whether any "sane person" could reasonably expect Saddam to be a clear and present danger, I say this: We are not dealing with a sane person, we are dealing with Saddam.

Steve Brody - 2/20/2003

Gus, if you doubt man's need to demonize the "enemy", just examine your own postings about Bush.

You lament the "hateful, abrasive, aggressive" tone coming out of the Administration and then proceed to compare Bush to Hitler and the current administration to Nazi Germany. Clean up your own act before you complain about someone else.

Better yet, look at all the anti-Bush postings on this site and you'll find all manner of personal invective, abrasiveness, and denigration. All this directed not just at Bush, but at anyone who happens to believe he is correct in his confrontation with Saddam.

Now, Gus, in the past, you have posted your support for the need to disarm Iraq. You have written that we need to give the inspectors more time, but in the end, if he fails to disarm, we will take his WMD. So Bush happens to think that Saddam's unwillingness to disarm is now clear and the inspectors have had enough time to demonstrate Saddam's unwillingness. Why can't you just say that Bush is acting too hastily or that you don't agree the time has come to forcibly disarm Saddam? Why do you have to attempt to demonize Bush by making some pathetic attempt to compare him to the Hitler?

I have a theory: Because you have a tendency to "scorn, loath, denigrate and demean" your enemy, Bush. You even bring up the 2000 election (that, again), even though I've seen your posts urging your colleagues to "get over it". No reason to let foolish consistency get in the way.

Your observation that since Bush came to power it has become fashionable to yell "danger" is silly. The reality is that Bush didn't make any serious changes in this country until 9/11, at which time it became clear that there is "danger" about and that it is foolhardy to pretend otherwise.

Your dismissal of all the European countries that have supported the US as the "me too" countries who "haven't developed free thought" is convenient, but silly. These countries know much better than you what its like to live under the yoke of dictatorship. And most of them are at least as familiar with the horrors of war as Germany and France. The fact of the matter, Gus, is that the vast majority of Europe and Nato support the US.

Many anti-Bush protestors claim that the US is in this for the oil. I believe that a much better case can be made that France, Germany and Russia oppose the war "for the oil". To believe otherwise, you have to believe that France is acting on principle. When did France ever do anything not in its own self-interest?

What is starting to become clear is that France and Germany may have something to hide in Iraq. Something that the world may discover about their dealings with Iraq if Saddam is disarmed.

Dan - 2/20/2003

Just remember, Poland "attacked" Germany to kick of WWII...

James Thornton - 2/20/2003

The Administration probably does not advertise it's desire to alter the Middle East as the primary justification for liberating Iraq because it would not sell well to the American public.

It is not in American interests to occupy Iraq based upon economic reasons, especially oil. The resources of Iraq belong to the Iraqi people, not the regime of Saddam Hussein. The proceeds from Iraq's oil exports will be used to rebuild Iraqi society and infrastructure damaged by the last 12 years of Saddam's grossly mismanaged rule.

If you want to discuss oil politics let us take a real look at who loses out the most if Saddam and his cronies are driven from power.

1. Saudi Arabia stands to lose the most followed by OPEC and oil exporting nations such as Mexico, Russia, and Norway for example. For 12 years since economic sanctions have restricted Iraq's oil exports these nations have taken up the slack resulting in an increased market share for each. Once Iraq is liberated the sanctions will end and Iraq will no longer be restricted in the amount of oil it can export. There will be a glut of oil on the market once Iraqi production ramps up. Oil prices will fall and other oil exporting nations will suffer unless prices are maintained at an artificially higher rate. This is especially worrisome to Russia whose prime source of hard currency comes from the export of oil.

2. Russia and France also stand to lose out on developing Iraqi oil fields because contracts signed by Saddam will no longer be enforceable. Given French and Russian obstinance in the UN Security Council against US and UK efforts to provide political support to the war effort the future Iraqi government will likely not forgive or forget anytime in the near future. German corporations will likely suffer similar fate in other fields. Conversely, it should not surprise anyone when American, British, Japanese, and European corporations of nations supportive of Washington will profit handsomely from deals to develop Iraqi oil fields. This will be a parternship however, and the Iraqi government and people employed will also benefit greatly.

The more revenue that Iraq generates from exporting oil the more wealth will be distributed among the Iraqi people. A Marshall Plan for Iraq will also likely be offered as well as other contributions from other nations. Iraq is not Afghanistan and the standard of living will quickly improve.

Finally, the term "Islamic terror" is inflammatory but quite specific and accurate. The terrorists we are fighting are Islamic, albeit radical Muslims, who have peverted their faith. The poverty and feelings of powerlessness felt by the common Arab on the street are primarily responsible for the large pool of individuals sympathetic to the terrorists. These people have to be won over to our side. Once the sanctuary for creeps like bin Laden and Zawahiri is removed their capture or demise are guaranteed. Chairman Mao himself recognized that a fish needs a pond to hide in. When we make Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups fish out of water we will have won this war. The best way to do that is too win the Arab people over, and the only way to do that is to lead them to address their grievances with their own governments. The US must plant and nuture the seed of democracy and freedom in the Middle East and the best place to do that is Iraq.

I hope we grow Kudzoo. If you have ever visited the South you would know that this is vine grows like a weed and now literally covers the entire state of Georgia.

Saatchi - 2/20/2003

Your argument leaves one to question: if creating a new world order based on democratic principles is the purpose of the Bush administration in Iraq, and most every citizen enjoying the freedoms and transparency afforded by a democratic government would consider this an honorable purpose, then why isn't it publicized? Only recently, when pressed, Colin Powell very generally and vaguely mentioned the establishment of a new "order" in Iraq/Middle East.

The next question that comes to mind is: What do you mean by "geopolitical state", the political science usage of this term implies political advantage based on geographical attributes. If we use this definition, then it appears that you're contradicting your previous statement that this war is not about oil. The geopolitical state (if I can borrow your terms of reference) of Iraq includes oil as well as its strategic position in the middle of the Muslim states including Iran.

The final question that comes to mind is: in a world in which resources are unevenly distributed and used, how can an open world-market possibly benefit the Middle East, which has already been economically abused by larger and more established free-markets? The frustration in the Middle East will only increase with the advent of an absolutely free-market system. I highly encourage you to read the latest book by Noam Chomsky, titled Rogue States.

The most perplexing part of your argument is: considering that one of Bush Sr's primary campaigning messages was the commitment against "nation building," it hardly behooves them now to seak establishing democracies in the Middle East.

The most irritating part of your argument is your usage of terms such as "Islamic terror" and "drain the swamp." Specificity as opposed to cliches is always a better choice in academic parlance if your choice is to make a valid argument as opposed to being inflamatory.

James Thornton - 2/20/2003

There are some myths about Iraq that need to be dispelled.

1. This is not about oil. The US purchases only 5 percent of Iraq's oil under the oil for food program. We could easily stop importing oil from Iraq and purchase it from elsewhere.

2. This is not about WMD. Lots of other states have WMD. North Korea is a prime example of nations hostile to the US that possess WMD yet the US pursues a diplomatic track.

3. This is all about terrorism. Saddam may or may not have had a hand in 9/11. This cannot be proven either way. The root of Islamic terror lies in the geopolitical state of the Middle East as a region. Transforming Iraq into a liberal democratic market-orientated society is the first step towards transforming the Middle East to "drain the swamp" of those predisposed to commit or support terrorism. Using WMD and violation of international law as a pretext for invasion, the real goal of invading and occupying Iraq I suspect is to create the first true Arab democracy. Once this project is successful the internal pressure on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Arab nations to reform will become irresistable. The Saudis are already contemplating the creation of a national assembly. When Arab nations become democratic and the standard of living and satisfaction with the government increases, then the underlying socio-economic root causes of terrorism are addressed. Thus, Iraq has everything to do with the war on terror.

Gus Moner - 2/20/2003

Well said.

Gus Moner - 2/20/2003

I appreciate your concern for my sanity. However, rest at ease, I am fine. You are welcome to disagree, I shall not question your sanity for it.

The comparison was in style and form. The regime in power today in the USA is acting quite like those regimes.
I approach the conclusion by examining the form, style, methods, language, propaganda etc. of the two regimes. How do you approach yours? At least I have a basis for mine, OK? Got it?

Gus Moner - 2/20/2003

Cute, but out of context. It seems to me we haven't an enemy yet, yet we 'scorn, loathe, demean and denigrate'.

We are NOT at war, just threatening another nation. I'm sure it all sounds great to you!

Ron - 2/20/2003

When it is fashionable for men in power to scorn, loathe, demean and denigrate the ‘enemy’ ...

I am sorry maybe you are of the school of thought that adores, glorifies, praises, and honors their enemies? I wasn't aware that it is ‘unfashionable’ for people to hate those try to kill them ...

Saatchi - 2/20/2003

Just briefly, this entire piece reads as a justification for preemptive violence as a form of defence. Consider for a moment what the status of the world would be if all felt as though a valid form of defence were to strike violently at your possible enemies.

If the US administration were clear on their purpose for attacking Iraq and not so fluid in their motives, one might have a legitimate argument one way or the other. As it is, however, the proposition for attacking Iraq began as an arm of the "war on terrorism" then became a means of disarming Iraq and then became a defencive maneuver against a preemptive strike, and most recently, depending on who you listen to in the administration, the motive for striking Iraq has been all three. Very rarely and certainly not convincingly, we hear that this is an attack for humanitarian purposes - to free the Iraqi people from Hussein, the Tyrant that everyone agrees he is.

The problem the Bush administration is facing and the main problem with Mr. Pipes' argument is the notion that Hussein's regime poses a clear and present danger to the US national security - Iraq has been bombed continuously for the last 12 years and debilitating sanctions have been in place for the last 12 years. No sane person can expect that there is a clear and present danger posed by Saddam Hussein's regime.

Mr. Pipes, your argument is as weak and unsustainable as the Bush administration's. A preemptive strike is only a resolution to end fear at the expense of morality.

Gus Moner - 2/19/2003

Hello Mr Thornton:
Fancy running into you here again. Well, I have to clarify some points you have brought up, regarding the self-determination issue, as it appears I was not clear in how I expressed them. Thanks for bringing your interpretation to my attention because it helped me see I expressed myself poorly.

I realise you cannot accept the Nazi label for the Bush administration. In fact, it was not my intention to label them Nazis, per say. I was saying, and repeat here, that the tactics and that situation have a lot of uncanny similarities to today and people ought to beware of that parallelism. I stand by that.

As for being at war, I disagree there. We are NOT at war. We are threatening to attack a nation, and we are fighting terrorists, not effectively I might add, far and wide. I hope you’ll make an effort to see my point. Not agree, but recognise the tendencies, similarities and dangers therein. I disagree, however that Iraq is a new theatre on the terrorism ‘war’. The agenda is planets away from terrorism.

I also fail to agree on the labelling of Iraq as an enemy and of the need to be so hateful. Therein lie a lot of slippery slope traps. The first tenets of diplomacy are to give your opponent respect and an exit. We are failing miserably on both. Iraq had no hand in the 9-11 debacle. It is Orwellian of you to put that to me now.

Iraq has not thrust war upon us. We have thrust it upon Iraq. Needless to say wer all want to win! That, however is not the issue.

I was not ring to exonerate Germany of guilt in starting the war! Heavens no. However, to say it was up to people to decide what to do fails to take into account the impact of propaganda quite like we have now. If we were to lose this war, highly unlikely, but imagine it, you’d be a war criminal for not opposing it. They believed in their country and leader, right or wrong, to win a war. So, in a way you have reinforced my point about similarities between the situations. Like today, few knew their leaders true plans and intentions. It was all secret. I repeat, uncanny.

OK then, now to my poorly explained comment:

I said that “Perhaps if Mr Wilson had not gone so over the top for the self-determination of people we’d not have seen such a map, peoples would be living together in their multi-cultural empires, in uneasy and precarious tolerance and the second war might not have been waged. That is all mere speculation, of course.”

I did not mean to come down against self-determination. Indeed, I thought I had couched it in proper uncertainty and I mentioned the ‘uneasy and precarious tolerance’. It was still flawed. It was wrong to say ‘over the top’.

My thought was that they did this without realising the implications on a broad basis, idealistically decoupling centuries-old socio-economic ties, patterns of co-existence hoping for the best. Hoping to expand freedom, capitalism, democracy, liberate the people, what have you- yet that gave way to brazen competition, vindications and aggressive nationalism. There may be similar lessons from Iraq that our children will eventually argue about. Food for thought.

For example, when dismembering the former AH empire, they left Vienna, its nerve centre and the capital of a huge nation with 40 million inhabitants, as a capital with 3 million people of a nation with 7 million. It helped collapse any potential European recovery.

They drew borders in Transylvania trapping 3 million Magyars in Rumania, and 800,000 in Czechoslovakia. Likewise, millions other nationalities were outside their new nations border, and this led to vindications of nationalism, which proved to be quite deadly.

Needless to say, Yugoslavia was an aberration. Yet, it took WWII to point it up. The Croat Serb conflict within that conflict, and the massacres that ensued, made certain the state would eventually splinter. Which points up the danger of going in with the best intentions to sort other people out. I hope this better explains what I mean to say.

Suetonius - 2/19/2003

Mr. Moner screams:

"How, like in the USA today, a small group of men who came into power with questionable legality at best, (Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland, USSR) seized control of a nation, set up a fear and propaganda campaign to terrify and manipulate people and their emotions (duct tape, anyone?)"

To equate the regimes of fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Bela Kun's Hungary and Soviet Russia to the United States today is ahistorical and ridiculous. Where do you live and where do you come from that you could even begin to approach such a conclusion? I seriously question your sanity.

Libertarian Larry - 2/19/2003

Why would we want to go to war against such a moral man as Saddam? Lately, he has only been killing his own people. What is our business that he oppresses his people, mostly he just kills jews (you know, the people you and I hate), well, and people who want to speak out (here we call it freedom of speech, there it's called sedition), oh, and anyone else that gets in his way for real or imagined. Then there are the women that his son rapes and kills. Don't forget the little children tortured and killed in front of their parents. Really the US has no interest in Iraq, so we should just stay out of it.

Matthew and I are just not willing to do anything that's not in our interest. Really, Bush wants to give money for AIDs care to Africa, but it's not in our interest, we should let them die. It's really not in our interest to keep South Korea free, lets call the troops home, and if North Korea takes over, then they too can enjoy the type of dictator that Iraq has.

Certainly there were lots of people out this last weekend, but they were protesting the WTO, Capitalism, Freedom, Education, Health Care, Cars, Logging, Toliet paper, Sewage treatment, Electricity, Certain cable TV channels, Safe cars, the Stock Market, Plastics, Certain Christian Universities, Bush, free elections, allowing only citizens to vote, not enough welfare/unemployment/SSI, you know, the usual. The war protest isn't until.... THE WAR STARTS!

Libertarian Larry
NW Washington

James Thornton - 2/19/2003


Interesting thoughts here, but once again I must disagree with some of your comments. I am totally opposed to your characterization of the Bush Administration as Nazi's. We are at war, there is an enemy, and the threat and danger posed by the enemy is quite real. The President has gone to great lengths to tell the world this is not a war on Islam, and has preached religious tolerance. The media is for the most part, slanted against the Administration and the opening of a new theater in what is the same war on terrorism.

Many in the government and military are taking this war personal because many lost people they knew at the Pentagon on September 11th. I won't comment on the Commander-in-Chief's language, but I understand your sensitivity. But hating the enemy makes it much easier to kill them. This is a sad neccessity of war.

We are at war Gus. We did not want this war, but now that we are in it we must win. The only thing worse than fighting a war is losing a war. I support the right for those opposed to the war to voice their opinions, eventhough the protests are making the war even more likely to occur. Every reasonable and sane person is against war and hates war, but realistic people understand that once it is thrust upon them it must be prosecuted to victory.

Your story about your experience in Germany is moving and greatly illustrates the evil of war, but let us be frank. Germany started that war. There are few true innocents in war. As Thoreau would agree, German civilians who continued to work in the factories and pay their taxes supported the Nazi war effort. Civilians that lived near the death camps cannot claim ignorance to the evil down the road, and by not resisting evil became party to evil. I have little sympathy for reasonable Germans of that era who had the freewill to decide whether or not they would support their government's effort to exterminate a race of people and it's drive to conquer Europe.

Finally, I cannot believe you would come down on Woodrow Wilson the way you did. You constantly counsel me against the US imposing it's morals and democracy on other peoples. Self-determination is a principle I thought you would embrace, but you seem to endorse different ethnic groups living in a "multi-cultural empire" as a possible means of averting WW2. That was tried recently in a place once called Yugoslavia.

Gus Moner - 2/19/2003

While I may agree with Mr Moriarty’s disapproval of the article, I cannot agree with his comment, which I find devoid of fact or theory even, so I’d have to hang with Mr. Brody on this one. However, there was a piece of the Pipes article that struck me as worthy of Mr Brody’s observation about Mr. Moriarty’s vacuous comments.

Thus, I’d have to question the brilliance of Mr. Gelernter’s article, and Mr Pipe’s fascination with it. Hardly anyone in Europe recalls with much emotion WWI anymore, most alive then have died. Recall it they do, however not with the passion it inspired at the time. His claim is baseless.

It is the Second World War that remains etched in everyone’s mind, contrary to the gentlemen’s assertions and unfounded discourse. How, like in the USA today, a small group of men who came into power with questionable legality at best, (Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland, USSR) seized control of a nation, set up a fear and propaganda campaign to terrify and manipulate people and their emotions (duct tape, anyone?), vilified real and would-be enemies, militarised the nation and set off on multiple showdowns and military adventures that eventually were responded to, albeit nearly too late in the match.

As the Polish journalist Rudyard Kapuscinski recently reminded us in an interview, WWII did not begin with the invasion of Poland. Rather, it began long before, with inciting and bellicose language.

I have pondered this observation. Recently, well, I’ll say it, since Bush came to power, it has indeed become acceptable and fashionable to shout: Danger! Enemy! War! Threat! Hate! To liquidate, crush and kill has become fashionable, even soothing.

The hateful, abrasive, aggressive tone of the administration is similar to the 30’s dictators’. As Mr Bush recently said, “…more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way, they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.” When it is fashionable for men in power to scorn, loathe, demean and denigrate the ‘enemy’ while boasting and praising this way, one can expect the worst to come. The President sounds more and more like a dictator from the 30’s, or a terrorist.

Watching US news today, this pundit, who has studied the propaganda tactics of the Nazis, recalls how the propaganda of Dr Goebbles linked soldiers to their families via telephone links, showed them happily working in their soldierly duties, doing their bit for the fatherland, in interviews and film. It’s uncanny how much it resembles what ABC and NBC do now (week of 17th February 2003, for example). The irrelevancy of their reporting is audacious. I mean, how can the NBC anchor devote over 90 seconds of a prime time news broadcast on the threshold of war to the pronunciation of Qatar? He ought to be sacked! They are showing the war preparations, predicting invincibility and perfection of the war machine to quiet public concern about deaths. We are told we are ‘disarming Iraq’, not attacking it, as if we were merely disarming a surrendered criminal. These news people need to study history. They probably haven’t a clue as to how similar they are sounding to the Nazis; it’s simply uncanny.

No, Mr. Gelernter is no "brilliant" student of events, and neither, by extension, does Mr Pipes seem to be. His opinion may have some merits, there are points worth pondering or even debating, (I'm sure we'll get round to them) but it is generally quite off the mark. WWII is not too big to grasp, Messrs. but rather a daily reminder of it exists in everyone’s lives in Europe. I was in Europe this summer, and was amazed at the small villages with their lists of war dead. Many, for being such small towns, had lists that were chillingly long. From the monuments to the dead, the crowded cemeteries, the rebuilt city centres that have lost their ancient charm and are but ugly, modern, replacements, many European cities are a daily reminder of the savagery of war, bombing and ‘collateral damage’.

The death camps, brutality, rape and plunder of the conquering armies, are still all too etched in people’s mind, as a reminder that wars, once unleashed, have frightfully peculiar twists and turns. Most people can tell you about their family’s losses in the wars.

As an example of the impact of war on people, I'll relate a personal experienceI had. I studied for some years in Europe. My youthful wanderings led me into the heart of a family in Germany whilst I dated their daughter. The mother’s family, had had an uncle summarily shot by the Fascist side and the family sent to a camp where they perished. Another was killed after being sent to fight in the Balkan. As a consequence they were rabid leftists. Her in-law’s family had suffered a rape and two executions by the Red Army in Prussia, and they were rabidly anti-Communist. In the end, what was the difference who shot whom? Both had lost loved ones in a conflagration unimagined 6 years before, and learnt to hate as a result.

Both families carried their grudges. When the children met and began to date, their families were wary of each other, the two families, marked by either side in the war, with the resultant opposite political views, carried enormous political baggage and were reluctant to get to know each other deeply.

Over time, they have realised it did not matter which side killed their relatives. They were, in fact, all victims of the madness of the period, regardless of who was right, and of the “colour” of the bullets that ended each life. Now they love and respect one other deeply and while still retaining their left-right leanings, they do so less feverishly, understanding that the bullet's origins had little to do with the outcome. Few if any US families have had similar revelations, nor can they understand the impact of conquering armies.

Unfortunately, many families perished entirely and only their screaming silence is to be heard today. WWI & WWII took place. Everyone knows the horrors of it and are loath to repeat it. No experience even remotely resembling that is available to the US citizenry to ponder in the USA. How can we understand? That is one thing, not comprehending. Nonetheless to use that lack of understanding, perception and depth to criticise those who have had such experiences is bordering on deranged. Not to listen or learn from it is simply ignorance.
The dictators are further away now. Yet few people realise that in Europe there were many dictators that rose from the ashes of the depression. How many recall that Poland was a military dictatorship when invaded by Germany? Does anyone recall his lack of diplomatic skills in confronting Hitler? His lack of preparation, bungling it all until his nation became Europe’s inferno and proportionately biggest graveyard?

The purported similarities to the twenties are diatribe, with opinions but no relevant facts to back them up. Few Europeans disdain America, although very many indeed dislike its rabid militarism and easy recourse to war on other people’s soil.

The mentioned European ‘fascination’ with Muslim states is pure hogwash. No one in Europe is any more fascinated by Muslim culture than we are, say, about Mexican. There is respect for the fact that Muslims helped bringh Europe out of the Christian Dark Ages. People have learnt and accepted Muslim traditions or culture through understanding, travel and people exchanges. Bear in mind they do live and work with 10 million Muslims. The geographical proximity makes for frequent holiday travel to those nations and more deeper understanding of their culture than the vast majority of Americans have of even Mexican, much less Muslim culture.

Yes, there is a European loathing of war. However, when there are threats, Europe has responded, both with military and humanitarian aid. The EU is the world’s largest aid donor and provide their citizens with universal health care. It is not all about war as the sole solution to the world’s problems, nor war as THE test of a nation’s soul or virility, as Mr Gelernter and by extension Mr Pipes, would have us believe. There is nothing wrong with avoiding it if one can, as their history has taught them.

Most Eastern European nations have yet to develop a free-thinking, debating, open society after the Communist era. That generation will surface in some 10-15-20 years. For now, they are led by former communists who are totalitarian at heart and pre-disposed to militarism and strong hands, as in their best days during the cold war. They haven’t assumed the lessons of the First and Second wars, nor their errors in the truce between them. They were taught an entirely different history. These nations were in fact liberated by the "democracies" after the first war, and conquered by Communists after the second. They have neither fully studied nor analysed the events that have shaped them during and after WWII. Poland has trouble adjusting to its NAzi, anti-Semetic past. So do many other nations, as much trouble as they have adjusting to their Communist past.

Europe’s map may be similar to that after the first round in 1921. Europeans are proud of their accomplishments after the end of the war periods, for it really was one war with an uneasy truce in between. Perhaps if Mr Wilson had not gone so over the top for the self-determination of people we’d not have seen such a map, peoples would be living together in their multi-cultural empires, in uneasy and precarious tolerance and the second war might not have been waged. That is all mere speculation, of course. Then again, nothing else described by the Messrs Pipes and Gelernter seems any more intelligent or less speculative. It seems rather a fit, a petulant, vitriolic disdain for their ancestors and their lessons. Pitiful.

Steve Brody - 2/18/2003

Matt, other than your personal diatribe against Pipes, do you have any thoughts on the subject matter?

Matthew Moriarty - 2/17/2003

Professor Pipes is his usual venomous self in this scurrilous piece. That he is Israel's pit bull is transparent, but it won't change the reality that this proposed, hateful war against Iraq is not only unnecessary but is deeply immoral. It is not in our national interest nor even in Israel's national interest to launch this war. The reasons for this are apparent to anyone with an ounce of common sense and humanity. Pipes' talk of appeasement is just nonsense and hysteria. One can imagine his discomfort at this weekend's historic turnout against the war. I am delighted. Richard Pipes should go to Israel where he will be succored by the hatefully determined and mafia infested Likud leadership--a leadership that desperately and insanely wants this war.