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Fighting the Right War By: Joseph Puder
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The West is at a precarious crossroad today with regard to Iran.  It is reminiscent of the situation that existed between the western democracies and Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Fearful of another war after the carnage of World War I, the British and the French chose to appease Hitler rather than fight him, even when time was on their side. 

The cost of war in the modern age is enormous both in terms of human lives, economic devastation, and environmental damage.  The individual and collective tragedies that accompany war are heart wrenching to say the least.  There are times however, when fighting a war against a totalitarian regime with a culture of death is inevitable, and it is preferably fought earlier rather then later.  The cost in human lives alone would attest to that. 

Take for example the case of 1938 Czechoslovakia.  Had the western democracies confronted Hitler militarily rather than appease him with Czech territory, tens of millions of lives would have been saved and the Holocaust could have been prevented.    In 1938, the Czech army was strong and professional, and the German Wehrmacht’s use of a Blitzkrieg in the hilly and wooded area separating the two countries would have been disastrous.  Moreover, the Czechs fortifications along their border with Germany were solid and would have given the Czech defenders a definite advantage.


France had signed an agreement with the Czechs offering support if Czechoslovakia was attacked.   The Soviet Union also gave the Czechs a promise to help if attacked.  Hitler knew however that the allied democracies would not go to war over Czechoslovakia. Internal chaos in the case of the USSR and appeasement, in the case of France, left the Czechs to face the Nazis alone.  Still, the Czech’s were strong enough to deter a Nazi attack.


Nazi Germany therefore decided to use “salami tactics” - cutting Czechoslovakia in slices.  First came the German speaking Sudetenland.  British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich, Germany to negotiate with Hitler.  Hitler, who had outlined his intentions, vis-à-vis the Jews and Europe in Mein Kampf, was steadfast – though he slyly made promises to the contrary to Chamberlain.  Wishful thinking rather than a true assessment of reality prevailed, however, leading Chamberlain to return from Munich believing that he had gotten through to Hitler and that Hitler’s signature on the piece of   paper he clasped in his hand was, as he declared infamously, evidence that “I brought you peace in our time.” In the process of negotiating “peace in our time,” Chamberlain sold out the Czech democracy leaving Hitler to take over its strong army and arms industries and use them against the western allies.


Had Neville Chamberlain and E’douard Daladier, the French President, exercised the military option instead of appeasement on behalf of the Czechs, and sent even a symbolic force to the Czech border, Hitler’s takeover of Czechoslovakia would have been foiled, and a likely coup d’état by the Wehrmacht generals would have cut short Hitler’s megalomania and the Holocaust.


While there were few such historic precedents in 1938, we have them available to us today.  We know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, much like Hitler, has a vision of a triumphalist Islamic Iran.  He has declared his intention “to wipe Israel off the map,” in much the same way as Hitler declared his intention to wipe out the Jews of Europe.  And, we know that Iran’s Ahmadinejad, like Hitler before him, has been paying close attention to the anti-war voices in the mainstream U.S. media, in the democratic party, and the likes of Pat Bucanan, and believes that the U.S. and other western democracies have lost their “will to fight” and that the U.S. is a “paper tiger.”   

There is a feeling of de’ja'vu in the air.   Iran is arrogantly defying the international community by continuing its quest for nuclear weapons just as Hitler did in defiance of the Versailles Treaty, which limited Germany to an army of only 100,000 men, no tanks and no air-force, only six capital ships, and no submarines.  The western powers including the U.S. are engaged in futile negotiations with Iran, knowing full well that the mullah regime in Tehran will not be deterred by ineffective sanctions or induced by economic incentives.  Totalitarian regimes like Hitler’s Germany and Ahmadinejad’s Iran do not think in terms of economic improvements for their people, or a higher standard of living that might result from increased trade and investments in Iran. 

If Iran should acquire nuclear weapons it would initially use them against Jewish Israel, then against Europe and ultimately against the “Great Satan” (the U.S.), in much the same way Hitler’s Germany strategized its attacks.  Iran has been gradually increasing the range of its missiles and now its Shihab is capable of hitting all points in Israel and possibly some in Europe.  Like Hitler’s Germany (in the case of Austria and the Sudetenland), it is using the Shiite populations in the Arab Gulf States and in Lebanon to undermine the pro-western regime in Lebanon and the governments of the Gulf States.  It is meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the process, killing American soldiers directly and indirectly with virtual impunity.  Finally, its support for Islamist anti-American terrorism poses a major threat to the U.S. domestic security.

It is obvious why the radical Islamic regime in Tehran considers the U.S. a “paper tiger.”  The Khomeini dictatorship invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for more than a year.  Jimmy Carter’s retaliatory raid against Iran (like his term in office) was a disaster.  The bodies of charred American commandos were paraded in the streets of Tehran.  Iranian agents attacked American servicemen in Europe, and in recent years in Iraq; 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut and 19 U.S. servicemen in Saudi Arabia (Khobar Towers) were murdered by Iran ’s terrorist arm-Hezbollah.  America has a lingering score to settle with the Islamic theocracy of Iran but has yet to take action.

Spanish-born philosopher George Santayana observed that, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”  The history of the 20th century teaches us that there can be no compromising with evil.  Iran ’s Ahmadinejad believes in hastening the arrival of the Mahdi - the eschatological Shiite Messiah - through holy war against the infidels.  Senator John McCain articulated America’s dilemma most succinctly, he said, "The only thing worse than a war with Iran is an Iran with nuclear weapons."  To save lives and the international economy, it would be better to attack Iran before it is in possession of nuclear weapons.

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