On Thursday, President Bush addressed the Knesset in Jerusalem, and made the following remarks…
Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
The remarks were taken in the US as an ‘outrage,’ and a slap in the face to Barack Obama, who has indicated that he would be willing to talk with our adversaries. But to talk to our enemies–to at least initiate a conversation–is not appeasement. That’s when you give your enemy something that he wants so that, hopefully, he’ll go away and not bother you again.
Years ago, we considered communism as radical, if not necessarily terrorist. Yet we talked with the Russians and the Chinese, and despite their far greater power to destroy us than the current threat, we were able to keep the world in one piece.
It doesn’t hurt, other than from the standpoint of national pride, of which we have more than enough, to try to talk to our enemies, recognizing, however, that they may not want to talk to us. One of the essential reasons that our enemies are our enemies is that they believe that their cause is right, and Bush is correct in noting that it’s really unlikely that “some ingenious argument will persuade them that they have been wrong all along.”
On the other hand, if Bush is looking to lecture someone about the futility of negotiating with terrorists, he needed only to look around him in the Knesset, or in a mirror.
For decades, Israel has been engaged in one ‘peace process’ or another in which it concedes something of value to its enemies (who are sworn to Israel’s destruction) in exchange for peace, but the peace never materializes. (Can someone explain to me how this differs from appeasement?)
The Palestinians, with at least the tacit consent of their government, launch rockets into Israel, and Israel, for its part, keeps a stiff upper lip about the destruction they cause. On the other hand, if Israel exercises its right of retaliation, they are quickly brought to heel by world opinion for having created a ‘humanitarian crisis.’
For his part, after his trip to Israel, Our Fearless Leader went to Riyadh, where he tried to persuade the Saudis to open the spigots and produce more oil. The Saudis said no. Bush made a similar trip earlier this year, complaining about how the high price of oil was affecting the American economy, with the same result.
On the one hand, the Saudis probably see themselves as businessmen, facing one of the basic problems of any business: establishing the most satisfactory price for their product. But then why are we trying to bend over backwards to be their friends? (Oh, that’s right: we do that anyway: at all levels of government, we’re more than happy to help big businesses because they will purportedly help the economy.)
On the other hand, the Saudi government does things to its people that would result in armed revolution if anyone tried them here. And Saudi Arabia is the homeland of most of the 11 September hijackers.
So are they really our friends?
I don’t know, but I guess we have to keep up the illusion that they are, because otherwise they won’t sell us oil, and then we’ll all starve.