English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain came home from a meeting with Hitler in Munich in September 1938 with the triumphant notion that he brought with him “peace for our times” in the form of some nonsensical agreement with a treacherous tyrant, Adolf Hitler.
Very few men were able to realize that you cannot make peace with a wolf by feeding it. When it is hungry, it will come again to the world’s door and that is exactly what happened.
Lord Hugh Cecil, an English contemporary politician would describe it like “scratching a crocodile’s head in the hope of making it purr.”
Chamberlain had a piece of paper, a set of words — nothing of substance.
The Munich Agreement/Betrayal
For you strict historians out there, the Munich Agreement was based on the following:
1. The parties were England, the French Third Republic, the Kingdom of Italy and Nazi Germany — which is to say Hitler and his toadies.
2. In the Munich Betrayal, the Czechs, who were not even at the bargaining table, gave up the Sudetenland — 3,000,000 mostly German speakers in western Czechoslovakia who Hitler demanded be ceded to Germany because — well, because, he wanted them.
3. Hitler promised Chamberlain and the others that this would be his last free meal in Europe and that everybody could go home and blare the trumpets in triumph.
Of course, the Germans invaded Poland one year later and invaded France and the Low Countries eight months after Poland. So much for appeasement.
Middle East Peace, why, Big Red Car?
The Trump admin has made real progress in the Middle East in matters of substance, unlike the blandishments of Munich in 1938.
We are on the verge of peace breaking out in the Middle East for a number of reasons:
1. We have finally chosen sides in the Middle East with teams and pragmatic leaders that have a chance of making peace.
We have finally teed it up with Iran which gives countries in the region a reason to believe American resolve.
2. The US is on friendly terms with both Israel and Saudi Arabia at the same time.
3. The US has kept its promise to Israel to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
This may seem ceremonial, but an American President promised to do this in 1995 and it has taken a long time to become reality. President Trump did this.
4. The US recognized Israel sovereignty over the Golan Heights won by Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
5. The US has finally and conclusively identified Iran as the largest disruptive force in the region and is confronting them at every turn.
6. The US took out the head of the Iranian Quds terror organization which had been threatening to overthrow both the leaders of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — for years.
This was no small action and, again, it demonstrated American resolve to make things happen, to tame Iran, to take the fight to the Iranians.
7. The US twisted Israel’s arm to stop developing the West Bank settlements, a critical, substantive element in persuading the Arab countries in the region that the US was an honest broker.
8. The US cut off funding to the Palestinians thereby punishing them for not being an active and willing partner in the peace process.
How can anyone take the US seriously if we fund the opposition? Why should we?
9. The US used its influence with both the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain to persuade them to make peace with Israel and to enter into full diplomatic relations including building embassies in each other’s capitals plus an exchange of ambassadors.
This is the largest and most substantive action to happen in that part of the world in the last three decades. It is real and it is a precursor to other countries similarly situated following suit.
Israel is already on good terms with Egypt and Jordan. Saudi Arabia will make its move soon.
10. Oddly, the US attainment of energy independence figures into the peace process as the US no longer needs Middle East oil which means the leverage of OPEC is now non-existent. This is three dimensional chess.
It is only because of these substantive actions — not empty promises — that peace is going to take root in the Middle East.
We are a long way from the finish line, but we are also a long way from the starting line.
Well done, America. Well done, President Trump. Give the guy the Nobel Peace Prize because he deserves it.