Point of View
Standing Up To The Playground Bully
By Al Hersk
Jul 15, 2012 - 11:52:24 AM
LOS ANGELES—Stop me if you've heard this one before: a megalomaniac walks into a political conference, with outrageous demands for peace. The punchline of this joke is that the other politicians actually believe him.
Peace: a word which represents the ideals of the best of mankind, and yet is so often so very elusive. Tyrants too often tap into this desire during their ascent to power, after which they swiftly look to crush it.
I remember as a child in history class, hearing about historical figures who ironically hoped that their appeasement of tyrants would be the key to an eventual peace. It was believed that by following the bully leader/nation's demands, the other democratic (or democratically-leaning) nations could continue to enjoy some degree of assumed safety. It seemed clear to me at the time (even as a child) that giving in to a bully is always a bad idea: bullies crave attention and often respond best to force, or to their own medicine. It made little sense to me that statesmen could have forgotten their own childhood days on the playground, and the lesson that bullies only stand down when confronted with equal or greater shows of force.
The bottom line is, appeasement never works in the long-run; not on the playground and certainly not in politics.
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain proudly declared in 1938, after appeasing Hitler, that he had acquired "peace for our time." Of course, his appearance of weakness in allowing Hitler to move forward with his violent annexations of such regions as Alsace-Lorraine and the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland would only encourage the megalomaniacal Hitler and his collaborators to keep grabbing for more.
Today, our own modern incarnation of Chamberlain, President Obama and his cabinet, again stand back and watch as maniacal regimes from such nations as North Korea and Iran barely try to hide their aims for the destruction of the West and the eradication of democracy. Iran continues to move forward in its aims to become a nuclear power, and those who have a moral obligation to stand up to the Iranian bullies are shockingly quiet.
Sanctions are in place on paper, but as many know (and have written upon), there are also loopholes which nations facing sanctions and other financial impresses may easily utilize. And sanctions without enforcement, without teeth, are basically useless.
World leaders understand that a nuclear Iran should realistically be a very troubling thought. British intelligence officials (specifically John Sawers, MI6 head, no less) stated late this week that they had successfully completed a clandestine operation to "foil" Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon years ago, in 2008. Sawers spoke to a sizable crowd in London, explaining the dangers of continuing on the path of allowing a nuclear Iran to become a reality, noting that "huge dangers" would face Western hubs such as the United States and Israel, if Iran was to gain a nuclear weapon.
Savvy diplomats get it: a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. A nuclear Iran will not play by the same rules as a nuclear United States and a nuclear Israel. Why is it that our own top politicians in this country are not acting as strongly as they could, and standing up to the Iranian bully on the playground?
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