The Bush Administration has publicly stated that it does not intend to take military action against North Korea, even though North Korea just claimed to have tested a nuclear weapon and may even have done it.
Trying diplomacy first is a popular thing to do. Hoping that it will succeed is understandable. But, a change of intention eventually will be required if the People's Republic of China really believes that such military action is "unimaginable" and decides that it is not in its own best interest to reign in the rambunctious rogue regime that depends upon it for sustenance as well as protection in the United Nations.
A private message to the People's Republic of China that the United States will not be participating in the 2008 Olympics if the North Korea threat to peace and stability is not eliminated should do wonders for the People's Republic of China's imagination AND induce it to be much more helpful to its favorite trading partner.
The People's Republic of China needs to remember that President Bush boldly advocated preemptive war under certain circumstances and finally decided that giving Saddam Hussein seventeen chances to comply with United Nations resolutions was enough.
What are utterly unacceptable are the United States being blackmailed by a petty tyrant like North Korea's Kim Sung Il or permitting Kim to be in a position to attack the United States or an ally of the United States with a nuclear weapon, directly or indirectly.
How many times must the lesson that appeasing a tyrant ultimately makes things worse be taught before it is finally learned?
Wikipedia on British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940): "Chamberlain is perhaps the most ill-regarded British Prime Minister of the 20th century, largely because of his policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany regarding the abandonment of Czechoslovakia to Hitler at Munich in 1938."
Neville Chamberlain, September 30, 1938 upon return to London after the Munich Conference: "For the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time....Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."
Mr. Chamberlain was terribly wrong, of course. In less than a year, World War I began with the Nazis invading Poland. Adolph Hitler's appetite had been whetted, not satisfied.
In 1940, a Harvard College senior opined that the blame of appeasement was widely shared. In addition to Mr. Chamberlain, he blamed "democratic government, a free press, public elections, and a cabinet responsible to Parliament and thus to the people, given rule by the majority...."
The writer's position: "To say that all the blame must rest on the shoulders of Neville Chamberlain or of Stanley Baldwin, is to overlook the obvious. As the leaders, they are, of course, gravely and seriously responsible. But, given the conditions of democratic government, a free press, public elections, and a cabinet responsible to Parliament and thus to the people, given rule by the majority, it is unreasonable to blame the entire situation on one man or group..."
The writer was right about that.
The writer turned his senior thesis into a book (Why England Slept).
Twenty years later, the writer became what Al Gore and John Kerry so far have only aspired to be, a successful Democrat presidential candidate.
The writer was John F. Kennedy.
When confronted with the Cuban Missile Crisis, he did not appease: he imposed a blockade (a blockade being an act of war) and insisted that the missiles in Cuba be removed.
Fortunately, he was wrong about a missile gap having developed during the Eisenhower administration and the Soviet Union blinked.
Kennedy's book was a follow up to While England Slept, a book written by Winston Churchill in 1938.
When it came to the fecklessness (or should I write stupidity?) of appeasement, both Kennedy and Churchill appreciated it.
"Dear Mr Churchill…The danger to world peace and to the freer nations arising from the Fascist dictator states…has been present in my mind from the first…The ideals and practices of Fascism are obviously directed towards war and conquest…Had Fascist aggression in Africa [Italian invasion of Abyssinia, now Ethiopia] been firmly checked at the start, the world would present a very different picture today. The mood of Hitler would undoubtedly be much less aggressive than it is…I again call upon you to raise these matters in the House of Commons... "
So wrote Sylvia Pankhurst, wisely, to Winston Churchill on April 15, 1936.
"The Czechoslovak Republic [Czechoslovakia] is being broken up before our eyes. Their gold is to be stolen by the Nazis. The Nazi system is to blot out every form of internal freedom…They are about to lose all symbols of an independent democratic State…Many people at the time of the September crisis thought they were only giving away the interests of Czechoslovakia, but with every month that passes you will see that they were also giving away the interests of Britain, and the interests of peace and justice."
So wrote Winston Churchill, on March 14, 1939.
America won the Cold War, but keeping the peace requires more than good intentions.
In 2000, in a provocative book titled While America Sleeps: Self-Delusion, Military Weakness, and the Threat to Peace Today, (St. Martin's Press, 2000), Donald Kagan, a Yale Professor of history and classics, and his son and coauthor Frederick, a professor of history at West Point, sternly warned: "America is in danger. Unless its leaders change their national security policy, the peace and safety its power and influence have ensured since the end of the Cold War will disappear."
Bruce Fellman, in a Yale Alumni Magazine article about Professor Kagan ("Lion in Winter") in the April 2002 issue, emphasized the importance of keeping the peace:
"In their eerily prescient assessment, the Kagans explained that the United States in the 1990s and the current decade was in many ways chillingly similar to Great Britain after the First World War. Two earlier works -- While England Slept, by Winston Churchill, and Why England Slept, by John F. Kennedy -- had examined the implications of Great Britain's failure to play the role of peacekeeper in the 1920s and 1930s. The failure, Churchill and Kennedy argued, led to the Second World War. Don Kagan expressed the fear that this country was on the same and, in his view, avoidable path.
"'If there was one word we meant to communicate in our book it was worry,' says Kagan. 'People might think of us as alarmists, but we think there's something to be alarmed about. The peace does not keep itself, and though it may be intellectually unfashionable to say so, the world needs a policeman.'"
The North Korean problem has become more serious because the Clinton Administration mistakenly believed that bribery would work.
Wikipedia's segment on North Korea in its article on President Clinton briefly sets forth many of the pertinent facts:
"North Korea's feared aim to create nuclear weapons and ballistic weapons was a serious problem for the Clinton Administration. In 1994, North Korea, a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, refused to allow international inspectors to review two nuclear waste sites. The inspectors wanted to see if North Korea was in violation of the treaty since they were suspected of reprocessing spent fuel into plutonium, which could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. Despite diplomatic pressure and repeated warnings by Clinton, North Korea refused to allow the inspections and even raised the prospect of war with South Korea, an ally of the United States.
"After private diplomacy by former president Jimmy Carter, the Clinton administration reached a breakthrough with North Korea in October 1994 when North Korea agreed to shut down the nuclear plants that could produce materials for weapons if the United States would help North Korea build plants that generated electricity with light-water nuclear reactors. These reactors would be more efficient and their waste could not easily be used for nuclear weaponry. The United States also agreed to supply fuel oil for electricity until the new plants were built, and North Korea agreed to allow inspection of the old waste sites when construction began on the new plants. This 1994 Agreed Framework, as it was known, kept the Yongbyon plutonium enrichment plant closed and under international inspection until 2002. After which North Korea broke off the treaty and restarted plutonium production. In October of 2006, North Korea tested their first nuclear weapon."
What Wikipedia did not mention was that North Korea has been run by thugs who schnookered the Clinton Administration, violated the Agreed Framework from the start and used all the benefits received by North Korea under the Agreed Framework (except perhaps that basketball signed by Michael Jordan) to make themselves a greater threat than they would have been otherwise.
When President Bush identified Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an Axis of Evil, he was right. Just as President Ronald Reagan was right to identify the Soviet Empire as an "evil empire."
President Bush used the term “axis of evil” in his 2002 State of the Union Address to describe regimes that sponsor terrorism and seek weapons of mass destruction.
What President Bush then said was lucid and logical:
"[Our goal] is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.
"Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Irainian people's hope for freedom.
"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens—leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections—then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.
"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."
As history teaches, the price of appeasement can be catastrophic.
When Hitler occupied the Rhineland in 1936, his occupation was allowed to stand, because France and Great Britain then were too timid to fight and/or too easily humbugged. It was France (YES, France!) that called upon Great Britain to stand up to Adolf Hitler and British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin who refused. Prime Minister Baldwin told the French Foreign Minister: “[I]f there is even one chance in a hundred that war would follow from your [proposed] police operation [to oust Germany’s military forces from the Rhineland], I have not the right to commit England. England is not in a state to go to war."
Winston Churchill, in The Gathering Storm, straightforwardly described the Rhineland occupation and the reaction to it: “It was not only a breach of an obligation exacted by force of arms in war and of the Treaty of Locarno, signed freely in full peace, but the taking advantage of a friendly evacuation by the Allies of the Rhineland several years before it was due. The news caused a world-wide sensation. The French Government…uprose in vociferous wrath and appealed to all its allies and to the League….Here if ever was the violation, not only of the Peace Treaty, but of the Treaty of Locarno; and an obligation binding upon all the Powers concerned.”
For those wondering why France is so resentful of the United States and Great Britain and obstructionist, part of the answer lies in their failure to support France in 1936.
Churchill reported: “In France there was a hideous shock. [The French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister] had the impulse to act at once by general mobilisation. If they had been equal to their task, they would have done so; and thus compelled all others to come into line. It was a vital issue for France.
But they appeared unable to move without the concurrence of Britain. This is an explanation, but no excuse. The issue was vital to France, and any French Government worthy of the name should have made up its own mind and trusted to the Treaty obligations….they did not meet with any encouragement to resist the German aggression from the British. On the contrary, if they hesitated to act, their British allies did not hesitate to dissuade them. During the whole of Sunday there were agitated telephonic conversations between London and Paris. His Majesty’s Government exhorted the French to wait in order that both countries might act jointly and after full consideration. A velvet carpet for retreat!”
What was the French Foreign Minister’s frank appraisal of the situation, as conveyed to the English at the time?
”The whole world and especially the small nations today turn their eyes toward England. If England will act now, she can lead Europe. [England] will have a policy, all the world will follow [England], and thus [England] will prevent war.
It is [England’s] last chance. If [England] do[es] not stop Germany now, all is over. France cannot guarantee Czechoslovakia any more because that will become geographically impossible. If [England] do[es] not maintain the Treaty of Locarno, all that will remain to [England] is to await a rearmament by Germany, against which France can do nothing. If [England] do[es] not stop Germany by force today, war is inevitable, even if [England] make[s] a temporary friendship with Germany As for myself, I do not believe that friendship is possible between France and Germany; the two countries will always be in tension. Nevertheless, if [England] abandon[s] Locarno, I shall change my policy, for there will be nothing else to do.”
What did Great Britain do?
”The British Cabinet, seeking the line of least resistance, felt that the easiest way out was to press France into another appeal to the League of Nations,” which had been “weakened and disheartened by the fiasco of sanctions and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement….”
Did the League of Nations cause Germany’s military forces to leave the Rhineland?
Of course not.
What would have happened if France had initiated military action instead?
”If the French Government had mobilised the French Army, with nearly a hundred divisions and its air force (then still falsely believed to be the strongest in Europe), there is no doubt that Hitler would have been compelled by his own General Staff to withdraw, and a check would have been given to his pretensions which might well have proved fatal to his rule. It must be remembered that France alone was at this time quite strong enough to drive the Germans out of the Rhineland, even without the aid which her own action, once begun, and the invocation of the Locarno Treaty would certainly have drawn from Great Britain.”
So wrote Winston Churchill, who understood Nazi Germany infinitely better than his predecessors as Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain.
Today the United Nations Security Council exists to adopt resolutions, but not to enforce them in a meaningful way.
The United States needs to remember (1) what Founder Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, then a Minister to France, replied when a Frenchman solicited a bribe: "Millions for defence, but not a damned penny for tribute" and (2)
confronting Hitler in 1936 (or 1938) would have been better than confronting him in 1939.
Let's NOT wait for North Korea to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to carry them to the United States. (Yes, President Reagan was right about Star Wars too! For such foresight, Mr. President, a wiser America now humbly thanks you). A person like Charles Cotesworth Pinckney might not be President and Commander-in-Chief at the time. Diplomacy can be given its chance, but should not be futilely pursued like a hopeless romance.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.