In an effort to back up Obama's gaffe that he'll "talk" to anyone, even terrorists, as if diplomacy in and of itself was a cure all, editorial writer Bruce Ramsey of the Seattle Times has made a gaffe of his own that, in essence, makes the claim that negotiating with Adolf Hitler was perfectly reasonable even as each concession given to him by Europe's prewar powers obviously gave him every reason to be brave enough to start WWII. Ramsey seems to be trying to justify the appeasement of Hitler in order to give Barack Obama the cover he needs to make his inexperience and naiveté seem less detrimental to his presidential ambitions.
Ramsey is worried, he says, about the "continual reference to Hitler and his National Socialists, particularly the British and French accommodation at the Munich Conference of 1938." He feels that it was completely reasonable to cave in to Hitler in those days prior to the war.
What Hitler was demanding was not unreasonable. He wanted the German-speaking areas of Europe under German authority. He had just annexed Austria, which was German-speaking, without bloodshed. There were two more small pieces of Germanic territory: the free city of Danzig and the Sudetenland, a border area of what is now the Czech Republic.
We live in an era when you do not change national borders for these sorts of reasons. But in 1938 it was different. Germany’s eastern and western borders had been redrawn 19 years before-and not to its benefit. In the democracies there was some sense of guilt with how Germany had been treated after World War I. Certainly there was a memory of the “Great War.” In 2008, we have entirely forgotten World War I, and how utterly unlike any conception of “The Good War” it was. When the British let Hitler have a slice of Czechoslovakia, they were following their historical wisdom: avoid war. War produces results far more horrible than you expected. War is a bad investment. It is not glorious. Don’t give anyone an excuse to start one.
After all, Ramsey says, Europe didn't want a war, so just giving in to Hitler was not an "unreasonable" reaction to Hitler's demands. So, since the rest of Europe couldn't have realized how ruthless and evil Hitler was, their actions were just fine with Ramsey. If it was fine back then, he obviously imagines, it should be fine today. Since we cannot know the future, he seems to be saying, always caving in to tyrants just in case they won't turn out to be tyrants should be just fine.
This also seems like Obama's message.
Ramsey worries that calling people a Hitler damages any chance to "talk" to them. Ramsey says, "but who else is a Hitler? If you paste that label on somebody it means they are cast out. You can't talk to them any more." But, the only reason someone can legitimately be cast into a Hitler category is because of their actual actions, rhetoric and policies. Ramsey names Milosevic, Hussein, and Ahmadinejad in his piece as if calling them a version of Hitler is unwarranted. But, each of these men have committed crimes against humanity that warrant such a tag being placed on them. These are (and were) evil, evil men. Why does Ramsey discount their actual crimes so easily?
Also, it should be recalled that Hitler and the men that Ramsey seemed to think deserve the benefit of the doubt have all made their intentions quite clear previous to any action taken. As John Ray over at stoptheaclu.com reminds us:
They were ignoring evidence that they did not want to see. As far back as Volume I chapter 4 of Mein Kampf, Hitler had made clear his intention to grab for Germany the territory of other nations. But people just did not want to believe that he really meant it.
Obama has made claims that Ahmadinejad would be one of the people he'd "talk" to. Yet, Ahmadinejad has made it quite clear that he intends to kill as many Americans and Jews as he can.
Is THIS the sort of person that Ramsey and Obama think they can negotiate with?
In any case, as far as Ramsey goes, he obviously was hit pretty hard over the weekend for his simple-minded analysis because he substantially changed what he originally wrote. Still, even the new, altered version of his original post fails the common sense test. Negotiating with people who have repeatedly announced their desire for genocide and wide spread warfare, destruction, and empire building just isn't a reasonable idea. And appeasing their lust for power and death is an even worse one.