It’s late at night, and I’m still thinking about US foreign policy, Iraq, and war. One of the most common arguments from the pro-war camp (they bang it like a drum), is that being against going to war with Iraq is the equivalent of the appeasement of the Nazi regime that took place at the beginning of the World War II. The short story of appeasement is that Germany was making certain demands, and the British government thought that by conceding to some of those demands, a larger war could be avoided.
Does this sound anything at all like what’s going on with Iraq to you? Iraq has a devastated military, nobody is afraid that Iraq is going to start a war with them, and indeed, Iraq is making no demands of the international community. They want the sanctions against them lifted, but they’re not making threats to get them lifted. (They have in the past, and when they did, they were assured that they’d get a savage beating if they carried out those threats. That seemed to work.) My point here isn’t that we should allow Saddam to continue to run Iraq, but that claiming that opposition to the war constitutes appeasement is just, well, stupid.
On the other hand, how would you describe the agreement of some Arab countries to participate (or at least tolerate) the war? What we have is the most powerful country in the world threatening to invade another country in a war of aggression, and set up a military government in that country after it wins. This country recently intervened in a civil war in another country, set up a client regime, and still has troops on the ground in that country. It’s also well known that certain elements of this country’s government have visions of ongoing war against various other countries and replacement of their regimes as well.
Could the acquiescence of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Muslim countries to war with Iraq be seen as appeasement of the United States? Are they not making concessions that they don’t agree with in hopes of avoiding war themselves? I bet you that Syria (as the state most devoted to the pan-Arab nationalist philosophy) would say they were.
What’s my point here? Mainly, that people should shut up about appeasement. It’s a lame and pathetic argument that really has no basis in history. Unless they’re prepared to listen to Arab states talk about appeasement of the US, they should stop talking about appeasement of Iraq.
Update: I’ve posted more on appeasement.