Editor’s note: This column was co-authored by Bob Morrison.
Many of our fellow conservatives are saying that President Obama’s deal with Iran is a “nuclear Munich.” That is, they are comparing the Iranian settlement negotiated over these many months by Secretary John Kerry in that Austrian capital with the Munich capitulation negotiated over mere days in September, 1938, by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
Chamberlain’s failed appeasement of Hitler—as bad as it was—arguably is not as harmful as President Obama’s Vienna concession is. This deal is worse than Chamberlain’s Munich sellout because its implications are immeasurable.
Once Chamberlain had given away Czechoslovakia’s German-speaking Sudetenland region to the Nazi Führer, the umbrella-toting Prime Minister could at least show Hitler’s signature on a joint statement. All the world could see that Hitler said he had no further territorial ambitions in Europe. Chamberlain had a measurable, comprehensible, signed on the dotted line commitment from Adolf Hitler.
If Hitler violated his word, everyone in the world could see it. Hitler apparently agreed with his predecessor Bismarck that “treaties are like piecrusts—they are made to be broken.” It would not take long.
Winston Churchill had been one of the few to rise in Parliament that fall of 1938. The whole world yearned for hope and change. Most unpopular though it was to do so, Churchill denounced the Munich accord. He did this at the time when Chamberlain was still riding high in public opinion.
He said: “We were offered the choice of war or dishonor. We have chosen dishonor. We will have war.” (We have always hated this quote – it poses a false alternative, in that Churchill omitted the third option: honorable peace through the real threat of war).
Churchill concluded his speech in the House of Commons by quoting Scripture. The terrible words of the Prophet Daniel, he said, had been pronounced against the Western democracies: “Thou are weighed in the balance and found wanting.”
Today’s Vienna concession is worse than Munich. It is not so much an agreement as a pretext for further giving way. We will be unable to tell when and if Iran is cheating. Iran will decide when and where we may inspect its nuclear facilities. If Iran keeps certain nuclear research and development sites off the record, and underground, how will we know?
What we do know is that Iran is richer today than yesterday. Overnight, the mullahs are eligible to receive billions of dollars in sanctions relief It’s a form of signing bonus for an international champion violator. This regime has violated every norm of civilized societies.
They seized our U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979—and still hold it. They subjected 52 American hostages to beatings and torture and regular mock executions for 444 days.
They launched suicide bombing and used this tactic to murder 241 U.S. Marines and Navy Corpsmen in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983.
They have abetted the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And they continue to hold four Americans as hostages. One of these, Pastor Saeed Abedini, is in prison for carrying the Gospel of Peace to Iran. There seems to have been no thought given to his freedom, or the other Americans still languishing in prison.
Hitler wanted to take over Austria, his native land. Before the rape of Czechoslovakia, Hitler marched into Vienna in March of 1938. He was greeted ecstatically by Austrian Nazis.
But not by Vienna’s Jews. They were forced to clean the cobblestones of that ancient city’s streets with toothbrushes—as Nazi storm troopers beat and abused them. Many of these brutalized Austrian Jews committed suicide.
The people with whom we have just signed this “historic” Munich Concession daily scream “Death to America” and yell for the Jews’ blood. They are the rhetorical successors of Austria’s Nazis.
And it is in such that President Barack Obama has reposed America’s good faith.
Photo credit: “Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R69173, Münchener Abkommen, Staatschefs” by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R69173 / CC-BY-SA. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons.
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union, and on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.