08 January 2009 - Appeasers never learn
What is it about the urbane, educated, comfortable elite that makes it so enamored of violent fascism?
Nicholas Kristof revives the appeasement rhetoric of the 1930s in a spineless piece in today's NYT on the Gaza war. After blaming Israel for Hamas's existence and for its support among Palestinians, Kristof offered suggestions for Israeli responses to thousands of incoming rockets:
So what could Israel have reasonably done? Bombing the tunnels through which Gazans smuggle weapons would have been a proportionate response, if Israel had stopped there, and the same is true of airstrikes on certain Hamas targets. An even better approach would have been to ease the siege in Gaza, perhaps creating an environment in which Hamas would have extended the cease-fire.
Kristof clearly knows nothing about the doctrine of proportionality, which he takes as some sort of ghastly body count. (I've covered this topic elsewhere.) What's worse is his suggestion that giving in to Hamas's violent attacks on Israeli civilians would have made Hamas more willing to negotiate a cease-fire.
This is the naked logic of appeasement, and it is even more grotesque today than it was at Munich in 1938, because we ought to have learned something from history.
So why are wise fools like Kristof such easy prey for the false comfort of appeasement?
George Orwell believed that the left intelligentsia of his age, who also fell for the appeasement or pacifist view, did so because they were following the communist line (after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact), because they believed that fascist victory would still allow them to enjoy their material comforts, or because they simply worshiped and romanticized power in its crudest and hence most "authentic" form. Sylvia Plath had a similar idea in her poem "Daddy":
I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You--
Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.
Whatever the reason, I am afraid this sort of moral confusion may be taking over at a time when we can least afford it. Even our president-elect has described Hamas as a group with "legitimate" goals. Here's a reminder to Kristof (and our incoming government) of what Hamas is really about and what the costs of appeasement are likely to be: