Sunday, May 18, 2008

Talking about Appeasement

Just about everybody has seen this video of Chris Matthews shredding neocon radio personality Kevin James, but it's so funny I must remark on it:

So what happened here? I mean besides Chris Matthews humiliating this Kevin James kid who I had never heard of before. My take on this video is that somebody handed Kevin a 3x5 index card of "key terms," and he arrogantly went up against people who know much, much more than he does. Kevin needs to learn that Google, Wikipedia, and history books are his friends. It would have taken 2 minutes to research why Neville Chamberlain is considered an appeaser. In fact, the Munich Agreement is mentioned in the second paragraph of Neville Chamberlain's Wikipedia entry.

While on Wikipedia, Kevin could have also researched the word "appeasement":
Most commonly, appeasement is used for the policy of accepting the imposed conditions of an aggressor in lieu of armed resistance, usually at the sacrifice of principles. Usually it means giving in to demands of an aggressor in order to avoid war. Since World War II, the term has gained a negative connotation in the British government, in politics and in general, of weakness, cowardice and self-deception.
And then Kevin, if capable, could have pondered a bit... does this describe Barack Obama? Who has Obama appeased? Obama wants to talk to Iran instead of starting another knee-jerk war. Talking does not mean appeasement.

Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of conservatives, was considered by some to be an appeaser. He met with Gorbachev to negotiate a reduction in nuclear weapons... a reduction in both countries' arsenals. And while Reagan was at these summits with Gorbachev, he also convinced him to allow a little more Democracy in the old USSR. I'm not sure what exactly Reagan said, but it must have been one of those "ingenious arguments" that George W. Bush can't fathom.

In the past few years, there has been quite a devolution in diplomacy. I can summarize Bush's idea of negotiations: first, the other country must pre-concede to all our demands. Then, maybe we'll sit down to talk. Upon meeting with the other leaders, we'll tell them exactly which of their demands we will compromise on or ignore. Then, quite possibly, we'll bomb them anyway.

At the heart of this mentality is a craving for war which I will never understand.

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