Sometimes when I want to preserve my will to live I forget that George W. Bush is still the POTUS. And then he goes and does something awful to remind me, the bastard:
Bush, in his speech to Israel’s Knesset, sought to push in the wedge on Israel, and security, against Obama, casting the Illinois Senator as Neville Chamberlain to his Churchill:
“Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” he said, with aides telling reporters he meant Obama. “We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.'”
There’s no substance here, obviously. It’s an egregious Godwin’s law violation in service of a political point. But this seems as good a time as any to repeat my firm conviction that Munich analogies are never appropriate. I cannot think of a single occasion since 1945 where pre-emptive action prevented something on par with the Nazi invasion of Poland. I can think of plenty occasions where it ended up blowing back badly (like, er, Iraq), but none where it actually helped upon being heeded, or would have helped if heeded. What’s more, are we really sure that a pre-emptive Anglo-French invasion of Germany in 1938 would have been remembered well? It seems to me that it would have been perceived as unjustified aggression on the part of Daladier and Chamberlain, a continuation of the harsh measures of Versailles, and only repressed the underlying dynamics that lead to the rise of Hitler for a little while longer. Pre-emption only looks good with the benefit of hindsight; at the time, there’s no reason to think it would have earned a positive legacy.
Anyway, have some Editors. This song’s about the Black September massacre, but it does fit into the overall legacy of Munich as an awful, awful city for Jews.