Monday, November 25, 2013

Facile Churchill Analogy of the Week

The headline for commentary on the weekend deal with Iran pretty much writes itself:
Peace for Our Time | National Review Online: "Collate reset, lead from behind, “redlines,” “game-changers,” ”deadlines,” the Arab Spring confusion, the skedaddle from Iraq, Benghazi, the Eastern European missile pullback, and the atmosphere is comparable to the 1979–80 Carter landscape, in which after three years of observation, the opportunists at last decided to act while the acting was good, from Afghanistan to Central America to Tehran. 
There is not a good record, from Philip of Macedon to Hitler to Stalin in the 1940s to Carter and the Soviets in the 1970s to radical Islamists in the 1990s, of expecting authoritarians and thugs to listen to reason, cool their aggression, and appreciate democracies’ sober and judicious appeal to logic — once they sense in the West greater eagerness to announce new, rather than to enforce old, agreements."
Of course, the analogy with Munich has its problems. First off, people can always ignore the analogy on the grounds that Hitler analogies are by definition illegitimate--a rhetorical dodge that costs us a lot of good insights, not just about our enemies, but about our own rulers.

In particular, Neville Chamberlain is a good figure to whom to compare Obama in many ways. Both are very well educated and convinced that they are the smartest person in the room. Both are willing and sometimes eager to ignore advice from their opponents. Neither are particularly graceful in taking criticism.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney was not exactly Winston Churchill.

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