In Mike Giordano’s letter of Sept 25 he tells us that Saddam Hussein should not be appeased, as Adolf Hitler was before him, because if he is, it may result in catastrophe.
Mr. Giordano’s example of Neville Chamberlain is, in my opinion, not fair. Historical hindsight has treated Chamberlain abominably.
As United Kingdom prime minister, Chamberlain negotiated a tenuous peace with Adolf Hitler who had invaded and conquered neighboring territories.
What many forget is that Hitler gave good (and false) reasons for his militarism, saying German residents had been murdered and the invaded peoples wanted him there, etc.
Hindsight reveals that the only motive present was Hitler’s thirst for territory.
Chamberlain, in his defense, was only looking to prevent war. People who live in the 21st century often don’t realize just how devastated Europe was after World War I.
Never before had death and destruction occurred on such a grand scale. There was an amazing pacifist sentiment in the years that followed that has never been equaled. It is this sentiment that is embodied in the Munich Conference, where Chamberlain granted Hitler the territories he already had, providing he ended his expansion. Hitler agreed.
It looked at the time as if World War II had been averted.
The problem here is that Mr. Giordano knows that, after Munich, Hitler would eventually order the murder of 6 million Jews. He knows that war with Germany would cost 25 million Russian lives. Mr. Chamberlain did not.
The only way Chamberlain could have known what Hitler was thinking was to read Mein Kampf (which wasn’t on many reading lists in Britain, I dare say). Even then he would have known only that Hitler felt the Aryans superior and planned the forced relocation of an entire race, which was sadly a popular sentiment with other people at the time (such as Franklin Roosevelt during World War II).
Still, Chamberlain most likely did not know this. He only wished to prevent a world war at all costs. And for this, history blames him?
Now, to relate this to Mr. Giordano’s comments on Iraq. He sees appeasement as a bad idea. He feels it is the only way to avoid another September 11th.
I have this to say about appeasement: What if it works? Surely we all want to avoid war and death on a massive scale. Shouldn’t every effort be made to avert it?
Mr. Giordano wants to prevent another September 11th, and so do I, but Iraqi civilians dying in Baghdad are just as dead as American civilians dying in New York. Surely what we all want is for no one to die. And, we cannot take the chance that this war might be averted by other means.
I do understand the realistic possibility that Saddam will be uncooperative; that he could do what Hitler did-agree to our demands only to attack us later. He might, but we cannot assume that he will. Facing American military might and the United Nations standing firm, there is a good possibility that Saddam will be forced to back down. If he does not, if appeasement fails, then surely the highly trained armed forces of the US and UK can overthrow his government with (hopefully) minimal casualties.
Surely we must seek to avoid the death of noncombatants, women, and children, and the thousands of refugees that are created by the horrors of war.