The “Kerry as Chamberlain” meme.–

A number of commentators have been making the link between John Kerry and Neville Chamberlain, such as Ed Koch and the guys at Powerline. Long before John Kerry emerged from the pack of Democratic candidates, I was struck by the parallels to England in the 1930s. Although Bush is DEFINITELY no Churchill, the response of intellectuals and the press was quite similar. Churchill was depicted as a simple-minded warmonger who lacked the nuance to deal with Hitler.

The best window into this is the 2d of William Manchester’s Churchill biographies: Last Lion: Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940, a brilliant book.

When Kerry talks of holding bilateral talks with North Korea (after their breach of the Clinton-era Jimmy Carter negotiated agreement) as if this is a solution, I wonder whether he really understands the world. When Kerry talks about going to the UN and signaling a change in US foreign policy (presumably toward a less aggressive posture), I worry that he is just out of touch. I don’t think that John Kerry “gets it.”

The way to deal with threats like 1930s fascism or 2000s Islamofascism is not to wait for a consensus to fight back, because there will never be a world-wide consensus to do so–not when countries would rather negotiate than stop the fascists. Even Tony Blair’s UK negotiated with the terrorists who nonetheless cut off Kenneth Bigley’s head.

With anti-semitism on the rise in Europe, I worry about the future. I was looking at US Gallup Poll data from April 1938. US respondents were asked: “Do you think the persecution of the Jews in Europe has been their own fault?” 65% said that Jewish persecution was “entirely” or “partly” their fault.

For decades, I used to hear “never again.” I didn’t know then what I know now: that many meant “Never again, unless a Republican is President” or “Never again, unless it would mean crediting a Republican with liberating millions of oppressed Iraqis” or “Never again, unless it cost a couple of thousand lives in the US military.”

UPDATE: One of the more incredible stories in Manchester’s 2d Churchill biography is that even after war was declared in 1939, the British government was afraid to make Hitler angry by putting Churchill in the cabinet. Today, some people are more worried that the US is being too aggressive, rather than not aggressive enough.

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