Thursday, March 5, 2015

Krauthammer: Netanyahu’s Churchillian warning

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Netanyahu told Congress that negotiations underway between Iran and the U.S. would "all but guarantee" that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

By Charles Krauthammer

Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress was notable in two respects. Queen Esther got her first standing O in 2,500 years. And President Obama came up empty in his campaign to preemptively undermine Netanyahu before the Israeli prime minister could present his case on the Iran negotiations.
On the contrary. The steady stream of slights and insults turned an irritant into an international event and vastly increased the speech’s audience and reach. Instead of dramatically unveiling an Iranian nuclear deal as a fait accompli, Obama must now first defend his Iranian diplomacy.
In particular, argues The Post, he must defend its fundamental premise. It had been the policy of every president since 1979 that Islamist Iran must be sanctioned and contained. Obama, however, is betting instead on detente to tame Iran’s aggressive behavior and nuclear ambitions.
For six years, Obama has offered the mullahs an extended hand. He has imagined that with Kissingerian brilliance he would turn the Khamenei regime into a de facto U.S. ally in pacifying the Middle East. For his pains, Obama has been rewarded with an Iran that has ramped up its aggressiveness in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen, and brazenly defied the world on uranium enrichment.
He did the same with Russia. He offered Vladimir Putin a new detente. “Reset,” he called it. Putin responded by decimating his domestic opposition, unleashing a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign, ravaging Ukraine and shaking the post-Cold War European order to its foundations.
Like the Bourbons, however, Obama learns nothing. He persists in believing that Iran’s radical Islamist regime can be turned by sweet reason and fine parchment into a force for stability. It’s akin to his refusal to face the true nature of the Islamic State, Iran’s Sunni counterpart. He simply can’t believe that such people actually believe what they say.
That’s what made Netanyahu’s critique of the U.S.-Iran deal so powerful. Especially his dissection of the sunset clause. In about 10 years, the deal expires. Sanctions are lifted and Iran is permitted unlimited uranium enrichment with an unlimited number of centrifuges of unlimited sophistication. As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens points out, we don’t even allow that for democratic South Korea.
 The prime minister offered a concrete alternative. Sunset? Yes, but only after Iran changes its behavior, giving up its regional aggression and worldwide support for terror.
Netanyahu’s veiled suggestion was that such a modification — plus a significant reduction in Iran’s current nuclear infrastructure, which the Obama deal leaves intact — could produce a deal that “Israel and its [Arab] neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally.”
Obama’s petulant response was: “The prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.” But he just did: conditional sunset, smaller infrastructure. And if the Iranians walk away, then you ratchet up sanctions, as Congress is urging, which, with collapsed oil prices, would render the regime extremely vulnerable.
And if that doesn’t work? Hence Netanyahu’s final point: Israel is prepared to stand alone, a declaration that was met with enthusiastic applause reflecting widespread popular support.
It was an important moment, especially because of the libel being perpetrated by some that Netanyahu is trying to get America to go to war with Iran. This is as malicious a calumny as Charles Lindbergh’s charge on Sept. 11, 1941, that “the three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration.”
In its near-70 year history, Israel has never once asked America to fight for it. Not in 1948 when 650,000 Jews faced 40 million Arabs. Not in 1967 when Israel was being encircled and strangled by three Arab armies. Not in 1973 when Israel was on the brink of destruction. Not in the three Gaza wars or the two Lebanon wars.
Compare that to a very partial list of nations for which America has fought and for which so many Americans have fallen: Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea, and every West European country beginning with France (twice).
Change the deal, strengthen the sanctions, give Israel a free hand. Netanyahu offered a different path in his clear, bold and often moving address, Churchillian in its appeal to resist appeasement. This was not Churchill of the 1940s, but Churchill of the 1930s, the wilderness prophet. Which is why for all its sonorous strength, Netanyahu’s speech had a terrible poignancy. After all, Churchill was ignored.

Churchill’s warnings in the 1930s, during the wilderness years:

Speech delivered on the BBC radio, 10pm, 15 November 1934  

After all, my friends, only a few hours away by air there dwell a nation of nearly seventy millions of the most educated, industrious, scientific, disciplined people in the world, who are being taught from childhood to think of war as a glorious exercise and death in battle as the noblest fate for man.

There is a nation which has abandoned all its liberties in order to augment its collective strength. There is a nation which, with all its strength and virtue, is in the grip of a group of ruthless men, preaching a gospel of intolerance and racial pride, unrestrained by law, by parliament, or by public opinion. In that country all pacifist speeches, all morbid war books are forbidden or suppressed, and their authors rigorously imprisoned. From their new table of commandments they have omitted "thou shall not kill."

March 19, 1935, House of Commons

Here, again, mystery shrouds all German preparations. At various points facts emerge which enable a general view to be taken. Enormous sums of money are being spent on German aviation and upon other armaments. I wish we could get at the figures which are being spent upon armaments. I believe that they would stagger us with the terrible, tale they would tell of the immense panoply which that nation of nearly 70,000,000 of people is assuming, or has already largely assumed. But there are certain things which strike one. For instance, the population of Dessau increased during last year by 13,000 people. Dessau is a centre of the great Junkers' aeroplane works, but it is only one of four or five main air factories of Germany. There are at least 20 others of a secondary but important character; and 13,000 people are known to have entered the town of Dessau—I do not say that they are all workers—in the course of last year. One can see what the scale of production must be. Further, owing to the fact that the Germans had to prepare their air force in secret and unofficially, there has grown up a somewhat different method of producing aircraft from that which obtains in this country and in France. Much smaller elements are actually made in the main factories than are made over here. Nuts and bolts and small parts are spread over an enormous producing area of small firms, and then they flow into the great central factories. The work which is done there consists in a rapid assembly, like a jig-saw puzzle or meccano game, with the result that aeroplanes are turned out with a rapidity which is incomparably greater than in our factories, where a great deal of the finer stages of the work are done on the spot

I must assemble these facts because they are very important. According to yesterday's "Daily Telegraph," in this same account which I thought was so Very well informed, between 250 and 300 military aircraft have been added to Germany's total since November. I fear it will be found that the German factories are working up from their present rate of output of more than 100 a month to some unknown monthly increase. It may be 100, 120, or 140 a month; I do not pretend to be able to say. Nothing I have gathered from the newspapers enables me to say what the ultimate result will be, but it seems to me that if you take the next 12 months at an average output of 125 machines a month—I am sure there are a great many people who will scoff at such a low figure, and I may be only making myself ridiculous by using such a figure and may afterwards be mocked at for doing so—even if you take that moderate figure of 125, it will mean an addition to Germany's military aircraft in the financial year 1935–36 of 1,500, of which a portion will go to replace wastage, and the rest will be a net addition to their total military aircraft strength. That is many times larger than any programme of deliveries provided in this Estimate, which we see is concerned with an increase of 150, plus the natural wear and tear and wastage. Therefore, I am unable to accept the second statement of my right hon. Friend the Lord President in November last, which I have read to the House and will read again: As for the position this time next year, so far from the German military air force being almost as strong as and probably stronger than our own, I estimate that we shall have in Europe alone a margin of nearly 50 per cent.On the contrary, I must submit to the House that the Lord President was misled in the figures which he gave last November, quite unwittingly perhaps, because of the great difficulty of the subject. At any rate, the true position at the end of this year will be almost the reverse of that which he stated to Parliament. We must remember also that Germany's scale of reserves, judging by the lectures which are being delivered at different times by those who have been presiding over German aviation development—the scale of reserves of first-line air strength is 200 per cent. The reason is this: It will take them three months to get their peace-time industry working at full blast on a war-time basis and they calculate on a loss of 100 per cent. of aeroplanes per month, that is damage to 100 per cent. per month in time of war. Thus they would have three months' supply at the end of that three-monthly period. They hope to transfer the whole of the civilian industry into the means of getting their air force into permanent being on a wastage of 100 per cent. a month. They have, of course, made preparations for converting the entire industry of Germany to war purposes by a simple order being given of a detail and refinement which is almost inconceivable. I am not particularly stressing at this moment what comparable measures have been taken, but I am certain that Germany's preparations are infinitely more far-reaching. So that you have not only equality at the moment, but the great output which I have described, and you have behind that this enormous power to turn over, on the outbreak of war, the whole great force of the German industry.

May 2, 1935, House of Commons:

 “When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand, we apply the remedies which then might have effected a cure.  There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the Sibylline books. It falls into that long dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong – these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history." 

November 12, 1936, House of Commons:

“The Government simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.

“Two things, I confess, have staggered me, after a long Parliamentary experience, in these Debates. The first has been the dangers that have so swiftly come upon us in a few years, and have been transforming our position and the whole outlook of the world. Secondly, I have been staggered by the failure of the House of Commons to react effectively against those dangers. That, I am bound to say, I never expected. I never would have believed that we should have been allowed to go on getting into this plight, month by month and year by year, and that even the Government's own confessions of error have produced no concentration of Parliamentary opinion and force capable of lifting our efforts to the level of emergency. I say that unless the House resolves to find out the truth for itself, it will have committed an act of abdication of duty without parallel.”

Sept 30, 1938, challenging Chamberlain after Munich:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonour.  You chose dishonour and you will have war.”  

Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years - Ep.7 - The Long Tide Of Surrender

Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years - Ep.8 - What Price Churchill?