"A little learning is a dangerous thing," wrote Alexander Pope.
Daily, our 43rd president testifies to Pope's point.
Addressing the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's birth, Bush said those who say we should negotiate with Iran or Hamas are like the fools who said we should negotiate with Adolf Hitler.
"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.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement. ..."
Again, Bush has made a hash of history.
Appeasement is the name given to what Neville Chamberlain did at Munich in September 1938. Rather than fight Germany in another great war -- to keep 3.5 million Germans under a Czech rule they despised -- he agreed to their peaceful transfer to German rule. With these Germans went the lands their ancestors had lived upon for centuries, German Bohemia, or the Sudetenland.
Chamberlain's negotiated deal with Hitler averted a European war -- at the expense of the Czech nation. That was appeasement.
German tanks, however, did not roll into Poland until a year later, Sept. 1, 1939. Why did the tanks roll? Because Poland refused to negotiate over Danzig, a Baltic port of 350,000 that was 95 percent German and had been taken from Germany at the Paris peace conference of 1919, in violation of Wilson's 14 Points and his principle of self-determination.
Hitler had not wanted war with Poland. He had wanted an alliance with Poland in his anti-Comintern pact against Joseph Stalin.
But the Poles refused to negotiate. Why? Because they were a proud, defiant, heroic people and because Neville Chamberlain had insanely given an unsolicited war guarantee to Poland. If Hitler invaded, Chamberlain told the Poles, Britain would declare war on Germany.
From March to August 1939, Hitler tried to negotiate Danzig. But the Poles, confident in their British war guarantee, refused. So, Hitler cut his deal with Stalin, and the two invaded and divided Poland.
The cost of the war that came of a refusal to negotiate Danzig was millions of Polish dead, the Katyn massacre, Treblinka, Sobibor, Auschwitz, the annihilation of the Home Army in the Warsaw uprising of 1944, and 50 years of Nazi and Stalinist occupation, barbarism and terror.
In that same speech to the Knesset, Bush dismissed the idea we could ever successfully negotiate with Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran:
"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them that they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before."