Thomas Sowell

The beginning of the First World War has been attributed to the assassination of the Hapsburg archduke in Serbia. But we now know that it was the German Kaiser who pushed the Hapsburg Empire into declaring war, knowing that existing alliances would bring in Russia and give Germany an excuse to launch its attack as an ally of the Hapsburg Empire and gain "a place in the sun" as a great military power.

We know how that ended -- not only in defeat for Germany but in devastation for the German economy and the German people, leaving a legacy of bitter disillusionment that set the stage for the rise of Hitler. And we know how that ended.

What an irony that these two countries, with a track record of monumental foreign policy disasters, would be the ones to preen themselves on their superior wisdom in international affairs while impeding the American response to the terrorists' war. And what a pathetic thing that there are some Americans willing to accept French and German presumptions and condescension.

You can always buy time with appeasement -- and end up paying a staggeringly higher price than if you had shown a little backbone earlier. That was the tragic lesson of the 1930s, spelled out in painful detail in "The Gathering Storm" by Winston Churchill.

With North Korea threatening to become a supplier of nuclear weapons to international terrorist networks, we have a storm gathering that could dwarf even the unspeakable horrors of World War II. National unity at a time like this is absolutely crucial -- and yet it is being blithely thrown away by petty politicians panting to regain political power at all costs, and even boasting of foreign support.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate