The Western response to the threat of Iran gaining nuclear weapons is tracking dangerously toward appeasement and failure. It is not yet inevitable -- President Bush has insisted in two State of the Union addresses and currently that he will not permit it to happen. But most government officials in Europe and here, and of course the dominant media, are already deeply into resignation, rationalization and denial. Indeed, in the last couple of years, the absolute exclusion of a military option has become the only "respectable" posture amongst both European and American officials and senior media personages.
This rationalizing mentality was epitomized by the statement of Gen. Barry McCaffrey on "Meet the Press" last Sunday. The general is a usually levelheaded and deeply experienced senior statesman. He has criticized Bush's policies where he disagrees with them, but he is not anti-Bush. His statement is worth reading carefully.
"Mr. Russert: 'So it's inevitable they get the nuclear bomb, in your opinion?'
"Gen McCaffrey: 'I think so. I think they're going nuclear five, 10 years from now. We'll be confronted. And that's not a good outcome. That argues that perhaps Saudi money and Egyptian technology gets an Arab Sunni bomb to confront the Persian Shia bomb. None of us want to see proliferation in the Gulf. This is a time for serious diplomatic interventions.'"
The last sentence calling for diplomacy is such a feeble, mantra-like invocation of a hopeless solution when preceded by his confident statements that he thinks they want the bomb and will get it. Virtually no one believes Iran only wants peaceful nuclear generation. Neither do serious people believe that enactable economic and diplomatic sanctions will deflect the Iranians from their objective.
Thus, the offer on the table -- to give them peaceful nuclear technology or threaten them with non-military sanction -- suffers from providing a "carrot that is not tempting and a stick that is not threatening." (Ian Kershaw's "Making Friends with Hitler.")
This evolving mental path to appeasement mirrors in uncanny detail a similar path taken by the British government to Hitler in the 1930s.
Contrary to popular history, the British government was under little illusion concerning Hitler's nature and objectives in the early 1930s. Those illusions only emerged as mental rationalizations later in the 1930s.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.