Neoconservatives, Reaganites and other militarily assertive factions in the United States are sometimes accused of thinking it is always 1938 (Britain's appeasement of Hitler at Munich) -- that there is always a Hitler-like aggressor being appeased and about to drag the world into conflict. There is sometimes merit in that charge.
As, likewise, there is sometimes merit in the charge against isolationists and other doves that they always see 1914 (start of WWI) or 1964 (beginning of escalation of troops in Vietnam) -- the imminent and foolish entry into or escalation of a war that can't be won -- or even if victory were to be gained, it would be Pyrrhic.
[T]hose for whom it is now 1938 make a number of assumptions: 1) The Iranian regime intends to develop nuclear weapons; 2) once it has them, being fanatics, they may actually use them against Israel, as they have repeatedly threatened; 3) even if they don't use them, it will change the dynamics of the Middle East by inducing a nuclear arms race between Sunni Muslim countries and Iran, and by giving Iran a huge capacity to intimidate and dominate the region; 4) both Europe and the United States will eventually fall within the missile shadow of a nuclear Iran -- thus giving Iran capacity to be a world player and possible precipitator of nuclear war even beyond the Middle East; 5) the regime is inherently hostile and aggressive, particularly against the U.S. and Israel, and will keep pushing until pushed back; and 6) even tough sanctions will not deter Iran -- moreover, Russia is too invested in Iran to truly cooperate with us, and even Europe will not enforce tough sanctions.
The 1938'ers further believe -- or claim to believe -- that while Iran can create havoc in response to our military action (threaten oil transport out of the Gulf, terrorist attacks in the Middle East, Europe and probably the United States, further harm to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan), they would be even more dangerous -- and just as ill intentioned -- if nuclear armed.On the other hand, there are those, many Obama people among them, who see the world through the lens of 1964. They hold vastly different assumptions. They argue that:
1) Iran may actually not want nuclear weapons. 2) If they do want them, Russia will help us stop them. 3) If we settle the Israeli/Palestinian dispute that will reduce any nuclear aspirations Iran may have. 4) If we were to attack Iran, Iran could create more chaos than we can manage. 5) But if Iran did develop their nuclear weapons, we can deter their use by providing a nuclear umbrella for both Arab and Israeli. And, factually, they assume the danger is off by at least a year -- and that Iran is running into technical problems.Blankley thinks this view is much too pollyannish. I think he's right. The advantage possessed by those who see the world through the lens of 1938 is that it is based on historical experience and not wishful thinking. There have always been and are today lunatic, power-mad dictators out there ready to destroy the world in order to gain it. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmedinejad certainly has all the field marks to identify him as one of these.
President Obama has been trying without much success to appease the Iranian leader while not giving the appearance of appeasing him. The problem is that, just as Neville Chamberlain learned to his everlasting shame with Hitler, what Ahmedinejad wants the United States can't give him, and what we can give him he doesn't want, at least not as much as he wants to destroy Israel.