President Bush’s Deadly Iranian Concession

by | Mar 21, 2005

In return for Iran’s agreement to temporarily cease the work needed to produce a nuclear bomb, President Bush has agreed to allow Iran to buy civilian airplane parts, and to drop opposition to Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization. These concessions are exactly the same as the British government’s concessions to Hitler in 1935. […]

In return for Iran’s agreement to temporarily cease the work needed to produce a nuclear bomb, President Bush has agreed to allow Iran to buy civilian airplane parts, and to drop opposition to Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization. These concessions are exactly the same as the British government’s concessions to Hitler in 1935. They will have the same results: the strengthening of an enemy dictatorship that is building a war machine.

In October of 1933 Hitler walked out of the World Disarmament Conference, and renounced the League of Nations. He said that he would return when the principle was accepted that he had an equal right to national self-determination, including armed forces. The British could not resist this claim. In February 1934 Foreign Minister Sir John Simon told the House of Commons that “Germany‘s equality of rights could not be resisted.” Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain would state more than once that “the principle of self-determination” was what his policy was designed to achieve, and that Germany‘s claim to this was unimpeachable.

Conceding the principle involved, the British granted Hitler’s claim to this right. They sent out negotiators to quibble over the amount. The result was an agreement to allow the Germans a navy that was 35% the size of the British fleet.

Well, what’s the problem? Such a navy could not beat Britain. The agreement did not require the British to give up anything; it actually gave them time to build more weapons. It was not like surrendering to a burglar totally; it was allowing a burglar to have a pistol while you have a shotgun. Perhaps Hitler could be enticed to return to the League as he promised. Perhaps the Fuehrer just wanted a few allusive carrots, to feed his metaphorical horses.

This was, of course, a surrender of everything. By accepting the 35% figure–which was proposed by Hitler–the British granted him the status of a legitimate leader. They accepted that he had a “right” to weapons on principle. They empowered Hitler’s aggressive generals and diminished the “moderates.” They told him that he could get away with murder. A few months later, he marched into the Rhineland unopposed; the British appealed to the League of Nations. Germany erupted in celebrations, and Hitler won a resounding democratic plebiscite that strengthened his rule and eliminated opposition.

In concrete terms, the British concessions allowed him to re-tool his factories–a job that took years–so that he could start pumping out the weapons once he decided that he no longer had to ask. In allowing him to build even one ship, they granted him the factories and machine tools needed to build a thousand ships.

Every point of this applies directly to Iran. It is irrelevant that the Iranians are not asking for an actual bomb; they are claiming, as a right, everything needed to produce one. Paralyzed by the need for consensus, Mr. Bush is doing exactly what the British did in 1935 (and that Mr. Kerry promised in the campaign): to appeal to the “international community”, to use diplomacy rather than military action, to offer “incentives” to Iran, and to value an international consensus over a forthright, independent defense of America.

By granting the Iranians time to negotiate, Mr. Bush is allowing them to build more underground facilities, and to take giant steps towards producing the bombs. He is empowering the hard-liners inside Iran, and allowing the regime to build nationalistic support while suppressing dissent internally.

Most of all, Mr. Bush has conceded America‘s sovereign right to prevent our sworn enemies from gaining the kind of weapons needed to vaporize American cities.

Perhaps Mr. Bush will do more before it is too late. Perhaps he will tacitly help Israel end the threat. But we have no evidence to support this–there has been no military build-up and UN begging, akin to the year before the Iraq invasion–so we will just have to take him on faith.

John David Lewis (website) is a Visiting Professor of Political Science, Duke University. He has been a Senior Research Scholar in History and Classics at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, and an Anthem Fellow.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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