With the recent revelation that North Korea has a nuclear weapons program with at least one functioning nuke possibly under its belt, those who have vociferously opposed war in Iraq should have called off their anti-war protest in Washington last weekend. Our high-level negotiations with the North Koreans eight years ago did nothing to stop them from developing weapons of mass destruction, demonstrating once again that negotiating with criminal regimes is futile. But alas, the Chamberlains of our day continue to trod forth with their incomprehensible opposition to regime change in Iraq. History has shown us that appeasement, whether it is ceding to the fascist Hitler or the equally tyrannical Soviet Union, does not lead to peace.
Many criticize President George W. Bush’s actions towards Iraq by arguing that the administration has created a double standard in not taking a similarly hawkish policy on North Korea. The popular anti-war claim that oil explains why we are threatening military action in Iraq and not North Korea is invalid. If oil were our sole objective, would not the United States simply lift sanctions, as the American oil companies have themselves been so strenuously advocating for the past decade? The reason we cannot invade North Korea is because of the very appeasement policies of those who today claim that we should not invade Iraq. Because of appeasement, North Korea has a developed nuclear weapons program, and taking military action against it could precipitate a nuclear exchange with the 10 million inhabitants of Seoul caught in the balance. This is exactly why we have to stop Saddam now, before he has the opportunity to wreak the same havoc.
Thanks to those who espoused appeasement in 1994, it will now be even more difficult to neutralize this North Korean menace — which would have been much easier to do had the United States prevented the rogue state from gaining nuclear weapons in the first place. The man largely responsible for this strategic fiasco is recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter. Following threats by North Korea to process spent fuel into plutonium, the Clinton administration sent Carter as its chief negotiator to diffuse the situation. In trusting North Korea’s leader, Kim Il Sung, Carter chose to accept the worthless promise of a megalomaniac, even describing the agreement as “kind of like a miracle.”
Carter fits in well with the Eurocrats who, unlike our President, take pride in sitting complacently before the face of evil while loudly complaining about American unilateralism. Furthermore, the criteria for Carter’s award had little to do with peace, but rather with petty politics. Upon presenting him with the award, the chairman of the Nobel committee proclaimed, “It should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the [Bush administration] has taken — a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States.” Carter has coddled despots the world over from Fidel Castro to Yasir Arafat and has never found a tyrant he did not like. Due to his miraculous work, the former peanut farmer now finds himself in perfect company with the European appeasers who let Hitler run rampant and wish Saddam that same privilege — and we find ourselves facing a hostile, nuclear-armed regime.
The devastating terrorist attack in Bali Oct. 12, perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists against nearly 200 Western “infidels” also demonstrates why appeasement often causes the needless murder of innocent civilians. The Indonesian government did next to nothing to monitor Muslim extremists operating within its borders, but anti-Western terrorism apologists are at it once again, imploring us to examine the “root cause of terror.” To find it, look no further than the words of Abu Bakar Bashir, the Muslim cleric who has been implicated for the massacre: “My message to the families is please convert to Islam as soon as possible.” This suggestion was accompanied by his constructive tip that, “The indications are Americans and Jews did it.” Upon hearing the root cause of terror, I assume that the anti-war appeasers would be first in line to convert the United States into an Islamic caliphate.
We have to learn from the mistakes of North Korea and Indonesia. Appeasers like to assume that all people think rationally, that anyone, regardless of their political beliefs or religious persuasion, can sit down at the negotiating table and behave in the same civil manner that we do. Unfortunately, not everyone is versed in the ways of liberal Western democracies; not everyone settles their disputes in the parliamentary chamber. Many, like Abu Bakar Bashir or Saddam Hussein, prefer to settle their scores with bombs in “sinful nightclubs” or with poison gas against defenseless Kurdish civilians. The lesson to be gleaned from all this is that we must now prevent Saddam from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. With Saddam’s history of genocidal devastation and aggression towards his neighbors, he cannot be trusted by the world community and must be stopped before he has the opportunity to use a nuclear capacity as blackmail. For if Saddam does indeed attain that capacity, he could launch a catastrophe of devastating proportions.
Appeasement of murderous regimes simply does not work. It is immoral, ineffective and inherently perilous. Trusting men like Hitler, Kim Jong Il and Stalin has merely led to the deaths of millions of innocent people, and the world will be at a greater risk if we continue to trust Saddam Hussein. The naive protesters at last weekend’s peace rally, the foreign policy experts on the New Haven Board of Aldermen, and the Yalies who swamp the campus with anti-war propaganda ignore history. All still fail to comprehend that appeasement has been, and will continue to be, a disastrous failure.
James Kirchick is a freshman in Pierson College.