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Déjà vu on the brink of war

By Alan Caruba
web posted March 3, 2003

In 1942, a young foreign correspondent named William L. Shirer had a book published by Alfred A. Knopf called Berlin Diary: 1934-1941. You could substitute new names and places in the various entries and discover that all the confusion, hesitancy, deception, and fear that existed in the years running up to World War II reflect the headlines of today with an eerie sense of déjà vu.

"Berlin, November 28, 1934. Much talk here that Germany is secretly arming, though it is difficult to get definite dope, and if you did get and sent it, you'd probably be expelled."

And people still wonder to what extent Saddam Hussein has secretly rearmed Iraq since his defeat in 1991 followed by endless, meaningless UN resolutions.

"Berlin, February 25, 1935. Diplomatic circles and most of the correspondents are growing optimistic over a general settlement that will ensure peace. Sir John Simon, the British Foreign Minister, is coming to Berlin. A few days ago, Lavel and Flandin (French diplomats) met the British in London. What they offer is to free Germany from the disarmament provision of the peace treaty (though Hitler secretly is rapidly freeing himself) in return for German promises to respect the independence of Austria and all the other little countries."

Compromises with dictators, then or now, are useless and only encourage aggression.

"Berlin, May 2, 1936. The Italians entered Addis Ababa today. The Negus has fled. Mussolini has triumphed---largely with mustard gas. That's how he's beaten the Ethiopians. He's also triumphed over the League (of Nations), by bluff. That's how he kept off oil sanctions, which might have stopped him."

The 24/7 news channels are filled with military experts discussing how Saddam Hussein has used chemical weapons against the Kurds in the past and is likely to use them again if attacked. Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council continues to dither, giving him ever more time to prepare his defenses.

"Berlin, April 9, 1940. Hitler this spring day has occupied a couple more countries. At dawn Nazi forces invaded the two neutral states of Denmark and Norway in order, as the official statement piously puts it, ‘to protect their freedom and independence.'"

Iraq waged war on its neighbor state, Iran, for eight years, no doubt to "protect its freedom and independence." Failing that, it invaded Kuwait on a similar pretence. Permitting such naked aggression to continue is an invitation to an ever-widening conflict and one that has already reached our shores.

On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, beginning WWII. The nation, by that point, was firmly in the grip of men who were little more than gangsters led by a charismatic leader. And they were Socialists, as the name of their party revealed. Despite Hitler's fulminations against Soviet Russia, the government they created for Germany directly reflected the iron grip of the Soviets; a grip comparable to the Baathist Party in Iraq.

The Nazis ignored the League of Nations as a toothless debating society. The United Nations Security Council has revealed itself to be the same.

"Berlin, November 19, 1939. Frank, the Governor-General of occupied Poland, today decreed that the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw henceforth must be shut off from the rest of the capital by barricades and place under sharp police control. He says the Jews are ‘carriers of diseases and germs.' An American friend back from Warsaw tonight tells me the Nazi policy is simply to exterminate the Polish Jews…Several thousand Jews from the Reich have also been sent to eastern Poland to die, he says."

With a hideous repetition of the Nazis, today's terrorists, Osama bin Laden, Yassir Arafat, the Iranian ayatollahs, the other despots and media of the Middle East lay the blame for their actions on the Jews in general and Israel in particular. The wish to exterminate Israel is on the lips and in the prayers of most Muslims. For Islam, Israel and the world's tiny Jewish population is merely an excuse to perpetrate its jihad.

Today, as it was in the 1930s, gangsters rule Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, and, Saudi Arabia, to name just a few nations of the Middle East. They must be restrained and removed from power. It is the only way to avoid years of terrorism and war.

"Aboard the Excambian, December 13, 1940." (Watching the lights of Europe recede from the ship, Shirer and the rest of the world were still five years from seeing an end to WWII. He lamented the hope for peace that had been destroyed when "the war came and the Nazi blight and the hatred and the fraud and the political gangsterism and the murder and the massacre and the incredible intolerance and all the suffering and the starving and cold and the thud of a bomb blowing the people in a house to pieces, the thud of all the bombs blasting man's hope and decency."

The fall of the two towers of the World Trade Center came with a similar "thud" of destruction. It heralded a new phase in a war that had been declared decades before. It led to the US invasion of Afghanistan to rid that nation of al Qaeda and the Taliban and to begin introducing democracy and freedom to its people.

The UN's dictator-neutral approach has put our troops in harm's way again. We stand on the brink of a second war with Iraq. The first war ended at the demand of the United Nations, permitting the evil regime of Saddam Hussein to remain in place.

If one contemplates the number of despots and dictators in power in the world today, little has changed from William Shirer's world of the 1930s and 40s. These men rule nations that are members in good standing in the United Nations. Their diplomats help determine its policies.

There is, however, one major exception. Today, the United States of America is the lone superpower with the capability of bringing about a significant change in the lives of millions of people in the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific Basin, North Korea, and elsewhere throughout the world who yearn for freedom. We have the power. Now, like previous generations, we must demonstrate we have the will.

Alan Caruba is the author of "Warning Signs", a collection of his weekly columns, by Merril Press. His work is posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, 2003

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