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The World’s Most Pernicious Analogy Strikes Again


Crank senators:

Senator Angry Grampy and Senator Huckleberry, the presiding geopolitical thinkers in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, over today to discuss Syria, and to give them the opportunity to stand on the White House lawn afterwards and call him a dithering dilettante whom they will support if he stops his dithering and his dilettanting and give them the Great Big Boom Boom in Syria that they want. You could tell it was serious because Angry Grampy said that, if Syria didn’t matter now, then “Czechoslovakia” didn’t matter in the 1930s, nor did “Abyssynia,” also in the 1930s, and he was not immediately set upon by hordes of angry historians.

Hack pundits:

World War II began 74 years ago Sunday when German troops invaded Poland. The invasion conclusively discredited the concept of “appeasement” as a foreign policy for, well, the next 74 years. But if the U.S. Congress opposes authorization of the military mission to Syria that President Obama has now handed off to it, and if Obama uses that as an excuse to back further away from enforcement of his “red line,” the “A” word will likely come to dominate the international debate once again.

And Barack Obama, who in his first term was known as the vanquisher of Osama bin Laden, could come out of his second looking more like Neville Chamberlain.

And worst of all, the Secretary of State:

Secretary of State John Kerry told House Democrats that the United States faced a “Munich moment” in deciding whether to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.

In a 70-minute conference call on Monday afternoon, Kerry derided Syrian President Bashar Assad as a “two-bit dictator” who will “continue to act with impunity,” and he urged lawmakers to back President Barack Obama’s plan for “limited, narrow” strikes against the Assad regime, Democratic sources on the call said.

Here’s the thing: for this to be a “Munich moment,” Assad would have to, you know, have both the desire and capacity to conquer most of the region. Since in fact it’s far from obvious that Assad will even be able to maintain power in his own country — let alone have the ability to overrun the Middle East — Assad isn’t a new Hitler and whatever he does Obama won’t be Chamberlain. And in this particular case the analogy goes beyond stupidity to being self-refuting — if Assad poses a threat comparable to Hitler in 1938, why only “limited” “surgical” airstrikes? Really, let’s leave these dumb analogies to fourth-tier winger bloggers, please.

I conclude by noting that I happen to have Winston Churchill right here and he thinks it’s dumb to think of Munich as the guide to all future foreign policy questions involving dictators.

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