Adolph Hitler, Iran, Obama And '...the advent of the Democrats will benefit Hamas, Syria and Iran.'
Notwithstanding the idea that Hitler was not unreasonable, there are other more considered (read: intelligent) voices out there.
In Nicholson Baker's disturbing new book, Human Smoke, which questions whether World War II could have been avoided, he quotes approvingly a pacifist speech Albert Einstein gave in New York in 1930: "If only two per cent of the men liable for war service were to refuse," Einstein said, "there would not be enough jails in the world to take care of them."
But after Hitler came to power in Germany, Einstein was asked to speak on behalf of two conscientious objectors awaiting trial in Belgium. He declined, saying "were I a Belgian I should not, in the present circumstances, refuse military service; rather I should enter service cheerfully in the belief that I would hereby be helping to save European civilisation."
Hitler is undoubtedly the ultimate test of a pacifist. His arrival on the scene caused many of those who had pledged themselves to peace in the 1930s to melt away "like an early morning mist on a hot June day". For example, AA Milne wrote the pacifist Peace with Honour in 1934, but six years later he had come full circle, arguing for the use of force: "If anybody reads Peace with Honour now, he must read it with the one word 'Hitler' scrawled across every page." Even Bertrand Russell wrote: "If I were young enough to fight myself I should do so."
In an afterword, Baker dedicates his book to American and British pacifists, noting that "They failed, but they were right". But this is to ignore the nature of evil. It was all very well for Gandhi to write an open letter to the people of England saying: "I want you to fight Nazism without arms." But, at least until the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto, that was what the Jews were doing and it brought them no further than the death camps.
And the idea that pacifism could influence a regime that murdered anyone who dissented is absurd. In Britain there were 62,000 conscientious objectors in WWII, and although 6,500 of them spent some time in prison they all lived to tell the tale. In Germany, conscientious objectors were shot.
In writing about COs in World War I, I could not help but admire their determination to stick to their belief amid an unthinking orgy of patriotism. But they had absolutely no effect on the war. Their lasting achievement was to ensure that in a democracy men would have the right to refuse to fight.
I am very glad to live in a country where men have the right to abide by their conscience; but unhappily pacifism has never worked. Depressingly it remains now, as in Hitler's day, a brave ideal powerless in the face of man's unfathomable capacity for evil.
We wonder if Obama would have wanted to negotiate with Hitler- and if he really believes that he, as opposed to Roosevelt and/or Churchill. Of course, a smarter-than-everyone-else Stalin did negotiate with Hitler and came to an agreement, albeit one that was to cost the Soviets 20-30 million lives.
Why would Obama want to negotiate with Iran's president? Why would a President of the United States of America want to deal with a racist and bigot as an equal? There are those who might say that Ahmadenijad is not a racist or bigot, only an 'anti Zionist.' Of course, David Duke also claims he is not a racist. It is interesting to recall that David Duke and a host of other bigots were all esteemed guests of Ahmadenijad and warmly embraced. Would Obama 'negotiate' with David Duke? The question begs an answer- after all, there isn't a lot that distinguishes Duke from the Iranian leader.
Former president Jimmy Carter's visit and 'negotiations' with Hamas leader Khalid Mashal was not universally applauded. From Memri:
On April 16, 2008, the London Arabic language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published an editorial by the paper's editor, Tariq Alhomayed, criticizing former U.S. president Jimmy Carter's plan to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al in Damascus this week to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The following is the editorial, in the original English, as it appeared on the newspaper's website.
"Carter's Meeting With Mash'al... Can Only Exacerbate the Crisis in the Region"
"Huge controversy surrounds former U.S. president Jimmy Carter's meeting with Hamas supremo Khaled Mash'al. Carter has stated that during his meeting with Hamas's leader in Damascus, he will strive to convince him to accept a peaceful solution with Israel and Fatah.
"It is common knowledge that Saudi Arabia has tried to resolve the Palestinian problem through the Mecca Agreement, but after the utmost faith and the emotional speeches that we saw and heard in Mecca; Hamas, under Khaled Mash'al's leadership, staged a military coup in Gaza and overthrew the Palestinian Authority (PA). Moreover, Hamas has evaded Egyptian and Yemeni attempts [for reconciliation] while Gaza, under Hamas's leadership, has transformed into a pressure front [exerting pressure] on Egypt.
"Carter's meeting with Mash'al cannot be described as anything but an [internal] American skirmish, the outcome of which will be fruitless for the region and the Palestinian cause. In fact, it can only exacerbate the crisis in the region. There is nothing to indicate that Hamas, under Khaled Mash'al's leadership, will commit to a resolution that unites all Palestinian efforts."
"Clearly, Jimmy Carter is Unable to Apprehend that Mash'al Staged a Coup"
"Clearly, Jimmy Carter is unable to apprehend that Khaled Mash'al staged a coup on a democratic regime that came to power through elections - and before that had led a more dangerous 'ideological' coup in which the movement had declared its rejection of the Oslo Accords - all of which means a return to square one in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
"Khaled Mash'al's real problem lies in the fact that he aspires more towards a truce with Israel than he does towards the vision of a Palestinian state. Moreover, he does not strive to put an end to the crisis endured by the people of Gaza inasmuch as he attempts to exert pressure on Egypt with the intention of serving goals that are far removed from the Palestinian cause.
"Mr. Khaled Mash'al leads a safe life in Damascus and is more preoccupied with preserving Hamas's alliance with Iran and Syria than with unifying the Palestinian ranks. His position is the same as that of the rest of the Hamas leadership, which has disappeared fearing that Israel will target it, leaving the residents of Gaza to confront the Israeli aggression. Where is Ismail Haniyeh today?"
"Carter's Meeting with Mash'al Could Harm the Palestinian Cause"
"Carter's meeting with Khaled Mash'al could harm the Palestinian cause and inter-Palestinian reconciliation more than benefitting it. One should recall House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's meeting with Bashar Assad in Damascus following the Democratic victory in U.S. Congress.
"Following that meeting, the entire region was suddenly deflated after Damascus received the wrong message and acted based upon it, along with Iran, in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. New disasters broke out in the entire region after the Syrian-Iranian alliance and their followers, Hezbollah and Hamas, assumed that President Bush had become a lame duck and that they were capable of implementing their agendas.
"Today, the same thing applies to Mash'al's meeting with Carter; it will end with an American skirmish that Mash'al will exploit in the media and which will send the wrong signal to Hamas and others - in hope that the advent of the Democrats will benefit Hamas, Syria and Iran.
"This signifies the persistence of the internal Palestinian split and gives hope to the states that seek to disrupt the region. It will also grant Israel the opportunity to put pressure on whoever will reach the White House, whether it is the Democrats or Republicans, to take a more severe stance towards the Palestinian cause and thus complicate matters further."