Revolution #130, May 25, 2008
Food for Thought on “Appeasement”
This week President George W. Bush, speaking from the Israeli parliament, accused the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama of “appeasement.” He implied that because Obama has at times called for negotiation with Iran, that Obama would therefore not wage war in the Middle East with the same viciousness and aggression that Bush has. Given where he was speaking—in the parliament of Israel, the extremely aggressive tool of the U.S. in the Middle East; and when—at a time of both the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel and of increasing U.S. war threats against Iran; these were very heavy words. “Appeasement” refers to a policy pursued by Britain, France and the U.S. before World War 2. They made concessions to Hitler’s Germany as part of a strategy of encouraging the Nazi regime to attack the socialist Soviet Union. When this policy outlived its usefulness, the western imperialists then blamed it for allowing Hitler to get going. For Bush to invoke this charge of “appeasement” is, by implication, to threaten war.
But Obama then came right back to say that the Bush policy had led to Iran making strategic gains in the region, and that because of Bush it now “poses the greatest threat to America and Israel and the Middle East in a generation.” This comes on top of Obama going to the Israeli embassy to restate his support for Israel, and his earlier argument with Hillary Clinton where he said that “Iranians can be confident that I will respond forcefully…if they attacked Israel.” And he generally argued that mixing in negotiations with threats of war would be more effective in countering this “greatest threat…in a generation.”
In effect, Obama is attacked for appeasement and his reply is: “Appeasement? No way. I can be just as effective a commander-in-chief, just as hard-line in defending Israel (and using its military might to further advance American interests), just as war-like in threatening, or even attacking Iran, and much more effective in waging ‘the war on terror.’”
If you, reading this, are someone who both reads our paper but also supports Obama, think about it:
- You know that the U.S. has, through its exploitation and domination of the Middle East, incurred the hatred of the people there;
- You have some sense that Israel acts as the enforcer for U.S. interests in the region, and that the hands of both Israel and the U.S. are soaked in blood, from Afghanistan to Palestine, from Lebanon to Iraq to Iran;
- You know that this oppression and aggression (along with, in some cases, direct U.S. and Israeli support) has in large part generated the rise of reactionary Islamic fundamentalism;
- You figure that the “war on terror” is a cover for a war to continue that aggression and to defend empire, and the whole rotten setup in that part of the world;
- You yourself are keenly aware of the unjust and totally unnecessary suffering brought on by the U.S. war against Iraq, and you fear more of the same against Iran…
Yet you are also supporting someone who does not even claim to be against that whole package of imperialist interests and the strategic aims that flow from it, but who instead argues that he could more effectively carry out those interests and aims.
Where is this leading you? Will you then support Obama when he actually acts on these interests—including acting on his remarks that “all options are on the table”? Will you then find yourself silent when he commits the same crimes that you rightly find to be outrageous when done by a Bush, or threatened by a McCain? And if you do try to speak up, what will you say when his defenders argue back that “after all, this is what he said he would do…and, after all, you knew this then and you still supported him”?
Supporting Obama is not harmless. It is insidious and poisonous. And it drives home once again the point made by Bob Avakian:
“If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.”
If you don’t want to defend imperialism…if you don’t want to be complicit in war crimes…if you don’t want to help usher in an even worse war…
Then don’t throw your support, your resources and your hopes to someone who does not share those essential core beliefs but in fact subscribes to and acts on assumptions that you find—for now—to be abhorrent.
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