At a 2006 conference in Washington, D.C., then-Senator Chuck Hagel laid out an appeasement policy that he claimed was the only sane option for the United States.
The conference, hosted by the New America Foundation, was devoted primarily to Iran sanctions, which were coming before the U.S. Senate again the very next day for renewal.
Sen. Hagel’s entire presentation was devoted to blasting the notion of sanctions and economic pressure as tools of diplomacy.
“Great powers are secure enough to engage,” he said. “We need to engage Iran and Syria, and find those common denominators.”
Sen. Hagel claimed that U.S. sanctions on Cuba were not isolating Cuba, but isolating the United States, and that the same was happening with Iran.
Then he made a historical analogy to the world wars that devastated Europe in the last century, and brought on Hitler’s genocide committed against the Jewish people.
But in Sen. Hagel’s worldview, the problem was not Hitler. The problem was the United States and bullying world powers.
“When you isolate nations, only danger and disaster comes from this,” Sen. Hagel said. “We should have learned that in the first 50 years of the last century.”
I was a participant in that conference, and presented a very different view. But before even talking about sanctions or Iran, I felt it was imperative to counter Sen. Hagel’s monstrous misreading of history.
“No, Senator,” I said. “The lesson of the first 50 years of the 20th century was very different from what you claim. If the rise of Adolf Hitler taught us anything, it was this: when tyranny is on the march, free peoples need to stand up and stop it.”
History may not repeat itself, but it certainly does rhyme. We know these lessons from the Hitler era very well. Chuck Hagel obviously does not.
Does the United States need an appeaser-in-chief at the Pentagon?
Kenneth R. Timmerman is the founder and president of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran and the author of “Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson.”