Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Feeding the Hand that Bites You, Part I

Photo from: RoxieAmerica ,and Kommersant

(...) I cannot think of a single example where appeasement – giving in to an aggressive adversary in the hope that it will convince them to become peaceful themselves – has provided any lasting peace or security. I can say in complete honesty that I look forward to hearing of any historical example that shows it does....

So, contrary to doomsayers throughout history, the destruction of the Barbary Pirates did not result in the recruitment of more Pirates. The destruction of the Barbary Pirates resulted in the destruction of the Barbary Pirates.

After World War II, the allies captured the records of the German High Command. I was stunned to discover that the Wehrmacht’s generals were so appalled at Hitler’s decision to test the resolve of the Western Powers (by marching into the demilitarized Rhineland) that they were prepared to remove or even assassinate him should there have been any resistance to the move. They were terrified of finding themselves in another war. Hitler, on the other hand, couched the violation in the same reasonable-sounding terms that Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi would have undoubtedly approved of, and in he went.

Thus began the most horrible and tragic appeasement in the history of the world.

According to the Germans' own records, a platoon of French soldiers, stationed on that bridge and unwilling to retreat (there’s your problem right there) would have caused the overthrow of Adolph Hitler, and the abandonment of his expansionist policies. Why? Because it wouldn’t have paid, that’s why. As it happened, intimidating the West paid handsomely: The Sudetenland, Austria, Czechoslovakia…It was only when the West finally realized the fruits of appeasement that Hitler was stopped. If it had happened much sooner it would have been much easier. If it had happened at the beginning it would have been painless.

Even though I did not live through it, I don’t forget lessons like this. Not something this clear. Likewise, I do not forget things that I did live through: that bullies who take your lunch money will beat you up more if you give them money and less if you fight back. There’s a logic behind this – predators have to survive every encounter with their prey, so why take chances on anything other than the sick and the weak – and there is an emotional component, too: and that is respect.

Thugs and bullies cannot produce anything of value. They have to take it from those who can. Giving it to them in the hope they will go away does not engender love or respect in them – just the opposite. It creates more contempt and confidence. If it didn’t – if they behaved like sensible people – they wouldn’t be thugs and bullies in the first place.

This projection of rationality onto irrational people is the linchpin of the liberal failure to understand human nature. To those who tend to believe every claim on innocence from career criminals, I recommend COPS therapy. Watch any single episode of COPS and you will see people earnestly swear -- I swear to God, sir! – that they do not possess the drugs they are holding in their hands. What’s that crack rock on your car seat? That’s not my crack rock, sir! It’s in your car. This isn’t my car! I swear to God sir! There are five crack rocks in your pocket. These aren’t my pants, sir! A friend gave me these pants just before I left the house! I swear to God, sir!

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