Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Those who say we have brought the threat upon ourselves, and that renouncing the war against Saddam Hussein and abandoning the US alliance would take us off the target list, ignore the lessons of history, and defy commonsense. Such arguments are directly descended from those of the European appeasers in the 1930s, who were willing to give Nazi Germany whatever it wanted as the price of peace. But bullies feed off fear, and for the three years before World War II every concession by France and Britain only generated another demand for more territory or changes to treaty terms. The appeasers were doomed to fail in the face of their foes' contempt for their very reasonableness. As Winston Churchill put it in 1940, "an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last". We face a similar situation today. Hitler dreamed of European dominion and of slaughtering millions of ordinary people – Jews, Gypsies and Slavs – on the basis of a grotesquery of ignorance and hate. For Australia to seek peace in our time by pandering to the similar objectives of Osama bin laden and his confederates would be treason to our foundation ideals of democracy and equality.