Peace in Our Time

November 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

MunichAgreement

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
Thomas Jefferson

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”
Winston Churchill

“It is civilization and pluralism and securalism that need pitiless and unapologetic fighters.”
Christopher Hitchens

Many of Chamberlain’s supporters heaved a sigh of relief when the Munich Agreement was signed. But to countless others it seemed yet another instance of kow-towing. Seventy seven years on, a similar evil threatens to crush the very fabric of our lives; reduce us to chattel and wrench the rights and freedoms from us for which we have struggled so much. Seventy seven years on, and we find ourselves divided along equally similar lines as those before us: the masochists and the vehemently opposed; the appeasers and those willing to fight fire with fire.

Why is it that we are so willing to flagellate and prostrate ourselves? Why is it that we constantly blame ourselves for the cowardly and barbaric attacks aimed at maiming our civilization and hurling it back to the Stone Age? Masochism. A belief that if we point the finger at ourselves and absolve our enemies of their crimes then they will somehow be pacified. This is a delusion, a rampant delusion. There can be no middle ground struck with with these people. It is neither feasible nor desirable.

‘…I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak – nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.’

President Obama’s speech in Oslo beautifully illustrated the starkness of reality. Unlike our enemies we do not resort to violence because we relish it, but because we are mindful of history and acknowledge the diabolical threat to our existence. Our answer to such cruelty must be swift and decisive and unrelenting. Let us not forget that the rights and freedoms we enjoy today were acquired through untold suffering and bloodshed. To cower before such thugs is to concede defeat and to ignore our past. It is not they, but we who hold the moral high ground.


Image: “Munich Agreement” by By Ministry of Information official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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