Taking the liberty to reproduce a piece by R. James Woolsey – in its entirety – from NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE www.nationalreview.com
R. James Woolsey June 3, 2010 4:00 A.M.
The focus of Woolsey’s article is Iran, with some concern mentioned for the Saudi’s as well (the conflict between Shite and Sunni fundamentalists) and not so much Islam in general. The build-up of a military and a potential arsenal of nuclear weapons calls for a stronger response than has been evident of late. He compares what the world is observing (or not truly seeing or accepting) in Iran as a parallel historically to Nazi Germany.
Parallels Between Present-Day Iran and Nazi Germany
“History doesn’t repeat itself,” said Mark Twain, “but it does rhyme.”
In 1933, a totalitarian regime came to power in Germany with the consent of at least a substantial minority of the German people. Its Nazi ideology was rooted in fanatic racism and resentment over recent history. Hitler and those around him preached that it was the destiny of the German race to dominate Europe and exterminate the Jews. One of the Nazis’ most bitter enemies from the beginning was a rival regime — the Soviet Union — whose ideology was rooted in class rather than race but was equally totalitarian.
Shortly after they came to power, the Nazis began a major arms buildup, in violation of their international treaty obligations. They enhanced their control of the instruments of power in German society by creating two new organizations, the SA and the SS, which took over many of the roles of the police and the military, dominating the streets and infiltrating the armed forces. They sought to subvert neighboring countries by using their intelligence service to encourage support for their regime among, for example, the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia.
German society was by no means monolithic in its support of the Nazis, particularly at first. Certain groups of clerics and segments of the Prussian officer corps were opposed to Nazi rule; it was from these latter circles that the nearly successful plot to assassinate Hitler came in the early 1940s. Intellectuals, student groups such as the White Rose, and much of organized labor also opposed the Nazis for some time.
But three important factors led the Nazi leadership to believe by 1938–39 that it was free to begin the Holocaust and its conquest of Europe.
First, their arms buildup had been successful. Not effectively constrained by either the arms-control agreements or the other international pledges of the era, such as the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, which outlawed war, the German buildup had been relentless and effective, as the country’s Panzer divisions and dive bombers quickly showed. Further, in no small part because of their rearmament, Germany’s leaders were able to convince the Soviets in 1939 that it was in the latter’s interest to join them in the Hitler-Stalin Pact, an alliance that astounded the world. And although it was less than two years before the Nazis invaded their totalitarian rival and temporary ally, the pact enabled Germany to conquer most of Europe.
A number of historians now say that it might have been possible at an earlier point, before most of their military buildup had occurred — say, in 1935, when Germany occupied the Rhineland in violation of the Versailles Treaty — for solid opposition by Britain and France to cause the German armed forces to turn against the Nazis and overthrow the regime.
But British and French opposition came only after the shooting started. The dire economic conditions of the 1930s, among other factors, had sapped the Allies’ will and had helped keep the U.S. on its side of the Atlantic, with no prospect of a repeat of its 1917 surge, which rescued Europe. The U.S. stayed at home and licked its economic wounds until it was attacked by Germany’s ally Japan, nearly two and a half years after the European war began.
Perhaps the most powerful constraint on effective opposition to the Nazis in the years before World War II, however, whether in the streets of Germany or the chancelleries of Europe, was the widely held belief that the Nazi leaders could not be serious in their extreme statements, that it was all just braggadocio, a clumsy effort to exert influence. The Germans aren’t crazy, the argument ran. Germany, after all, had been the home of a remarkable culture over the centuries — it was the land of Kant, of Goethe, of Bach. Important parts of Germany, especially Prussia, had been havens for Jews and Huguenots when they were being persecuted elsewhere in Europe in earlier centuries. Much of the German Jewish community felt reasonably safe in what many took to be Europe’s most civilized state.
And in Britain and France particularly, political leaders felt that their parties and voters would not support a tough line against Germany that risked confrontation, even war — a feeling that only grew as the German military buildup proceeded. “Appeasement” did not at the time have a connotation of pusillanimity — it was thought to describe a reasonable diplomatic tactic. Neville Chamberlain was widely supported in 1938 in his view that he had succeeded in establishing “peace for our time” by acceding at Munich to Hitler’s demands over Czechoslovakia. It is now clear that only a very different type of leader, one able to reject appeasement and change the public’s mind, could possibly have stopped Hitler and prevented World War II. It is with good reason that the volume that covers the years 1932–40 in William Manchester’s classic biography of Churchill has a one-word title: “Alone.”
The totalitarian regime that rules Iran today came to power in 1979 with substantial support among the Iranian people. Its ideology is rooted in an extreme millenarian cult of Shiite Islam and resentment of recent history. Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and their close colleagues emphasize two twin goals: dominating the Middle East to help bring about the return of the Hidden Imam and the end of the world; and, preparatory thereto, “wiping Israel from the face of the earth.” Another of the radical Shiite regime’s bitterest hatreds, rooted in a rivalry that has lasted some 14 centuries, is of Sunni Muslims and particularly of the Saudi state, home of the most extreme form of Sunni Islam, the theocratic and totalitarian Wahhabi sect.
Some years ago, Iran began a military buildup, the centerpiece of which is the production of the enriched uranium necessary for a nuclear weapon, in violation of its treaty obligations. It has also formed the Revolutionary Guards, which in turn has established groups such as the Basiji to dominate the streets and other groups to take over much of the role of the armed forces — for example, by controlling the regime’s nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile programs. With the al-Quds force and other entities, Iran seeks to subvert and dominate neighboring countries such as Syria and Lebanon, and they utilize Hezbollah and Hamas to spread their control in the region.
Iranian society is by no means monolithic in its support for the regime. There have always been major clerical figures opposed to its underlying premises, and clerical opposition seems to be growing. Traditional elements of the military have shown sufficiently weak support for the regime that important parts of their military missions have been given to the Revolutionary Guards. Intellectuals, students, labor groups, and a wide swath of the Iranian people showed their opposition in the summer of 2009 when the presidential election was stolen by Ahmadinejad, and they have suffered terribly for it.
Three major factors may convince the Iranian regime within the relatively near future that it is time to move decisively to dominate the Middle East. The approach is likely to involve an effort to damage seriously (at the very least) the state of Israel.
First, Iran’s nuclear-weapons program moves ahead relentlessly, constrained neither by its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations nor by any of America’s gestures of good will and willingness to negotiate. An Iranian nuclear weapon — or even a widely held perception that they could construct one quickly, possessing the fissile material — would certainly intimidate Iran’s Sunni neighbors. The world will probably not see a Tehran-Riyadh version of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, but it might well see major movements by Sunni nations, including Saudi Arabia, to accommodate and pander to a nuclear Iran (while at the same time moving quickly to initiate their own “peaceful” nuclear programs and enrich uranium).
Second, the Great Recession in which the world is mired is not a repeat of the 1930s yet, but high unemployment levels and huge deficits certainly discourage many in the U.S. and allied states from risking any further potential military undertakings.
Perhaps the most powerful constraint on taking decisive action is the belief widely held in the West that Ahmadinejad cannot be serious, that his and other Iranian leaders’ statements are just braggadocio, a clumsy effort to exert influence. The Iranians aren’t crazy, the argument runs. After all, Persia was home to a long and noble cultural history: It was the land of Cyrus the Great, of Avicenna, of Rumi and Omar Khayyam. For major periods of time over thousands of years, its relations with the Jewish people, including its own Jewish minority with ancient roots in Persia, were positive and civilized. So surely, it is said, Iranian leaders would not take a wholly irrational step — motivated by religious fanaticism or otherwise — such as attacking Israel.
But now, as was the case in the mid-1930s, we may have very little time left. There still may be a chance for the U.S. and at least a few of its allies to do something effective: to impose on Iran crippling economic sanctions orders of magnitude more severe than the modest ones used to date, to provide substantial and effective aid to the Iranian reformers, or otherwise to help bring about a tectonic shift in the nature of the Iranian regime. We may still have an opportunity to keep “engagement” from becoming the “appeasement” of our time, a synonym for “weakness leading to war.” The key determinant is whether our leaders decide to use Chamberlain or Churchill as their model of statesmanship.
Much will hinge on their choice.
— R. James Woolsey is the chairman of Woolsey Partners and a former director of Central Intelligence.
I replicated this peace as just another ‘warning’ in what is taking place in the Musim world and can continue to occur if Islam is not dealt with as the Ideology that it is. Islam wants to grow and contiue until “all is for Allah.”
We pray for peace, yet are faced with an example of the extreme to which Islam can go in its ideology and control, coersion, of a entire Nation. More need to Understand Islam so that we can deal frankly with this intrusion on the freedom of all the people on this planet.
Coming soon, a discussion on the NYC Mega-Mosque (Cordoba House), and Teaching and Training, comparing that for Christians and Muslims.
Grace and Peace.