Â Â Â Â “My good friends this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace in our time.”
– Neville Chamberlain, 30 September 1938, after ceding the Sudetenland to Germany via the Munich Agreement.
Â Â Â Â In 1938, Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain and arguably then leader of the free world, returned from negotiations with Nazi Germany that resulted in the ceding of the Sudetenland, then part of Czechoslovakia, to Germany in return for some assurances that Germany would not engage in a wider war of â€˜German Unificationâ€™. This settlement, known as the Munich Agreement, resulted in Chamberlainâ€™s famous quote that peace had been secured. A year later, Europe and the world would be embroiled in World War Two.
Â Â Â Â In hindsight, it is easy to criticize Chamberlainâ€™s agreement as idealistic and naÃ¯ve. Some argue that he should have been able to divine Hitlerâ€™s designs from his statements and behavior and should have refused to support such a compromise based on Britainâ€™s long-standing alliances and agreements. The truth, however, is that Chamberlain negotiated in good faith and honestly believed that he had achieved the objective he sought.
Â Â Â Â The same evaluation is true for the European Union negotiators currently dealing with Iran. There is no doubt that many, if not most, of them sincerely believe that Iran ultimately just wants to talk about peaceful nuclear development and is being belligerent about uranium enrichment because the nation thinks it is being provoked. The EU believes that, if it can just get Iran to the table, an agreement can be reached and the consequences of no agreement can be avoided.
Â Â Â Â In fact, an agreement will likely be reached at some point, arguably before the US presidential election in 2008. In this agreement, Iran will promise to reduce- not suspend- uranium enrichment and other weapon producing potential activities in return for assurances that Europe will not break its long-standing and lucrative trade agreements with Iran by acceding to US demands for sanctions as a result of current international agreement defying activities. The EU will declare victory and crisis averted and will claim this new agreement removes the need for the current US policy of preemption.
Â Â Â Â Such an historic agreement cannot help but have an effect on the US election and could potentially result in a radical change to the prosecution of the War on Terror. With Iran restrained by international agreement, what is the need for a wartime president, many will likely argue. There will be great calls for a return to a more domestically focused policy in the US along with a concerted withdrawal from Iraq and a return to the snipe hunt for bin Laden.
Â Â Â Â Of course, as the world has already learned from its previous negotiations with dictatorships from Nazi Germany to North Korea, such agreements rarely stand up to the test of time. In fact, history teaches that tyrants cannot be negotiated with and that such negotiations only result in deeper and more far reaching conflicts that are merely put off until when they are least likely to be dealt with well.
Â Â Â Â And, of course, this is exactly the strategy that Iran is using to buy it time to complete its domestic nuclear weapons program. Iran has every intention of producing nuclear weapons to further its objective of global jihad resulting in the world domination of fundamentalist Islam and the return of the Caliphate. The leaders of Iran, both its spiritually religious and politically religious ones, tell the world that fact at every opportunity. Iran also knows, however, that such objectives can only be achieved by playing the game of political chess that will allow it to eventually wipe the board clean with a single blow.
Â Â Â Â The tragedy of this reality is that the West will not learn from its own history, thereby dooming it to yet another repetition of the same lesson. The West, especially the EU, is determined to make negotiation, compromise, and agreement with tyrants work this time, even if there is no precedent for such success. The inevitable result will be conflict at the time of the tyrantâ€™s choosing, just when the West is least prepared to deal with such conflict.
Â Â Â Â There is no doubt that the alternatives to negotiation are difficult and potentially tragic in their own right. Such alternatives almost inevitably lead to military conflict with Iran and possibly the wider fundamentalist Muslim world, but any scenario under which such a conflict with a conventional Iran can occur has to be infinitely better than a conflict with a nuclear Iran.
Â Â Â Â Is negotiation and compromise securing peace with Iran? Hardly. It is merely setting the stage for a more tragic war.