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What Is Appeasement?

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Recall the Soviet Union, whose leaders vowed to "bury" America and truly had the power to do it.

I have something to confess, dear readers. In the 1980s, I went to the Soviet Embassy in Washington to meet there with assembled ranking members of the Communist Party. Each had sworn to the defeat of America and triumph of international Communism. Included in the group were agents of the dread KGB.

Why was I there? To give a briefing on American politics, with a particular emphasis on California, a major area of interest to Soviet intelligence.

Was I a traitor? Was I engaging in what President Bush yesterday described as "appeasement?"

As Borat would put it, "Not so much." I was there, as an advisor to a U.S. senator, and having been trained in the U.S. military to kill Russians and learn Soviet doctrines, to talk.

A long line of leaders of the Soviet Union vowed to destroy America. And these guys actually did have the power to do it. This was the Cold War. Which at times was extremely hot. Both overtly and covertly.

Did we negotiate with the Soviets on a regular basis? Did we talk with them, even those who clearly had blood on their hands, even American blood? Of course. As a matter, frankly, of routine. Bear in mind that the Soviet Union murdered tens of millions of people, far more than Nazi Germany, indeed, far more than any other world power in the history of this planet.

This did not make Ronald Reagan an appeaser any more than I was an appeaser. Reagan, in fact, engaged in summitry with Soviet leaders to win PR victories. And with constant vigilance, and a policy of aggressive containment, the Cold War was successfully concluded with the defeat of the Soviet Union.

Since then, some of my closest friends have been Russians, now free from the yoke of Communism. Free to pursue the American dream of Armani and champagne.

Anyone who understands history knows these things. I've defended Bush from hyperpartisan lefties who insist that he is stupid. He's hardly that; as best I can make out, he has an IQ of 128. Which is certainly smart enough for big-time politics.

Nevertheless, thanks to Bush's play, yesterday was, in game parlance, an unforced error for the Republicans.

John McCain, who has spent the bulk of the week showing his independence from a very unpopular president and a declining Republican brand, had just given an excellent speech. Which I wrote about at length yesterday.

Then President Bush said these things before Israel's parliament, the Knesset:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is--the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Which infuriated some of Israel's biggest backers, such as LA Congressman Henry Waxman.

As HuffPost and NWN readers are well aware, the Bush Administration is in fact negotiating with Iran now. Iran, most unfortunately, proved to have the necessary clout to end recent factional fighting in Iraq that was terribly distracting to our goal of bringing stability to that country more than five years after we defeated Saddam Hussein.

John McCain, who may feel he is in the business of building sand castles, had to choose between supporting his party's president -- who retains diehard support from the conservative base -- or denouncing his comments as the sort of hostile divisiveness he had himself just denounced in his Columbus, Ohio speech. McCain, as I've noted repeatedly, has a difficult balancing act to pull off in his run against Barack Obama.

He chose to support Bush. Which is exactly what Obama and the Democrats want.

Interception. Returned for touchdown.

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