This editorial by Prof. Bowen was published in the News Leader (Staunton VA: May 25, 2010): A7.
by Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
Professor, Depts. of Political Science and of International Relations, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA 24401
Since it sometimes is difficult to read every word of a scanned article (as above), here is a clear copy of the original version of this editorial for readers' reference. Links to sources supporting various facts cited also are supplied below:
More at stake than young hikers in new Iranian story
Concern over how to avoid catching the economic flu spilling out of Europe has rattled U.S. markets in recent weeks. But the really dangerous Continental plague we need inoculation against is the disease of appeasing terrorists and terrorist governments that European leaders have re-lapsed into recently.
In its original version, 1930’s appeasement focused democracies’ leaders on how best to bow to the aggressions of Adolf Hitler and his pal Benito Mussolini. First Ethiopia, then Spain weren’t worth the European democrats’ protection. Then, in 1938, Britain’s Neville Chamberlain and France’s Édouard Dalladier sacrificed the rest of their principles for expediency, preferring to give away democratic Czechoslovakia’s freedom to gain a few more months of peace. Appeasement bought so little peace that after World War II, for two generations kow-towing to dictators was discredited as a route to security.
Oh how times have changed! Last August, our British friends accommodated Libya’s strongman Muammar al-Gaddafi. Hiding behind misplaced “compassion” for a sick inmate, Scottish officials released Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the convicted killer of 259 air travelers back in 1988. (Nearly all who died when Megrahi bombed Pan Am 103 flight were U.S. citizens). German officials, too, found gains for themselves by showing similar compassion for thugs when, in December 2005, they let out of their prison Mohammed Ali Hamadi, the convicted murderer of U.S. Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, a victim of terrorism in 1985 who had been killed simply because he was an American on an ill-fated terrorist target, TWA Flight 847. And now, this week, France has re-joined the European appeasers: it released from its jail Ali Vakili Rad, the assassin convicted of the 1991 killing in Paris of Iranian former Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar. Discounting the effects that flow from appeasing proven terrorist governments, Britain won access to Libyan oil, and France and Germany won release of a couple of their citizens who had been abducted by other terrorists.
Into this sorry spectacle stumble American innocents. This week our sentimental hearts have gone out to the mothers of three American young people, Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd. All were innocent hikers in Northern Iraq who were jailed by Iran for wandering over an unmarked border. The three have been held in the notorious Evin Prison for nine months. Mawkish news clips have featured their mothers’ sad journey to Tehran to plead for their release. Thanked effusively for its “humanitarian” act in allowing the moms a brief audience with their now gaunt offspring, Iran’s foreign ministry made sure tables laden with fruit and goodies filled television screens as the teary reunion took place not at Evin but in a posh hotel suite. The well-orchestrated message: Iran is no bully, and it now wants to make a deal; what has America to offer in exchange at the prisoner bazaar?
We all must empathize with these kids, and with their moms. A French family, that of Clotilde Reiss, must have felt these same emotions when it pressed their government to deal with Iran after Clotilde (a 25 year old girl) was pulled from her flight to Paris as it was re-fueling in Tehran last July, and who also was charged with “espionage.” The French Government seems to have been swayed, as Clotilde was released by Iran within two days of France’s release of Ali Vakili Rad, the convicted assassin. Terrorist governments such as Iran’s know what game they are playing when they seize hostages and toy with families’ emotions: Rad returned to a hero’s welcome upon arrival in Tehran. If we follow their example and make a similar deal to win the American hikers’ release, what will the Iranians demand after they take the next Americans hostage? Appeasement is a very slippery slope.
written May 21, 2010
Gordon L. Bowen
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