In September 1938 English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, explaining why he was flying to Germany a third time in order to make peace with Germany, recited the old nursery rhyme: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” Cynical wags in the Foreign Office, who knew Chamberlain was in fact appeasing Hitler by surrendering Czechoslovakia to him, quickly began circulating another version of the saying: “If at first you don’t concede, fly, fly, fly again.”
President Obama’s new “outreach” to the Muslim world reminds me of Chamberlain’s serial efforts to appease a Germany bent on aggression and conquest. First there was the Cairo speech in June 2009, which was supposed to be a “new beginning” for U.S. relations with Muslims, but in fact simply indulged the same old bad habits of Western self-doubt and historical guilt. Thus Obama attributed the “tension” between the West and Islam to a “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold war in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.” Next came the videotaped New Year’s greetings to Iran, and the multiple letters to the Iranian “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei requesting “co-operation in regional and bilateral relations.” These outreaches were followed by Khameini’s announcement that “the path of Iran’s nuclear progress could not be blocked,” and by the brutal crackdown that summer on the demonstrators protesting the tyranny of the mullahcracy. Meanwhile Iran continues its support of terrorists murdering our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.