Spectre of Munich 1938 hangs over Singapore

Eighty years ago, British PM Neville Chamberlain went to Munich for a summit meeting with Adolf Hitler, to save the world from a military cataclysm. At the time, Hitler’s scientists were already working hard to unlock the destructive force of the atom. His „rocket men” were busy designing the first prototypes of the pilotless delivery vehicles that would pummel London a few years later, killing thousands of civilians. By 1938 Hitler had built himself a mighty army, navy and air force. He had already published his testament, outlining his disdain for democratic rule, and his animus towards anyone who was not part of his ‘Master Race’. Jews were fleeing for their lives, from Germany and Hungary, Europeans were fearful, and desperate for peace. Many still remembered the horrors of WWI that killed millions and had ended less than 20 years earlier.

Chamberlain was convinced that he could make a deal with Hitler. He thought he had the touch, the feel, for pacifying the power-hungry, racist dictator. He went to Munich to secure “peace with honour for our times”, and came home clutching a piece of paper that was a recipe for a disaster.

In a private communication with his beloved sister Hilda, Chamberlain was ebullient about his encounter with the Nazi dictator. He described Hitler as a thoughtful and wise leader, who loved his countrymen, and wanted only the best for the people of Europe:

“I had a very friendly and pleasant talk with him at one in the morning. At the end I pulled out the declaration which I had prepared beforehand and asked if he would sign it. Hitler said Yes, I will certainly sign it. When shall we do it? “Now”, came his reply. We went at once to the writing table and put our signatures to the two copies which I had brought back with me.”

Publicly, these were the words he used to describe the biggest affinity fraud of the 20th century, the one that ended taking the lives of 100 million people by the time it was over seven years later:

„Here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. We regard the agreement signed last night, as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.”

According to historians Frederik Logevall and Kenneth Osgood, the granting of legitimacy, and virtue to Hitler was a case of catastrophic shortsightedness. They conclude: “Those presidents who challenged the ‘tyranny of Munich’ have often achieved policy breakthroughs and those who had cited Munich as a principle of U.S. foreign policy had often led the nation into its “most enduring tragedies” (see here).

The similarity between Donald Trump’s gushing endorsements of Kim Jung-un and Vladimir Putin this past weekend is vintage appeasement. Trump’s crass disdain for the suffering millions, who live under rule-of-law violating regimes, in North Korea, Russia, Syria, China, Turkey, Hungary, and his bullying of the people of Canada („I’ll make Canadians pay for the words of their PM”) is not fake news, but harsh reality. It’s identical to how Chamberlain threw the people of Czechoslovakia, Eastern Europe, and the democratic resistance in all of those countries under the bus in 1938, thereby emboldening the fascists to double down on their opponents everywhere. Kristallnacht, the first step to the massacre of the Jews, was launched in November 1938 by Hitler, even before the ink had dried on the Munich ‘peace’ document.

The summit in Singapore is remarkably similar to how Hitler suckered Chamberlain and led the European democracies to the gates of Hell. Trump’s public support for petty tyrants throughout the world, and his scorn for his democratic allies, who are now fighting for survival in dozens of places, and especially in Europe, is a stunning development, because the threat to justice, the rule of law and sustainable economic development is inside the gates of the most powerful member of the Western world.

Photo: Shealah Craighead / White House

Ultimately one has to ask: why is Trump doing this? Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman’s answer, unfortunately, will not do. Donald Trump and his bullies have not lost their minds but are using them according to their own logic. They are fully at home on a playing field that rejects fair play, where strong-arm tactics and the use of deceptive language dominate. This is why Trump is tougher on Trudeau than on Putin, why he shall never confront China, and will sacrifice the entire Western Alliance if he’s allowed to do so and realign America with the authoritarian tide sweeping across the world. He is non-ideological. He uses the language of the evangelists, strictly for tactical purposes, to get out of the traffic jam on his way to his bank or to a Stormy Daniel. He will not back regime change in the direction of Western liberal values, because that is counter to his interests. He’ll offer a protective umbrella to any fly-by-night authoritarian wannabee, because they are the “tough cookies” he understands, they are the ones he can wheel and deal with in the same way he wheeled and dealed with the sharks in the New York real estate market, intimidating his suppliers, not paying his bills, ripping off anyone he could along the way. Grab’em by the pussy and see ya later alligator.

It’s time Republicans realised that their leader is a far bigger threat to free markets and democratic governance than Putin. Trump is Putin’s, Kim’s, Assad’s, Orbán’s ace in the hole. (The latter is already practicing his handshake for his upcoming visit to the White House.) America and the world reached a crossroad in Singapore. It is last call for the defenders of justice, the rule of law and those who want to save the planet from the wrecking crew that looks upon fact-based political discourse, fair-trade and sustainable economic development, as a sick joke.

András Göllner

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András Göllner’s piece originally appeared on the Social Europe news site. HFP is re-publishing this article with the editor’s permission.

9 Comments

  1. You have formed a very wrong comparison. It is the Obama-Ayatola deal that appear to be parallel to Chamberlain. That “deal” licensed agression and Obama surrendered to the Mufties. But they immediately use every penny Obama handed over to them to finance aggression against Israel,Yemen, Somalia Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, etc.

    Iran is the real trouble in Europe and the middle-east. China’s lapdog Kim only serving Xi’s interest to get the US forces out of South Korea, then from the entire continent. China is about to force everybody out of the South-China sea area. That’s the end of Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, and likely the entire pacific region.

    It is the “re devision of the world”. Just as Uljanov have advocated way back. It has always been since the beginning for power and influence among the ‘big dogs’ on the block.

  2. György Lázár says:

    Very good analysis! Trump deals with world leaders just like he does “with the sharks in the New York real estate market, intimidating his suppliers, not paying his bills, ripping off anyone he could along the way.” Trump considers his fellow leaders “thugs” who want to rip off his beloved USA. Ironically, some of them are thugs indeed… e.g. Mr. Orbán just started to realize that Hungary will have to triple NATO contribution. Also, last year Hungary exported 3 billion USD worth goods to the US while imported only 1 billion. Trump does not like countries with US trade deficit.. Hungary will soon realize that in order to remain Trump’s friend Orbán might have to bankrupt the country… I disagree with András that Trump “shall never confront China”.. He is going after China with a gusto and the ultimate goal is to reform China’s corrupt trade practices. That might even lead to a more democratic system there. I hope that the trade spat with Canada will be resolved… NAFTA needs to be modified, Bernie Sanders talked about it for years.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/02/sanders-and-trump-agree-nafta-has-to-change-they-split-on-how-to-fix-it/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f99ae397a765

  3. Well Mr. Lazar, your views are not outlandish at all. But that was really not the subject here. On MAGA one needs to realize the simple facts. That while the US was the foremost productive and industrialized nation on face of this Earth, today due to all the errors that all previous leaders in the past 40-60 years has ignored is that today we are not able to produce the goods that we consume daily.

    That has been neglected far too long for the sake of leftist-liberal ideological interests. Even now it may too late. Since there is no-one else who can even realize the damages already done.

  4. Hey Mr. Lazar, just what does Hungary exports to the US $3 billion worth ? I have not seen any Hungarian product any place in the US over 50 years. Even that was some lousy wine, that has not been imported ever since. May be Rubick’s cube was the very last.

  5. So is Trump Hitler reincarnated or Chamberlain? I wish liberals would make up their minds. Not that I like the guy, I think he is scum, but have to say that I kind of like the effect he has on the liberal establishment.

    Other than that, putting Hungary in the same category with North Korea or Syria? Seriously? A bit hysterical perhaps? Or perhaps a lot hysterical!

  6. György Lázár says:

    Mr. Bendeguz79, Since you asked… Hungary’s deficit with the US was about 4 billion USD in 2015.. it has dropped since. Hungary’s main exports: cars and car parts e.g the expensive Audi TT and many Mercedes sold in the US were manufactured in Hungary.

  7. Mr. Lazar;
    You wrote yesterday. June 21,2018 ,9;07 pm;

    1., “…last year Hungary exported 3 billion USD worth of goods to the US while imported 1 billion…”

    Hungary’s deficit was about 4 billion USD in 2015…it has dropped since than…”

    Mr. Lazar, are you not a bit confused?
    Yesterday Hungary had at least an annual 2 billion USD SURPLUS (3 billionUSD-1 billion USD) 2 billion USD surplus.

    Today Hungary has a trade “deficit”.

    2., Demler (Mercedes Benz) BMW are produced in US not just for the US market but some also exported to other markets.

    3., Hungary has NO automobile industry ! There is NO Hungarian made car !!! Those German firms that has factories in Hungary and delivers that product to their plants somewhere else for assembly, is being their products. It benefits Hungary as they pay Hungarian workers there and taxes to the government there.

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      Hungary absolutely has an automobile industry. Just one important example: the Magyar Suzuki Corporation, which has been operating since the early nineties. Suzuki has manufactured 3 million cars in Hungary over the past 26 years, many of them exported to other European countries and sold in foreign markets.

  8. Wishing the best to my hardworking troll enthusiasts on Quebec’s National Holiday, St John the Baptist Day. Try some kim chi with your poutine. The best junk food on the menu, especially for a guy like, Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater. 🙂

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