19 March 2004

For US hawks, Madrid 2004 = Munich 1938

But aside from this rather fundamental disagreement over whether Iraq is or is not part of the 'war against terrorism', the eagerness with which the hawks have taken to comparing the Spanish electorate's verdict to the 1938 Munich agreement also betrays a basic distrust of democracy, about which the neo-cons have long been ambivalent.

In their view, it was liberal democracies that appeased Hitler in the 1930s and so paved the way to World War II and the Nazi Holocaust. Indeed, the perception that 'liberals' failed to fight for their principles in the 1960s is what first alienated neo-conservatives from the Democratic Party.

The neo-cons' perception that Spaniards voted for the Socialists out of fear of al-Qaeda's wrath confirms to them that democracy, particularly of the European variety, is weak.

In actuality Chamberlain was a realpolitik conservative and Daladier was a centrist. Neither could remotely be called liberals. They acted over Poland, not Czechosolvakia, because their electorates demanded it. Even after Poland Chamberlain continued to advocate a negotiated settlement with Germany.

For such deep thinkers, the neocons have a surprisingly weak grasp of history.

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