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Our View: The parallels of history

Obama’s negotiating with the Iranians has many parallels to Neville Chamberlain and Adolph Hitler.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. April 22, 2015
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain believed he could trust and celebrated a signed agreement with Adolph Hitler that Britain and Germany would never go to war again. Will Barack Obama be our Neville Chamberlain? Courtesy photos
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain believed he could trust and celebrated a signed agreement with Adolph Hitler that Britain and Germany would never go to war again. Will Barack Obama be our Neville Chamberlain? Courtesy photos
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Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from a speech Matt Walsh delivered this month to the Volusia-Flagler Jewish Federation and Tiger Bay of Volusia County.

The parallels of history are remarkable, indeed, often extraordinary.

Early September 1938.

Tensions are rising over Adolph Hitler’s threatened aggression on Czechoslovakia.

Leaders in the French government sent a communique to Great Britain Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. They suggested it might be a good idea if their two nations paid a joint visit to Herr Hitler.

But much to the shock of the French and Czech leaders, Neville Chamberlain, on his own, had already been writing secret letters to Hitler.

Now let’s jump ahead 70 years. 

In the midst of the 2008 presidential election campaign, a Democratic senator secretly sent a personal emissary to Tehran, encouraging the Iranian mullahs not to sign an agreement with the outgoing Bush Administration. 

The senator tells the Iranians negotiations would take on a much friendlier tone after President Bush’s departure from office.

And that senator? Barack Obama.

History is repeating … 

On Sept. 16, 1938, Prime Minister Chamberlain met Hitler alone in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Chamberlain later told his biographer:

“In spite of the hardness and ruthlessness I thought I saw in the Chancellor’s face, I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word.”

Two weeks later, on Sept. 28, Chamberlain went to meet with Hitler again in Munich. This time, the “Big Four” were there: French leaders, Italy’s Benito Mussolini, Chamberlain and Hitler.

They reached a historic agreement — that the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia was to be evacuated by the Czechs and turned over to Germany.

And while the final documents were being drafted, Neville Chamberlain asked for another private meeting with Hitler.

He handed Hitler a letter. And among the statements in the letter was this: 

“We regard the Agreement signed last night, and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.”

In Winston Churchill’s book, “The Gathering Storm,” he recounts: “Hitler read this note and signed it without demur.”

As Chamberlain’s car drove through cheering crowds in London on his way back from the airport, Chamberlain turned to Lord Halifax and said: 

“All this will be over in three months. This is the second time there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace in our time,” Chamberlain said.

Of course, we all know how trustworthy Adolph Hitler was.


The parallels of history are remarkable.

In the first book of Winston Churchill’s epic autobiography, “The Gathering Storm,” Churchill recounts the rise of Hitler. 

After Germany lost World War I, Hitler became consumed by the agony of defeat. He started associating with German Nationalists, from whom Hitler “heard stories of sinister, undermining activities of another race, exploiters of the Nordic world — the Jews.”

This spawned Hitler’s infamous “Mein Kampf,” his political philosophy, written while he was in prison in 1924. And in it, Hitler laid out everything — as Churchill wrote: “… the program of German Resurrection … the rightful position of Germany at the summit of the world.”

Churchill, in 1948, called “Mein Kampf” “the new Koran of faith and war.”

Hitler wrote: “The fighting capacity of a race depends on its purity. Hence the need for ridding it of foreign defilements.”

Hence the need for ridding it of the Jews. 

And yet, despite all of this and all of Hitler’s actions, Neville Chamberlain believed “here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word.”

All the while, and for a long time unbeknown to the French and British, and in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler surreptitiously had been spending millions upon millions of German marks re-arming itself.

And all the while, for more than two decades, the Iranians have been telling the world they are not developing nuclear weapons or arming themselves. But unlike Hitler, they are not doing it surreptitiously. They are doing it right in front of the world’s eyes.

And like Hitler, while it has been developing its WMDs, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini has frequently spewed his venom: 

“Israel is the sinister, unclean, rabid dog of the region.” And … “It is a ‘jurisprudential justification’ to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel.”

The parallels of history are remarkable.

Leadership. Let’s take a few moments to illustrate the parallels and contrasts of leadership.

On Sept. 21, 1938, the British and French ministers called on the president of Czechoslovakia and told him his country would have to give up the Sudetenland to Germany or be invaded.

Chamberlain caved to Hitler.

On the same day, Winston Churchill issued the following statement:

“The partition of Czechoslovakia under pressure from England and France amounts to the complete surrender of the Western Democracies to the Nazi threat of force. 

“Such a collapse will bring peace or security neither to England nor to France. 

“On the contrary, it will place these two nations in an ever-weaker and more dangerous situation.”

March 3, 2015: Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu tells a joint session of the  U.S. Congress: 

“… I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past … Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.”

This moment — of negotiating with the world’s greatest terrorist state — reminds us, too, of another president who confronted a world threat: Harry Truman.

On June 24, 1950, the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea in a full-out assault and attack.

As Truman rode to the White House after a Saturday in Independence, Mo., he told Dean Acheson in the car:

“By God, I am going to let them have it.”

In his autobiography, Truman wrote:

“This was not the first occasion when the strong had attacked the weak. I recalled some earlier instances: Manchuria, Ethiopia, Austria. I remembered how each time the democracies failed to act, they had encouraged the aggressors to keep going ahead.

“I felt certain that if South Korea were allowed to fall, Communist leaders would be emboldened to override nations closer to our own shores.”

We all know what Truman did. He confronted the attackers with full force. The nation hailed Truman.

Now contrast that with today’s president.

When Syria’s Assad crossed the line in the sand with chemical weapons, Barack Obama did nothing. As ISIS has spread, he has done little to nothing. As Putin pushed into Ukraine, he has done nothing. With each show of weakness, the aggressors have become emboldened. Iran now controls four Arab states: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

President Obama has ignored the parallels of history.


Adolph Hitler wanted to conquer all of Europe and exterminate the Jews. 

Ayatollah Khomeini and his radical Islamic extremists want to go further. First, to establish a Middle Eastern caliphate and annihilate all infidels. Second, a worldwide caliphate. 

“Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them,” orders the Koran, (chapter 9, 5). And as an Iranian general was quoted last week: “Israel’s destruction is non-negotiable.”

The parallels of history are extraordinary.



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