Bruce Ramsey, an editorial writer for the Seattle Times’s “Editoral [sic] Board” writes at the Times’s editorial page blog:
The narrative we’re given about Munich is entirely in hindsight. We know what kind of man Hitler was, and that he started World War II in Europe. But in 1938 people knew a lot less. What Hitler was demanding at Munich was not unreasonable as a national claim (though he was making it in a last-minute, unreasonable way.) Germany’s claim was that the areas of Europe that spoke German and thought of themselves as German be under German authority. In September 1938 the principal remaining area was the Sudetenland.
Wow. Ramsey needs to read William Shirer if he actually believes this crap.
For the record, we knew everything we needed to know about Hitler in 1925, if only we had taken him at his word. In 1925, Mein Kampf spelled out everything he planned to do. Shirer writes:
For whatever other accusations can be made against Adolf Hitler, no one can accuse him of not putting down in writing exactly the kind of Germany he intended to make if he ever came to power and the kind of world he meant to create by armed German conquest. The blueprint of the Third Reich, and, what is more, of the barbaric New Order which Hitler inflicted on conquered Europe in the triumphant years between 1939 and 1945 is set down in all its appalling crudity at great length and in detail between the covers of this revealing book.
Each of Hitler’s “bloodless” conquests that preceded the war was executed in the context of a campaign of terror by local Nazis and the threat of invasion by the massed armies of Germany. In the lead up to Munich, the West repeatedly bent over backward to agree to Hitler’s demands, but no such appeasement was ever enough. In the case of Czechoslovakia, Hitler first wanted Germany to take over the Sudetenland if a plebiscite approved, then without a plebiscite, then without a plebiscite and with an immediate military occupation. (The relevance of the immediate occupation is clear, as the Sudetenland contained all the defenses that Czechoslovakia had built to protect themselves from Germany. Its occupation meant the end of Czechoslovakia.) Hitler’s demands at Munich, which Ramsey thinks were reasonable, were in fact the most unreasonable in a long chain of unreasonable demands.
In the course of speaking out against speaking out against appeasement, Ramsey commits the same error as Neville Chamberlain; he believes that we can achieve peace with monsters through negotiation. Hitler and Ahmedinejad have something in common. In both cases, the man has said exactly what he plans to do, but the West cannot believe he really means it. (Moreover, there’s some similarity between the two plans, at least as regards the Jews.)
Ramsey ultimately negates himself, though, by claiming that Hitler’s demands were not unreasonable. If you can’t see what Hitler was doing with seventy years of hindsight, you’re not qualified to comment on the crises of today.
POSTSCRIPT: Ramsey has silently edited his column since it was blogged by Sound Politics and LGF. The earlier version was even more bizarre.