The Prospective Return of Global Appeasement
JNS.org – An all-too familiar voice in foreign-policy circles has yet again been heard seeking to influence a potential US president.
Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state whose advice has been sought by successive American presidents for more than six decades, has now recommended that Joe Biden should end President Donald Trump’s bullish approach to China and make nice with it instead.
Kissinger is the apostle of the strategy of realpolitik, otherwise known as “realism” or achieving a “balance of power.” Its aim is not to see right triumph over wrong but, as he has put it, “to establish commodious relations where that is possible, and stalemates where that is not.”
The foreign-policy and national security administration that Biden is assembling around himself chimes with Kissinger’s advice.
It’s because Kissinger’s “realpolitik” is actually a strategy of appeasement. And Biden’s team amounts to a resurrection of the liberal universalist establishment, one of whose foundational beliefs is that Western power is illegitimate and should not be exercised.
Starting from the premise that the Western nation-state is intrinsically bad, liberal universalists privilege trans-national institutions such as the United Nations despite its institutionalized hostility to the West.
Taking refuge in the fantasy politics of “conflict resolution” and “peace processes,” they believe that all conflict can be ended by the application of reason and that war must be replaced by law. In a knockdown fight between good and evil, liberal universalists split the difference and call that justice.
This doctrine forms the unchallengeable orthodoxy of the foreign-policy establishment, which has been eclipsed over the past four years by the orthodoxy-busting deal-maker in the White House who believes in the heresy of putting his country first.
Trump believes that to avoid war, the United States needs to display maximum strength. Liberal universalists hold instead that to avoid war, you befriend those who threaten you. The outcome of that profound delusion is that tyranny is incentivized and war becomes much more likely.
Under former President Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which at best would delay its ability to build nuclear weapons by only a few years, billions of dollars poured into Tehran while the regime steadily increased its power across the region and continued to ramp up its terrorist activities.
Only when Trump took America out of the deal and reimposed sanctions did the regime start to totter and hopes began to grow that it might implode without the need for war.
Under successive American presidents, whether or not they were well-disposed towards Israel, appeasement of the Palestinians took the form of an endless peace process.
In order to keep the Palestinians in this process, the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union refused to bring up anything that would cause them to walk out.
This meant ignoring their incitement to violence, their incendiary antisemitism and their declared aim of using a Palestinian state as means of destroying Israel in stages. The result of this surrender to blackmail was not peace, but endless Palestinian attacks against Israel through terrorism, murder, and war.
When Trump ended this lethal appeasement strategy and instead moved the US embassy to Jerusalem as a defiant statement of the Jews’ right to the land, the foreign-policy establishment confidently asserted that this would cause the region to go up in flames.
Not only did this not happen, with no one other than the Palestinians and their acolytes turning a hair, but the Gulf states started to normalize relations with Israel. This ended the Palestinian veto on peace and advanced the prospect of an end to the Arab war against Israel more than at any time since the 1920s.
But now these gains may be put into reverse. Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State is Antony Blinken, the Jewish stepson of a UN lawyer and the ultimate foreign-policy establishment insider.
Blinken served as President Bill Clinton’s chief foreign-policy speechwriter, a national security adviser to Biden, and deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry. He is said to be a centrist who won’t make aid to Israel conditional on its policy choices, will keep the US embassy in Jerusalem, and will support Israel at the United Nations.
But the label “centrist” means he is a liberal universalist, and thus committed to policies that ultimately rest upon the appeasement of evil people.
He was closely involved in creating the Iran nuclear deal and has claimed that America’s withdrawal from that agreement in May 2018 placed Israel in more peril from Iran rather than less. That is emphatically not the view of Israel’s government, which views Trump’s resumption of sanctions as key to weakening the Iranian regime and hastening its collapse.
Asked in August what Biden would do if he was elected president, Blinken said he would “seek to build on the nuclear deal and to make it longer and stronger if Iran returns to strict compliance.”
That, he claimed, would put the United States in a much better position to push back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities “because we would once again be united with our partners instead of isolated from them.”
But that would mean being united with partners such as Britain and the European Union, who are desperate to resume lucrative deals with Iran that would fund the regime’s war against Israel and America.
Once again, the West’s billions would pour into Iran, boosting the regime’s power grab against all pro-Western regimes and enabling it to expand its terror networks in the Middle East and around the world. It would also abandon the Iranians suffering so grievously under the regime’s violations of human rights, ostensibly the liberal internationalists’ signature cause.
This week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Biden’s prospective team for living in a “fantasy world.” He said, “They led from behind, they appeased. I hope they will choose a different course.”
Biden’s choice as ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who was an assistant Secretary of State under Obama, declared this week that multilateralism and diplomacy were back.
In response, Pompeo snapped that the Trump administration had developed “coalitions that actually deliver real results and reflect the reality on the ground,” and that America’s best interests were not served by “multilateralism for the sake of hanging out with your buddies at a cool cocktail party.”
Opponents of appeasement are often called warmongers. Winston Churchill, who during the 1930s fruitlessly warned that Hitler’s aggression needed to be curbed, was dismissed as such until his country realized almost too late that Hitler had Britain in his sights, as well as half of Europe.
The fact that Biden’s team consists of so many Obama-era retreads is causing concern among those Americans who understand the harm Obama inflicted upon their nation’s foundational principles.
They are no less concerned that Biden would essentially continue Obama’s strategy to reduce America’s standing in the world and thus weaken both the United States and the West that it leads.
It was a strategy that, under Obama, empowered those bent upon evil. Rational people everywhere, in the developing world no less than the West, should shudder at its prospective return in America.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster, and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.