Hitler and Mussolini, who had not previously shown great interest in a military alliance, were drawn closer, laying the basis for the Axis. And the manifest weakness of the free nations encouraged both fascist dictators to behave more aggressively in the future, as our weakness in Syria has so greatly encouraged the Russian and Iranian dictators today.
The Spanish Civil War marked the first global appearance of the Great Appeasement Circus headed for the big tent at Munich. The Western nations dreaded another world war, and feared their involvement might trigger a broader conflict. They were undoubtedly right, but as in the global war today, once the big conflict was “on” there were only two exits: winning or losing. As today, the leaders of the free nations refused to see that the totalitarians were bound and determined to destroy the West, and that the only real question was when and where the West would have to fight them. Our leaders today are striving mightily to close their eyes and ears to the acts and words of war aimed at us from the new totalitarians of radical Islam and a revived pseudo-revolutionary Communism. Just as Spain offered a chance to humiliate Hitler and Mussolini, so Syria offers the chance to deliver a deadly blow to Putin and Khamenei. But no American leader seems to be listening to the chants of “Death to America” from Tehran to Caracas.
Barack Obama, say hello to Leon Blum.
Finally, we will no doubt draw some misleading lessons from the fighting in Syria. Certainly the major military strategists of the 1930s did. Both the French and the Russians wrongly concluded that tank warfare was a thing of the past, which rendered them vulnerable to Hitler’s Panzers a few years later. Obama now acts as if traditional military forces are a thing of the past, which may redound to our ruin in the future. If the Chinese come after us, it won’t be the asymmetrical assault of the jihadis, but something much bigger.
Remember your Marx: “Hegel says somewhere that all great world historic facts and personages occur, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
UPDATE: Two great minds working in unison! My friend and colleague, Emanuele Ottoloenghi, had the same thought and wrote it with his usual acuity:
Also read: The Iranian Stink On The Mess In Syria