The Art of "Munich-ing"
The lazy reasoning employed by modern neocons.
Everything to neocons is a “Munich moment.”
John Kerry argued that the U.S. response to chemical weapons in Syria was a “Munich moment.” Music was invoked by Kennedy and Johnson to justify Vietnam. It shaped the thinking behind the Gulf War for both Republicans and Democrats and later the response to 9/11. Who can forget Bush’s line “Our strategy is this: We will fight them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America?”
Invoking Chamberlain has become the standard response to any expressed hesitation at involving the United States further in Ukraine. Simply asking why Ukraine needs billions of our taxpayer dollars without oversight now means you’re a Hitler-appeaser:
The argument between Texas Senator John Cornyn and The Federalist’s Sean Davis began over the former criticizing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s characterization of the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a territorial dispute.
Davis wasn’t wrong. Cornyn, however, is.
Sidebar: There is some interesting debate around Chamberlain and the British government buying time to prepare for certain war by leveraging a nation they knew they couldn’t save.
“In short, Chamberlain’s government did not believe that Britain had the military muscle either to deter German aggression or to actually defeat Germany in the event that it couldn’t be deterred. The British were well aware that a revisionist Germany had been rearming while Britain and France – in deference to post-war domestic political sensibilities – had been disarming. And the evidence suggests that they were painfully aware that by 1938 Britain had no realistic hope of prevailing in another war with Germany.
And so, the Chamberlain government decided to take the only course of action open to it: delay military confrontation with Germany until Britain had adequately prepared itself for a major war.”
We are not remotely in this same situation.
Sure, there are some similarities: A tyrant, annexation, blathering about the motherland, but that’s where the similarities end. Putin is a weakened shadow of his former self, his economy is propped up by Chinese dollars for dirty Russian gas and OPEC+. The United States and European allies have levied sanctions, not silence, against the aggressor. Putin’s only hope of victory lies in a war of attrition unless peace negotiations take place.
What is his idea of “victory?” What is Ukraine’s?
Neocons who struggle with basic geography argue that Putin’s imperialist expansionism will put Russia at NATO’s borders. Five NATO members already border Russia: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Poland. Now what?
There are a few scenarios here:
Cornyn is suggesting that Russia is going to invade a NATO nation.
Cornyn is suggesting that Russia is going to go full “Red Dawn” and invade the U.S.
Both of these are unrealistic scenarios.
Fearmongering a Republican governor with the threat of war in our country — and using the words of a foreign leader to do it — as a substitute for smart deterrence and peace through strength is shallow and lazy.
A strong United States is a deterrent to tyrants. Millions of Americans have no desire to further involve our nation in a conflict encouraged by weak leadership in Washington.
(We reached out to Senator Cornyn’s office to invite him to discuss this on my program and his office replied that he was traveling in the state and unable to join.)