Why Obama’s ‘extended hand’ is counter-productive
In the 19th century, U.S. abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison astutely observed, “With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.”
Garrison recognized something in the psyche of tyrants that withstands the test of time.
In the last century, Western leaders failed to heed Garrison’s advice and, as a result, opened the flood-gates of two of the greatest tragedies in modern history — fascism and communism — at tremendous human cost and suffering:
In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany in hopes of appeasing Adolf Hitler’s aggression. Then in 1945, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Chamberlain’s successor, Winston Churchill, conceded to a Soviet Union sphere of political influence in Eastern and Central Europe believing Joseph Stalin could be reasoned with.
At the time Churchill even remarked, “Poor Neville Chamberlain believed he could trust Hitler. He was wrong, but I don’t think I’m wrong about Stalin.” He lived to regret his serious miscalculation.
Unfortunately, U.S. President Barack Obama began his 21st Century presidency, also failing to heed Garrison’s advice, offering an “extended hand” to the rogue regimes of our time. During his inaugural speech in 2009, Obama famously stated, “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
The results have been counter-productive; the more so because the president prematurely “extends his hand” before tyrants give the slightest indication of “unclenching their fists.”
In Iran, Obama ignored the calls for freedom by the Green Movement in 2009, when thousands risked (and many lost) their lives to protest that country’s brutal regime, and sent a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seeking to improve relations. The result has been a more belligerent Iran – one intent on fomenting terrorism and building nuclear weapons.
In Syria, the president bet that tyrant Bashar al-Assad was something of a “reformer.” In 2011, as Syrians in their quest for freedom took to street demonstrations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doubled down on Obama’s bet apparently thinking we could reason with Assad. The result has been 50,000 civilian deaths and a threat to unleash chemical weapons on his own people and, perhaps, even his neighbors.
In Cuba, Obama eased travel and remittance sanctions almost immediately upon taking office as a “good-faith gesture”. The response has been the taking of an American hostage, Alan P. Gross, who recently began his fourth year in one of Castro’s prisons, and the sharpest spike in repression since the 1960’s. Last year alone there were over 6,250 documented political arrests by the Castro regime against peaceful democracy activists.
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