Israeli Politician Likens Iraq Proposals to 1930s Appeasement

By Kevin Mooney | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

( - Policy recommendations by the Iraq Study Group (ISG) are driven by a desire to appease rather than confront Islamic extremists and rogue regimes in the 21st Century, a senior Israeli politician said Thursday.

Uzi Landau, a member of the opposition Likud Party, said he saw a parallel between the bilateral panel's report and Western powers' failed attempt to placate Nazi Germany in the late 1930s.

Any attempt to appease regimes in Syria and Iran would ultimately place the free world in greater jeopardy and extract higher costs over the long-term, he told Cybercast News Service in an interview.

Landau served as a member of the Knesset from 1984 to 2006, and currently occupies a prominent leadership position in Likud. He is on a speaking tour in the U.S.

The ISG, co-chaired by Secretary of State James Baker and former U.S. Congressman Lee Hamilton, has recommended that the U.S. actively seek dialogue with Iran and Syria as a way of alleviating the violence in Iraq.

Landau said the ISG's recommendations were akin to the appeasement policies of Britain's prime minister from 1937 to 1940, Neville Chamberlain.

He favored instead a renewed commitment to victory modeled after the example of Chamberlain's successor, Winston Churchill.

"You do not fight terror with appeasement," the Israeli said. "You don't negotiate, instead you fight until you prevail. But when you look at the Baker-Hamilton report what you see is no different from Chamberlain's policy toward Germany."

"The approach underlying this [ISG] report is that throwing sheep to the wolf will turn the wolf into a vegetarian," he said. "This will not happen."

Landau said the historical lessons of the 1930s have not made a sufficient impression on Western leaders today because modern society, beguiled by "consumerism," would rather delay action than face a problem head on.

In the case of Iran, he contended, the West does not have the luxury of avoiding confrontation because Tehran is motivated by a "malignant ideology of expansion" that seeks to impose a radical view of Islam on the free world.

"There is no mercy for the weak in the Middle East," Landau said.

As a way of counteracting the threat posed by Iran's drive for nuclear weapons, he said he favors the deployment of a missile defense system, and noted that there has already been considerable U.S.-Israeli cooperation in that area.

Daniel Levy, a senior fellow with The Century Foundation (TCF), sharply disagreed with Landau's assessment, saying that instead of shunning diplomacy, U.S. officials should open a dialogue with Syria and Iran so they can correctly gauge America's options in the Middle East.

"The idea that says you are embracing the other side just because you get into the same room is a denial of what diplomacy is all about," he said Thursday.

A dialogue with Syria may "pry" Damascus away from the Iranian regime.

Levy said it may be possible in engaging with Iran to lay the foundation for a "grand bargain" with negotiators placing "everything" on the table, including the nuclear issue, Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

And even if it was unlikely the West could enter into a meaningful relationship with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he added, diplomacy may nonetheless impact the internal politics of Iran.

"The process you set in motion internally in Iran when you begin a dialogue may be an interesting one," he said. "You could positively feed into the ongoing interaction between different sectors of power in Iran."

Levy also said it was mistake to view the Iranian leadership as a "monolith" and said other forces at work there may be more open to American overtures.

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