On Sept. 30, 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the “Munich Agreement,” a deal with Adolf Hitler that was supposed to mean “peace in our time.” The agreement allowed Hitler to keep the “Sudetenland” in hopes that such a concession would lower tensions and prevent war.
As everyone knows, the agreement failed to secure a lasting peace and, by allowing Hitler to arm himself and strategically position his troops, probably aided the Axis war effort.
That is the danger of a bad deal with a bad regime. If the United Kingdom, France and other powers had simply gone to war earlier, World War II would have likely ended sooner and with fewer casualties. Hitler’s Final Solution would not have stretched as wide as it did, and the world would have been better off for it.
The question we must ask ourselves in regards to the emerging framework of an Iranian deal announced by President Barack Obama’s administration, is simple: is this our generation’s Munich Agreement? Personally, I am unsure, but the parallels between contemporary Iran and Nazi Germany are scary to say the least.
Both are fascistic regimes, headed by anti-semitic, anti-democratic leaders. Like pre-war Germany, Iran has been positioning itself for regional territorial gains. Its influence in post-war Iraq helped give rise to ISIS through exploding sectarian tensions. Its involvement in the Syrian Civil War, in an effort to hold that country for Assad, has led to countless deaths. Recently, Iranian-sponsored rebels have made strong gains in Yemen. And of course, through Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran has ensured decades of death and high tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Iran wants influence – through power and land – a new Persian Empire of sorts. The Holy Grail to build an empire in our age is nuclear technology. Even if a nation does not use the bomb, it serves as an incredible deterrent. Other states would think twice about acting against Iranian military expansion. The world energy market would become unstable. Saudi Arabia and Egypt would go nuclear in a matter of time, mixing an unstable region with apocalyptic weapons.
Is it possible that Iran’s more liberal youth will reform the society before it builds the bomb? Hopefully, and perhaps the bad actors who head the Iranian government are actually serious about restraining their nuclear capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief. I wouldn’t hold my breath though. I’ll judge the Iranian leadership on their words and actions, both of which have been anti-American for decades.
There is no easy way out, which is why it is hard for anyone to fully oppose this deal rather than just pointing out its potential dangers.
Our three options amount to more sanctions, the deal or war.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants more sanctions, and is prepared for war if that must be a last resort. While President Obama has been called the new Chamberlain, others have made the comparison that Netanyahu is the Winston Churchill of our time, warning about the dangers of appeasing a dangerous state. Time will only tell, but to be sure we get the best deal possible, Congress must approve any final agreement and reduction in sanctions. The skepticism of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, will hopefully serve as a deterrent to a bad deal.
Nicholas Pappas is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]