Sherwin Pomerantz

Peace in our time redux

The following is the wording of a printed statement that Neville Chamberlain waved as he stepped off the plane on 30 September, 1938 after the Munich Conference had ended the day before:

“We, the German Führer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe.” 

“We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe.”

Chamberlain read the above statement in front of 10 Downing St. and said:

“My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time…Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

A year after Chamberlain waved the paper on which he had signed the Munich Agreement, ceding the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia in return for Hitler’s promises of peace, Germany had invaded Poland and Britain was at war.

By the end of 1945, seven years later, 48,231,700 military and civilian deaths were recorded as well as the deaths of 5,900,000 Jews and approximately 6 million others including gypsies, homosexuals, enemies of the state and the like exterminated by the German war machine.

In total, 60,000,000 people (2.5% of the world’s population) lost their lives. 

With the agreement with Iran announced last night, President Obama and his western allies showed similar naïveté, or perhaps hubris, about the war against international terrorism. Like Chamberlain, the president seems to believe in negotiation as an end in itself. He spent his first term seeking an elusive nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime, even permitting it to recover from a near-revolution in 2009, convinced that its assurances of peaceful intentions would be enough. He backed away from promises of missile defense to Poland and the Czech Republic–receiving nothing from Russia in return. And tellingly, in his second inaugural address he even used the term “peace in our time” to indicate his promise to the electorate.

A bad deal was signed in Geneva Saturday night. The west’s leaders can tell themselves that they have saved the world from an atomic fate at the hands of Iran but there are a lot of equally smart people who believe that, once again, the tyrants and enemies of peace have won. 

Cicero’s words in his oration against Verres ring in our ears even today when he said “O Tempores, O Mores,” shame on the times and its morals. 

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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