Open letter to President Obama: Remember the lessons of the 1938 Munich Conference
By Gary G. Kohls, MD
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 21, 2009, 00:15

It seems to be a truism in the history of the world that fascists only respect those who are tough and never compromise. In that light, President Obama, it is good to remember what happened in September of 1938 when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Adolph Hitler in Munich when the Fuhrer was threatening to go to war to take over Czechoslovakia�s Sudentenland.

Chamberlain negotiated a peace agreement whereby Hitler was given the territory without British and French military opposition if the Fuhrer promised to leave the rest of Czechoslovakia alone. Chamberlain justified this �appeasement� convincingly to Parliament and the British people but mistakenly made a big deal about having achieved �peace in our time.� Of course, within seven months the pathological liar Hitler broke his promise and invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, taking over all of the Czech armament factories without a fight, greatly strengthening his war effort.

Ever since Chamberlain�s gamble for peace (which was partly made to stall for time so that the relatively unprepared-for-war Brits could start mobilizing) the so-called Munich Appeasement has been used as a lever to undermine most every peace effort that the US has considered since WWII. �If the British and French had been willing to go to war right then to defend the Czechs (despite the fact that neither were fully prepared or positioned for war), history would have had a different outcome.� US militarists persist -- ad nauseum -- in trotting out the Munich Appeasement Myth to teach us peacemakers and believers in negotiation why one should never compromise, or even talk to (a sign of weakness) our enemies.

Hitler was known to respect the British, but only because the British Empire was a ruthless and powerful nation that had always been quite willing to use military force against those who opposed it. (Of course, it must be acknowledged that Britain, just like most empires -- including the US -- always tried to avoid armed conflicts with militarily strong enemies, always seeming to choose weaker opponents to beat up on.) Thus, Britain also tried to keep its colonies and adversaries militarily weakened so nobody would dare to challenge them economically or militarily.

Hitler respected raw power and, therefore was probably smirking while signing the Munich Conference papers with Britain, knowing that he had just fooled another compromiser into capitulating to his demands.

So what are the lessons to be obtained from that historical lesson?

The irrational, loud-mouthed �Brown Shirted� types are minions of corporate America and probably don�t understand what they are doing as they shout down reasonable people. The not-so-hidden agenda of this powerful group of elites who don�t want you to do the right thing for the American majority is obvious to all observers.

So, President Obama, in your current battles for justice, peace and equitable health care, always remember the so-called �Munich doctrine against appeasement� and know that respect from your right-wing opponents will only be grudgingly granted to you if you don�t cave in to them. If you do compromise with them, they will know that you are weak and vulnerable and your enemies will grow stronger. They will also be laughing all the way to the bank if they see you on your knees, begging for understanding. Don�t give them that satisfaction. They cannot be appeased.

Be strong and so what is right for the people, exactly what you promised to do in your campaign.

And don�t forget, your rapidly dwindling progressive base respects strength also, especially when it is exerted for the right reasons.

And the future of America -- and your daughters� futures -- will be brighter if you do the right thing.

Dr. Kohls is a physician from Duluth, MN, who practiced holistic mental health care until his retirement in 2008. He is the editor of the Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter and writes regularly about issues of justice, peace, health care and politics. A number of videointerviews that describe his medical practice philosophy are available on His practice website is

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