"The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid 'dens of crime' that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices."
--C. S. Lewis
Now it's come out that John Kerry and the administration's other foreign policy masterminds have been withholding details of Washington's coming deal with Teheran from our "ally" Israel. There are some things, they figure, it is better the Israelis not know.
Why, sure. Why tell the sacrificial lamb what awaits it? Any more than a wise old statesman like Neville Chamberlain let the Czechs know just what was happening behind closed doors when he met Herr Hitler in Munich to assure Peace in Our Time, which in that case lasted maybe a year -- from September of 1938 to September of 1939.
The hapless Czechs were represented at Munich, too, but kept in the dark till the deal was done. It might only have upset them if they'd gotten wind of what was going on. They were told they'd been sold out only after the sale was made, signed, sealed and delivered. And then told to accept their fate and go home. They did -- to what was left of their little country, its borders now rendered indefensible by the concessions granted the German fuehrer.
Neville Chamberlain went home, too, to be greeted by a hero's welcome when he landed at the old Heston Aerodrome.
Hail the conquering hero! ("The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine....") The rest was almost lost in the applause and cheers. War had been averted! (For a while, anyway.)
But surely Neville Chamberlain's grand welcome home will pale compared to the state occasion when John Kerry, Barack Obama and naive company unveil what has been an open secret for years: Washington is determined to make a deal that will let Teheran's mullahs proceed with their plans to develop a nuclear weapon all their own. And at such a low price, too. Just the Israelis' security. Of course that'll be only the down payment; our own security and that of our remaining allies in the Middle East will be jeopardized only later, maybe a whole year later if the Munich precedent holds.
But for now the champagne has been chilled, the Beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea awaits, and the photograph of Secretary Kerry and Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lifting their glasses should prove as memorable -- and ironic -- as the one of Molotov and von Ribbentrop toasting the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, that necessary precursor of the Second World War that began a week later.
Yes, the cheers and applause will ring out when John Kerry and crew come home bearing the good news that, soon enough, will be revealed as bad news.
But will the Israelis, like the Czechs before them, accept their betrayal and wait passively for their end? Will they go gently into that good night? That doesn't sound much like them, but we'll see. Or at least read about another "mysterious" explosion at Iran's nuclear works.
The great thing -- well, one of the great things -- about this administration's historically amnesiac foreign policy is the air of discovery and invention that it brings to every sell-out of still another country struggling to stay free, whether Ukraine or Israel or the next to be sacrificed. As if it had invented appeasement.
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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.