Certainly Chamberlain’s 1938 Munich Agreement handed over the Sudetenland in exchange for empty promises and paved the path towards World War II.
However, what would have happened if the Munich Agreement had resembled the currently proposed agreement with Iran?
Imagine if Germany had not be given control of any new territory, but only allowed normal trade with the rest of the world. Suppose further if Germany had agreed to:
- Destroy or sell abroad 97% of their tanks, armored transports and aircraft – just as Iran agrees to dispose of 97% of their enriched uranium.
- Destroy or sell abroad 60% of their guns including all of their machine guns and high caliber weapons – just as Iran agrees to dispose of 60% of their centrifuges leaving only the most primitive ones based on 1970s technology.
- Allow international observers to be stationed permanently at all military bases, weapon warehouses and weapon factories – just as Iran agrees to allow monitors of their nuclear program from the mines, to the processing, and the storage.
- Place tracking devices on all military officers – just as Iran agrees to have GPS tracking of their nuclear scientists.
- Allow international observers to be sent to any location based on any intelligence found – including information from these tracking devices – just as Iran agrees to do.
- Immediate and verifiable halt to the rocket program being researched by Werner von Braun and others – just as Iran agrees to halt their research into a possible plutonium weapon, now being undertaken at Arak heavy-water reactor.
If Germany had made all of these agreements, Europe would likely have remained at peace and perhaps there would never have been a World War II.
Such an agreement would not have been a panacea. Such an agreement would not have improved the prospects of life for the Jews in Germany itself no more than a nuclear deal with Iran is likely to turn that country into a Western-style democracy tolerant of all religions and sexual orientations.
Nevertheless the deal is a step forward, and I hope it is signed, ratified and implemented by both countries.