The reason it is so depressing to read Alone, the middle volume of William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill, is not because the British government was so obtuse in failing to listen to Churchill's constant warnings about the rising menace of Adolf Hitler.
Why should that be depressing? After all, when Hitler finally got the war he had wanted for so long, Churchill was elevated at last to be prime minister of Britain, and in that position he saved Britain and, by the way, the world.
So this is the prelude to a tale of triumph. It is sad to see all the wasted opportunities, and to think of all the millions of deaths that could have been prevented if Churchill's warnings had only been heeded.
If Britain's pacifistic government had not deliberately concealed evidence that supported Churchill's view and not their own.
If Britain's press had not deliberately suppressed accurate stories from reporters in the field that made it clear exactly what Nazi government would and did mean in Austria, Czechoslovakia and in Germany itself.
Yet sad as these errors are, one can understand them, to a degree. The British public had not forgotten the horrors of trench warfare, the millions of lives lost in pointless charges against machine guns.
(They had never been told that it was Winston Churchill himself who had struggled and nearly succeeded in preventing most of that wastage. Unfairly, he had been given the opposite reputation.)
Also, Hitler encouraged the pacifists by his constant use of the Big Lie. Even though he never kept a promise, he did keep making them. "This is the last territorial demand Germany will ever make," he said over and over, and each time the pacifists were eager to believe him.
No, the reason I find myself consumed with sadness as I listen to Alone, 1932-1940 is that on point after point, foolish mistake after foolish mistake, criminal neglect after criminal neglect, I see that we are exactly echoing the errors of that time.
Bill Clinton was our Stanley Baldwin, a genial pol whose wetted finger was always up to test the winds of public sentiment.
But Barack Obama is our Neville Chamberlain, a committed True Believer in the mad notion that our enemies want peace as much as we do, and only hate us because of our mistakes.
We face enemies remarkably like Adolf Hitler. The leaders of Islamist fanatic groups and governments, from Iran to Hamas and Hezbollah, from the Taliban to the Muslim Brotherhood, from al Qaeda to the Syrian regime, resemble him in these ways:
1. They hate Jews. Call their victims "Zionists" in order to pretend, but it is Jews they kill whenever and wherever they can.
And, just as in Hitler's day, the intellectuals of Europe and far too many in America, rather agree with them that Jews er, no, Zionists ah, that is, Neo-Conservatives are evil, cannot be trusted, and deserve to be destroyed.
Thus when Iran threatens to use its nukes against Israel, there are many who are unconcerned because as long as Jews are the only intended victims, they don't really mind all that much.
So much for learning and remembering the lessons of the Holocaust. Nukes are quicker and cheaper than gas chambers. And if a few millions Muslims die along with the Jews... Inshallah. It is the will of God. They are martyrs.
2. Just like Hitler, they always cast themselves as the victims. Hitler pretended only to be trying to protect people of German nationality wherever they lived.
Now Islamists claim to be victims everywhere. Let someone speak ill of their religion, their scripture or their founder, and they believe that this justifies them in any kind of thuggery, murder, assassination, riot and terrorism.
3. They are thugs. Like Hitler's Brown Shirts and SS, who terrorized Germans first in order to bring Hitler to power and keep him there, Islamist thugs work first to terrorize other Muslims and keep them from speaking out against their rule. Thus a tiny minority comes to dominate the millions of Muslims, not just in Muslim-majority countries, but around the world.
No other world religion claims the right to be able to enforce their laws on unbelievers, to impose the death sentence on anyone of any faith who offends their dogmas, and to kill any member of their own faith who is insufficiently faithful or who attempts to leave Islam.
Quick, are there any Muslims reading this who are not afraid to speak up against any of these Islamist groups or governments? Yes, raise your hands! But ... not very high. I don't want your blood on my conscience.
4. They aim at nothing less than complete world domination. They have said so just as clearly as Hitler did in Mein Kampf, and they continue to say it.
5. Like Hitler, these Islamists are contemptuous of Westerners who think negotiations mean anything. When they think they're losing, they negotiate but then they keep none of the promises they make. Not one. Not ever.
6. Like Hitler, they cheerfully exploit the Westerners who support their cause, but feel nothing but contempt for them. The only people they respect are the ones who stand against them firmly.
7. Like Hitler, they have a whole list of kinds of people who need to be suppressed, oppressed or destroyed. The Islamist list includes:
Women, who must be made powerless and invisible, utterly uneducated and unfree.
Jews, who must be killed or expelled.
In Egypt, the Coptic Christians are being murdered in "spontaneous" (i.e., well-planned) pogroms, while the authorities stand by to arrest the surviving Christians. This despite the fact that Christians have been in Egypt far longer than any Muslims, since Egypt was a completely Christianized land for centuries before Islam was founded.
In Iran, followers of Baha'i and other minority faiths are jailed or murdered, forbidden to practice their faith.
In Afghanistan, when the Taliban ruled, followers of any religion but Islam were persecuted, their holy sites obliterated or defaced.
Anyone who believes in democracy, or any law but the fanatical Islamist version of Sharia, or any education but the study of their scripture in Arabic, is liable to be imprisoned, exiled, or impoverished if they aren't killed outright.
8. Like Hitler, they are arming themselves and preparing for total war. Iran aims for nukes and means to use them. Pakistan has nukes, but dares not use them because India has better ones.
But the Islamists' real total war is not about nukes. Iran's nukes are just as much about dominating the other Muslim nations in their vicinity; though they are sincere about using them against Israel, once they have done so, will Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Emirates, Iraq or any other Muslim nation resist their leadership?
Their war against the West is to bring us down, and Osama bin Laden showed them how. Attacks on public trust will eventually break down our economy, force governments to bow to Muslim "sensibilities."
Because just as the Islamists use Hitler to teach them how to destroy us, it is as if our "intellectual" elite our tenured professoriate, our monolithic news establishment and Hollywood were also following a script.
The script given them by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the politicians and newspaper editors who co-starred with him in a play they did not have to write down, because they acted it out for us on the world stage:
How to Bring on a World War by "Appeasing" Those Who Do Not Want Peace.
Do you doubt me? Our mediacrats and professoriate bent over backward after 9/11 to make sure not to sound patriotic, not to label Islamists as our enemies.
They are eager to blame terrorist acts on anyone but Islamists.
When a homegrown terrorist blows up a government building or assassinates a government official, they blame conservative American talk radio shows on no evidence whatsoever.
But the assassination of an American ambassador in Libya and the storming of our embassy in Egypt (a supposed ally) are blamed on a stupid movie. Our government does not defend our principles of freedom of speech; instead, our government apologizes for offending Muslim sensibilities.
I'm still waiting for the apology from these same people for their specious accusations against conservative talk radio. But no, they would still very much like to ban conservative talk radio.
In fact, Barack Obama didn't defend American values because he doesn't value them. He has already expressed his envy of the Chinese government's ability to make decisions without consulting their people. He has already promised to give Putin a free hand, once he gets reelected.
He joins the professoriate and the mediocracy in their contempt for dissenting views, punishing anyone who says things he doesn't like. He began his term by evading the Constitution by replacing his cabinet with "czars" who do not have to be confirmed by the Senate, where Republicans might question their shoddy credentials.
In this, too, Obama, the professoriate, and the mediacrats resemble Neville Chamberlain, the pacifist politicians, and the newspaper owners and editors during the run-up to World War II, when they constantly papered over or simply lied about Hitler's actions and the danger he posed.
They keep believing, as Chamberlain's companions kept believing, that negotiations only fail because we haven't yet given enough, even though we have already given more than was safe or even decent.
Even now just as Chamberlain bullied Czechoslovakia's leaders in 1938 into giving up their defensible borders and then kept no promises to protect them as their nation was erased and their people enslaved or murdered so also Obama snubs the leader of Israel, our only reliable ally in the entire Middle East, so that they won't defend themselves.
Here is what happens when you pursue the Neville Chamberlain course that Barack Obama is so carefully, systematically pursuing:
1. Negotiations lead to nothing. The enemy keeps no promises and can't believe you keep believing them.
2. Yet as long as we keep giving them what they want, or postponing taking any action as long as they hold out the promise of negotiations, they are happy to accept the extra time in which to build up their ability to attack and destroy us.
3. Obama inherited two battle zones in the war against radical Islamism: Iraq and Afghanistan. He has declared both wars over and is withdrawing our troops.
This is the equivalent of France and Britain allowing Hitler's Nazis to occupy the demilitarized Rhineland and then to force anschluss with Austria. The people of Afghanistan hated the Taliban and rejoiced when their murderous, repressive regime fell.
4. Just as they hated Saddam, and far more than they hated Mubarak, anyone who has lived under Islamist rule hates the Islamists and longs for their destruction.
But Barack Obama has shown them (like Carter, Reagan and Clinton before him) that there will be no effective resistance to the extension of Islamist rule.
Briefly, two presidents named Bush stood against Muslim aggressors, and a remarkable thing happened: The Muslims who don't want to be ruled by these mad dictators fell in behind American leadership and bet their lives and their futures on our victory.
And we won. Even if the occupation did not go brilliantly at first, we won, and the result was a general backing down of support for Islamists all over the Middle East.
But with Barack Obama's decision to lose these wars, despite the fact that we won them, and continued to prevail whenever and wherever adequate support was given, our friends and allies in the Middle East have no choice but to make whatever accommodation they can with whoever looks like the eventual winner.
Hint: As long as Barack Obama or any other member of the professoriate or mediocracy is president, the US is not going to look like the eventual winner.
When Barack Obama snubs Netanyahu of Israel, he no doubt imagines he is building friendship with Muslims.
But he is not. He is earning the contempt of the Islamists whose war against the West he thus encourages, and he is showing those who would be our friends that American friendship means nothing.
After all, look how Obama treats Israel, our staunchest ally! If that's how America treats its friends, it's time to join up with America's enemies.
There are still many millions of Americans who approve of Obama's decision to lose the war, just as many millions of Britons rejoiced when Chamberlain came home from Munich with a worthless treaty and promised "peace for our time."
These are the Americans who think that because Osama bin Laden is dead, we already won the only war we ever meant to fight.
But we don't get to decide when the war is over they do. And President Obama's actions have proven again and again that Osama bin Laden was absolutely right in his assessment of America.
We will not keep fighting. We win and then we quit; but the Islamists go on. All you have to do, Bin Laden taught, was keep on attacking, and eventually the Islamists will bring down the whole Western civilization.
Then the Islamists can replace it with their own ugly, hate-filled, oppressive, racist, misogynist, fanatic, murderous "law." Of course it will quickly become corrupt and the leaders will not be true to the faith we do have the history of centuries of fanatical Muslim governments to show us that.
But it will be no help to the people who groan under the heel of the Islamist conquerors.
Here's where we come to the crux of the matter. The professoriate and mediocracy think it's absurd for me to talk about these terrorists actually bringing down Western Civilization.
Well, in a way it would almost be redundant the only people who hate Western Civilization more than the Islamists are the professoriate and mediocracy here and in Europe, and they already do all they can to destroy all the values that made Western Civilization the envy of the world.
And never mind that their pat-on-the-head devotion to the "oppressed" Muslims will not protect them as with Hitler, wherever Islamists take over the first people they kill or imprison are, unsurprisingly, the professoriate and the mediacrats.
When Churchill first started warning about the danger of Hitler's rearming of Germany, his pacifist opponents ridiculed him. What threat could Germany possibly pose? Its economy was in ruins, it had no army.
In fact, Germany had been oppressed by the unfair, impossible Versailles Treaty. It was only right for them to reassert their pride. Cut them some slack!
And look how strong we are! We can never fall! (The fond belief of all great nations, just before they fall.)
They kept insisting that Germany posed no threat, right up to the day when they suddenly switched and said, We dare not do anything to offend Hitler, because we're not strong enough to fight his huge air force, army, U-boat fleet.
Aren't we already there? Aren't people all over the world terrified of saying or doing anything to offend the Islamists, knowing that they assassinate anyone who gives offense?
Haven't we already lost this war?
No, we haven't. We stand where Britain and France stood in 1939, having already decided to lose, having already allowed their enemy to get weapons he shouldn't have had and to rule in nations where they did not have to let him win.
Obama has already allowed Egypt to be turned over to Islamists, while doing nothing to help democratic forces liberate themselves from the oppressive, terrorist-sponsoring Syrian government that supports Hamas, Hezbollah and the soon-to-be-nuclear Iranian ayatollahs.
Obama is already handing Afghanistan back to the Taliban, while Iraq is now in the shadow of Iranian power.
Obama has done nothing to prevent Iranian nuclear weaponry and is trying to prevent Israel from doing our job for us, soon their fanatical government will dominate and intimidate and effectively rule all of our friends in the Persian Gulf and beyond.
Because of this, our cause looks as hopeless as did Britain's and France's, when German tanks rolled across the Polish border. Having already allowed all their friends and allies to be destroyed or neutralized, they had no friends left.
Hitler's natural enemy, the Soviet Union, seeing that Britain and France were worthless allies, made his own accommodation with Hitler. Other nations openly allied with him.
Their cause was lost.
But the British people found their spine at last before Neville Chamberlain did (because he never did), they found their courage. And at last they turned to the most brilliant leader available Winston Churchill and finally gave him the power to lead them.
It was almost too late.
Here's the problem. Mitt Romney is not Winston Churchill.
But he's also not Neville Chamberlain and Barack Obama is.
Had the Brits replaced Neville Chamberlain years earlier, with someone who was merely prudent, they wouldn't have needed Winston Churchill.
After all, neither President Bush was a genius like Winston Churchill. But they did defend Western Civilization against its enemies; and when they did, we found friends and allies where we needed them.
All Mitt Romney needs is good sense, prudence, a spine. He showed he had one when he openly criticized the Obama administration's insanely apologetic response to the attacks on our embassies.
Nobody in America wants a war. That's why Romney isn't campaigning on the issues I've raised here. He's campaigning on the economy, on getting rid of the crippling new entitlements that Obama has established so that we don't go bankrupt.
Romney is campaigning on the promise that the 47 percent who pay no taxes might, if they want to, improve their incomes until they do pay taxes; or if they are legitimately unable to work, he will help grow the economy and reform the government so that the safety net is still there for them.
Only by keeping a strong, free economy can the 47 percent continue to have the benefits of government without paying income taxes to sustain it. So it's in the self-interest of all Americans, for economic reasons alone, to support Romney.
But if the economy were the only issue, we could probably survive four more years of Obama; economic recovery from his ideological mistakes would be harder and more expensive, but it could still be done.
However, Obama's ideological decision to lose the war is one that cannot be undone four years from now.
Friends and allies that have been obliterated or have fallen under Islamist rule cannot then be regained without bloody battles.
When fanatical Islamists rule in every Muslim-majority country, we will have the open war against all of world Islam that the presidents Bush so carefully kept us out of. It will be Barack Obama who gave us that world war (as Neville Chamberlain gave us a needless world war) instead of the limited wars of the Georges.
When Iranian nukes can be launched against cities in Europe, while Iran's leaders don't care whether we retaliate against their own population, what allies will we be able to gather to our cause then?
Make no mistake: We can pretend this election is about the economy, but the primary responsibility of the president of the United States is the safety of the United States, and Barack Obama has proven to us, without any doubt, that he is incompetent.
Our dead Libyan ambassador is a witness to that. His government's apology to the assassins, his failure to defend our values, his refusal to support our allies these are also witnesses.
The reelection of Barack Obama is the most terrible thing that could happen to us, because he is Neville Chamberlain, and like Chamberlain, he is exposing us and all our friends to the most evil, ambitious, insane force loose in the world right now.
And anyone who laughs at my dire warning is saying nothing about me. They are only proclaiming their own pathetic ignorance of history.
All great nations fall eventually. And with rare exceptions, great nations fall when they have decided to stop protecting themselves; when they have lost faith in themselves.
The man who sneers at Americans who turn to "guns and religion" and the professoriate and mediacrats who are ashamed of "patriotism" and the values of Western Civilization are not fit to lead the nation which, like it or not, constitutes our civilization's entire defense against enemies who relentlessly war against us and, if we do not stop them, will bring it down.
We can't decide to simply end this war with fanatical Islamism because our enemies have not stopped and will not stop until one side wins.
We can still decide to unlose this war.
Death and His Brother Sleep is a poem by Punch editor Edwin James Milliken, who died in 1897. Winston Churchill quoted the poem during the lead-up to World War II: