Appeasement: “the making of concessions to an aggressor in order to avoid war.”
The most celebrated case of appeasement in modern history was the Chamberlain/Deladrier compact with Adolph Hitler.
British PM Neville Chamberlain went with French leader Eduard Deladrier to meet with Adolph Hitler in Munich. At that meeting, Hitler assured the British and French leaders that war could be avoided if they would sign off on Germany’s annexation of Czechoslovakia.
Undeterred by the fact that Czechoslovakia was an independent state that wasn’t theirs to give, they agreed to trade Czechoslovakia’s freedom for their own.
Returning from Munich, waving a worthless piece of paper bearing Hitler’s signature, Neville Chamberlain breathlessly pronounced; “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time… Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”
One year later, Britain’s nice quiet sleep was interrupted by the sound of Nazi jackboots marching into Poland…
The WWII troika of appeasers, Britain, France and Germany, have proved George Bernard Shaw’s observation that, ‘the one thing man learns from history is that man learns nothing from history.
I have a friend in a 12-step program who is forever repeating one-liners he hears at meetings. One always stuck with me: “the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again, thinking this time, they will turn out differently. A variation I’ve heard since is comparing it to renting a movie over and over again, hoping this time it will have a happy ending.
Both sound about as nuts as the idea that, this time, appeasing a fascist dictator with a fanatical obsession for war will work better today that it did in 1938.
There is little doubt that the leaders of the so-called EU Three are as aware of the historical uselessness of appeasing a dictator as was Winston Churchill, who likened appeasement to ‘feeding a crocodile in the hope he will eat you last.’
The US State Department has signed on to the Appeasement Brigade, offering Iran a series of incentives to drop their quest for nuclear power. This, despite the fact that Iranian officials have gleefully observed that they are indebted to the Europeans and their supporters for “buying time” for the regime in Tehran, allowing it to bring its so-called “nuclear power” program to fruition.
Appeasement has a long tradition among US liberals, but when it infects conservatives (as it has), the prognosis could be fatal.
Jimmy Carter’s diplomatic efforts including negotiating a peace deal between Egypt and Israel in 1977. To do so, he met all of Egypt’s demands, including forcing Israel to give back all the territory it captured from Egypt except the Gaza Strip.
Carter used the ‘carrot and stick’ method. To get Israel to give back the Sinai, Carter linked it to continued US foreign aid to Israel. To get Egypt to sign the peace treaty, he made Egypt the second largest recipient of US foreign aid in the world, after Israel. Israel got nothing it didn’t already have but an essentially meaningless piece of paper. The Carter deal created a new foreign policy term, that of ‘cold’ peace’ to describe the subsequent state of Israeli-Egyptian relations. It was, and remains, a sham.
The Clinton administration launched the ‘land for peace’ initiative between Israel and the Palestinians with the signing of the 1993 Oslo Agreement. The ‘land for peace’ initiative was a textbook example of appeasement in action.
To appease the Palestinian uprising, Clinton convinced Israel to accept Yasser Arafat as a ‘peace partner’. As with Egypt, Israel got nothing it didn’t already have, Arafat got whatever he wanted. By 1998, the Clinton administration had brokered a deal whereby Israel would give up virtually all of the 1967 territory in exchange for peace with a Palestinian state.
For most of its first term, the Bush administration resisted calls from the Left to appease the various threats facing the United States. The Left rushed to appease Saddam Hussein, the French, the Germans and the UN. They resisted any effort to deal with the threats, calling instead for more diplomacy, more appeasement, more negotiations.
It didn’t avoid war anymore than Chamberlain’s Munich Pact did. It only stalled it for awhile to allow Hitler to get stronger. In Iraq’s case, the delay gave Saddam time to recruit, equip and train his feyadeen insurgency movement. And instead of the war ending in April, 2003, it was only just beginning.
The ‘carrot and stick’ offer being made to Iran will go down in history (if there is anyone left to write it) as one of the most egregious appeasement efforts in modern history. The ‘carrot’ is nuclear power for a regime dedicated to a nuclear weapon. The ‘stick’ is no nuclear power for a regime that already has it.
Winston Churchill was one of the most eminently quotable politicians in modern history. His comment about the crocodile is timeless. So was his admonition to the British Parliament in opposition to the parliamentary appeasers 70 years ago.
“You must look at the facts… for the facts are looking at you.”