appeasement

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Appeasement is a policy of accepting the imposed conditions of an aggressor in lieu of armed resistance, usually at the sacrifice of principles. Usually it means giving into demands of an aggressor in order to avoid war. Since World War II, the term has gained a negative connotation in the British government, in politics and in general, of weakness, cowardice and self-deception. A famous example is Neville Chamberlain's foreign policy during the inter-war period 1919-1939 when he used a policy of appeasement in order to prevent (in vain) another general European war.

Different views on Appeasement

The meaning of the term "appeasement" has changed throughout the years. According to Paul Kennedy in his Strategy and Diplomacy, 1983, appeasement is "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, thereby avoiding the resort to an armed conflict which would be, expensive, bloody and possibly dangerous." It gained its negative reputation for its use in the build up to World War II. It had previously been employed by the British government successfully, see The Treaty with Ireland 1921.

Further quotations:

"At bottom, the old appeasement was a mood of hope, Victorian in its optimism, Burkean in its belief that societies evolved from bad to good and that progress could only be for the better. The new appeasement was a mood of fear, Hobbesian in its insistence upon swallowing the bad in order to preserve some remnant of the good, pessimistic in its belief that Nazism was there to stay and, however horrible it might be, should be accepted as a way of life with which Britain ought to deal." Martin Gilbert, The Roots of Appeasement, 1968.

"Each course brought its share of disadvantages: there was only a choice of evils. The crisis in the British global position by this time was such that it was, in the last resort, insoluble, in the sense that there was no good or proper solution." Paul Kennedy, Strategy and Diplomacy, 1983.

"The word in its normal meaning connotes the Pacific settlement of disputes; in the meaning usually applied to the period of Chamberlain's premiership, it has come to indicate something sinister, the granting from fear or cowardice of unwarranted concessions in order to buy temporary peace at someone else's expense." D.N. DIlks, Appeasement Revisited, Journal of Contemporary History, 1972.

The majority of the Conservative party in Britain in the late thirties were in favour of appeasement. This was mainly because they considered that Hitler would be satisfied with gaining control of parts of Central Europe. Churchill was relatively isolated in believing that Germany could be a threat for the British Empire.

However, appeasement has also been deemed successful by many historians, as with the 'bought' year of 1938-39, Britain rapidly increased military production and with the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia allowed the protection of the British Isles. It must, however, also be pointed out, that in turn, Nazi Germany was able to significantly boost its military power in the time thus granted, and quite possibly to a greater extent than the Allies, particularly since the annexation of Czechoslovakia gave the third Reich access to well-developed Czech industrial resources and significantly improved its strategic standing, avoiding a conflict through the unfavorable terrain of the Czech-German border (even where this was unfortified) in comparison to Poland, which also suffered afterwards from a lengthened border with Germany.

As said by Winston Churchill[1]:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.

References

1. ^ Churchill Quote. Retrieved on April 07, 2007.

Bibliography

  • Alex Alexandroff and Richard Rosecrance, "Deterrence in 1939," World Politics 29 (1977)
  • Robert J. Beck, "Munich's Lessons Reconsidered," International Security 14 (1989) in JSTOR
  • John Charmley, Chamberlain and the Lost Peace (1989)
  • Richard Cockett, Twilight of Truth: Chamberlain, Appeasement, and the Manipulation of the Press (1989).
  • Christopher Hill, Cabinet Decisions on Foreign Policy: The British Experience, October 1938-June 1941 (1991)
  • James Levy. Appeasement and Rearmament: Britain, 1936-1939, (2006)
  • Frank McDonough, Richard Brown, and David Smith. Hitler, Chamberlain and Appeasement (2002)
  • Peter Neville. Hitler and Appeasement: The British Attempt to Prevent the Second World War (2005)
  • Gaines Post Jr.; Dilemmas of Appeasement: British Deterrence and Defense, 1934-1937 Cornell University Press. 1993
  • G. C. Peden, "A Matter of Timing: The Economic Background to British Foreign Policy, 1937-1939," History 69 (1984)
  • Stephen R. Rock. Appeasement in International Politics (2000)
  • Donald Cameron Watt, How War Came: The Immediate Origins of the Second World War, 1938-1939 (1989).
  • Robert Paul Shay, Jr., "British Rearmament in the Thirties: Politics and Profits" Princeton University Press" (1977).

See also

  • Appeasement of Hitler - one of the most significant and best-known cases of appeasement in history during the inter-war period of the 1930s
  • Danegeld - The term has come to be used as a warning and a criticism of paying any coercive payment whether in money or kind.
  • Finlandization - the influence that one neighboring powerful country can have on the policies of a smaller nearby country

External links

Further reading

  • British Politics and Foreign Policy in the Age Of Appeasement, 1935-1939 - R.J.Q. Adams
  • British Foreign and Imperial Affairs, 1919-39 - Alan Farmer (2nd Ed.)
  • British Foreign Policy 1919-39 - Paul W Doerr
  • British Appeasement in the 1930s - William R Rock
  • Churchill - Roy Jenkins
  • Baldwin - Roy Jenkins
  • Anthony Eden: A Life and Reputation - David Dutton
  • Eden - D. R. Thorpe
  • Europe and the Czechs - Penguin Books Shiela Grant Duff, September 1938
  • Neville Chamberlain - David Dutton
  • The Fascist Challenge And The Policy Of Appeasement edited by Wolfgang J. Mommsen and Lothar Kettenacker, London : G. Allen & Unwin, 1983 ISBN 0-04-940068-1.
  • The Parting of Ways - A Personal Account of the Thirties. Peter Owen, 1982, ISBN 0-7206-0586-5
  • Munich : Prologue to Tragedy - Sir John Wheeler-Bennett, New York : Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1948.
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