What’s appeasement?

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Appeasement is a diplomatic strategy of pleasing an aggressor to avoid armed resistance. The failed 1939 Munich Agreement between British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler is a well-known example. Despite being viewed negatively since World War II, appeasement is still considered a possible solution to international conflicts, such as the ongoing war on terrorism.

Appeasement, a diplomatic strategy, consists of pleasing the aggressor to avoid armed resistance. In his 1983 book, Strategy and Diplomacy, political scholar Paul Kennedy argues that appeasement is achieved through rational concessions that are better than the bloodshed and violence that result from war.
This best-known example of appeasement is the failed 1939 agreement between British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler, known as the Munich Agreement. As part of the agreement, the Sudetenland, a portion of land within Czechoslovakia, was given to Germany. The British were motivated by a variety of reasons, the most important being the unlikelihood of winning a war against Germany. They had sufficient naval power, but neither strong land nor air resources.

Appeasement was also sound economic policy for Britain at the time. They simply could not easily rearm after the public debts incurred by World War I. Moreover, the massacre that took place during the First World War was still fresh in the hearts and minds of citizens, so they were in no hurry to enter a new violence.

The British public and the rest of the world, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, were delighted by Chamberlain’s success. Chamberlain’s speech on his return to England is known as The Peace of Our Time. Even the German military itself attempted appeasement with an attempt, albeit unsuccessful, to remove Hitler from power.

The League of Nations has strengthened the value of appeasement. A poll conducted at the time showed that many nations believed the world should try to stop an aggressive nation through methods such as trade sanctions. However, a substantial number disagree that the world should resort to war.

The Munich Agreement ultimately failed to dissuade Hitler, who also achieved an alliance with Stalin in 1939. His successes further emboldened him, especially as Nazism began to rapidly take root in Germany. Despite their aversion to war and a surprising lack of resources, Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, officially repealing the Munich Agreement, which had allowed Germany to conquer Czechoslovakia. Britain, the country that had repeatedly attempted appeasement, conducted one of the largest arms buildups of the time, costing £37 million.

According to many academics, England and France did not believe that appeasement was possible. Instead, placating Germany was simply a way to prolong the inevitable conflict. Whatever the motivation for attempting appeasement, the strategy failed completely.
Since World War II, appeasement has been viewed negatively despite being considered a possible solution to international conflicts, such as the ongoing war on terrorism. For example, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling political party in India, believes that the appeasement of terrorists was the cause of the train bombings that occurred in Mumbai on July 11, 2006. As George Orwell summarized in 1941, “ the idea that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply an escape from reality. Like I said, it’s only possible for people who have money and guns between them and reality.

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