“In the heart of appeasement there’s the fear of rejection, and in acts of fear there are mirrors of oppression.”
As the world hurtles ever closer to war in Asia, there is an Alice-in-Wonderland media narrative that has North Korea as the aggressor that must be controlled and punished at all costs. And in the face of that narrative, the deafening silence of intellectuals is starting to bear a remarkable resemblance to appeasement.
In 1938 one of the most heinous war criminals of the 20th century was planning to occupy Czechoslovakia, a country where about three million people of German origin lived. War seemed imminent as Hitler continued to make inflammatory speeches. The British prime minister Neville Chamberlain offered to go to Hitler’s retreat and discuss the situation personally. Chamberlain’s placatory efforts produced the Munich Agreement that he, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Édouard Daladier signed, handing over a large chunk of Czechoslovakia to Germany. People in Czechoslovakia felt betrayed, but Chamberlain was praised. He told the British public he had achieved “peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time.” In later years the lesson drawn from the Munich Agreement was that expansionist totalitarian states must not be appeased.
Today it would seem the very same farce is being re-enacted in a contemporary version of appeasement that Chamberlain would have envied. History demands…