Appeasement Preluding WWII
The path to war and the failure of appeasement began with the conflict between Italy and Ethiopia. Although the invasion of Manchuria by Japan was an important event in the build up to war, the failure to act was more based on isolationism than appeasement. The first act of appeasement was the Hoare-Laval Pact which gave Abyssinia to Italy to quell Mussolini’s expansionist goals [Understanding, 25]. Though there was outcry over rewarding Mussolini’s aggressions, there was little support for war in Britain and France. Following the Abyssinia crisis was Hitler’s remilitarization of the Rhineland. A direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations should have invoked collective security and military action. However, no actions were taken by the League or any individual state [Taylor, 1965].
The Anschluss, annexation of Austria, was Germany’s next step in seeing how far it could push its boundaries without opposition. The Anschluss was met with support from both Germans and Austrians alike; and, unsurprisingly, France and the UK put forth only a minimal effort to prevent it. The United States put forth no effort either and continued its isolationist policy. Hitler was still not satisfied and continued German expansion into Czechoslovakia in the area known as the Sudetenland. Assuring that opposition by the UK or France meant war, Chamberlain gave in and signed the Munich Agreement with Hitler. Upon returning home, Chamberlain delivered his “peace for our time speech” and President Roosevelt said that he was satisfied with the outcome. Despite the concessions made, war broke out when Germany invaded Poland on the first of September, 1939.
Appeasement in the Aftermath ...
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...ly but the principle of appeasement was equally opposed. Ultimately, the system broke down and appeasement was universally discredited. Despite this, appeasement was picked up and rebranded by the same nations that opposed it after the second world war. It was, in their eyes, completely changed and bore no resemblance to the policies that led to the second world war. It’s said Mark Twain stated that “history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme.” The propping up of authoritarian regimes around the world and supporting states that violate human rights seems to rhyme with appeasement. President Roosevelt said about the Nicaraguan president Somoza “he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” Chamberlain certainly couldn’t have said the same about Hitler, and it’s doubtful that the western powers can say it about “their” dictators today.
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