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Appeasement: Right or Wrong?

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  • David Floyd
    started a topic Appeasement: Right or Wrong?

    Appeasement: Right or Wrong?

    I hear a lot of people these days ridiculing those who oppose war with Iraq (and war in general) as "Chamberlain's" or "appeasers", with the implication being that the current situation is as bad as appeasing Hitler at Munich.

    I guess my question is, is and was appeasement actually wrong?

    I would say absolutely not.

    Although Germany had certainly violated the Versailles Treaty in several different ways, the Versailles Treaty was not actually fair to Germany. Germany was not the only one responsible for WW1, nor did they commit actions that were any worse than those committed by all the other participants (the worst being, in my opinion, conscription and shooting deserters, which all sides did).

    Sure, Germany had united with Austria, and seized the Sudetenland, and reoccupied the Rhineland, but these were not actions that were any of France's or Britain's business. You might argue from a hindsight perspective that the ultimate goal was to take down France (which might or might not be true), but that is hindsight talking. Chamberlain and the rest couldn't have known this - unless they were psychic, that is.

    So, in reality, the appeasement of Germany was nothing more than the major powers of Europe disengaging themselves in a matter that was really none of their business, and making every possible effort to maintain the peace.

    If, instead, had British and French troops had attacked Germany, they would have been just as much in the wrong as Germany (Germany in the wrong for occupying the Sudetenland and their internal policies, Britain and France being in the wrong for invading Germany). Using force in a manner other than outright self defense, in relations between nations, is never, ever justified, and it would not have been in this case, either.

  • Sandman
    replied
    Sandman, In WWI, Britain and France had Italy, Serbia, Russia and later the United States. At the beginning of WWII, Britain and France did not have Russia or the United States. As well, it looked like both Italy and Spain would join Germany.
    Germany didn't have Austria-Hungary or Turkey like in WW1. All they had were a gaggle of useless balkan states. Italy was not certain to join, and played no role in the defeat of France in any case. Spain was devasted by civil war, and could not be expected to defeat the French. There were also the British dominions, and Free Czech and Polish forces.

    Strictly from a WWI replay perspective, I don't understand how Britain and France could believe that the would win such a war without most of their major allies from WWI.
    It's quite simple, they had more manpower, resources and industry than Germany.

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  • Arrian
    replied
    So, if Britain had not declared war on Germany, Germany would have declared war on the USSR without Lend Lease, Allied bombing and no Western front. Maybe. I don't know.
    Yes. Hitler was dead-set on attacking the USSR. That was his real target all along. The western front was an unwanted distraction, however much he enjoyed rubbing France's nose in its defeat.

    Strictly from a WWI replay perspective, I don't understand how Britain and France could believe that the would win such a war without most of their major allies from WWI.
    Germany didn't begin seriously rearming until Hitler came to power, and was weaker than the combined forces of France and the UK right through to 1939. If they had gone in when Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland, there were standing orders for the German forces to retreat.

    When war did come, it was tactics that defeated the French and the BEF, not numbers or machines. As has been said before, the Allies had no reason to expect the collapse of France. ESPECIALLY from a WWI perspective (which was really their whole problem - they had a WWI perspective, whereas the Germans had moved on).

    -Arrian

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  • Ned
    replied
    Sandman, In WWI, Britain and France had Italy, Serbia, Russia and later the United States. At the beginning of WWII, Britain and France did not have Russia or the United States. As well, it looked like both Italy and Spain would join Germany.

    Strictly from a WWI replay perspective, I don't understand how Britain and France could believe that the would win such a war without most of their major allies from WWI.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sandman
    replied
    Sandman, Since Chamberlain in his infinite wisdom had concluded that negotiations would have been fruitless, I agree, they never should have been attempted.
    Chamberlain was not appeasing to save Britain, he was appeasing because he hated war. Despite your ongoing baseless assertion that it was 'obvious' that Germany would win, it was certainly not the case. No-one could have predicted France would fall so easily.

    As far as the Allies were concerned, it would be a re-run of the First World War, a conflict in which they would hold all the aces.

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  • Ned
    replied
    Originally posted by Arrian
    I know we didn't always back Israel the way we do now. But your comment that Israel is an exception because it survives w/o a security guarantee is contradicted by a) the massive amount of aid we give Israel and b) the large US military presence in the region, which few doubt would be brought to bear if Israel was really in danger of falling, and c) our decision not to take issue with Israel's nuclear weapons.

    I have no problem with our withdrawl from Vietnam, and I would not call it appeasement. I don't think it is relevent to our discussion.

    I see what you're getting at now: Britain decided to take a stand, and thus "caused" WWII. Continuing to appease Hitler in '39, however, would have been a mistake. Britain new it had to "throw down the gauntlet." Hitler was not going to stop gobbling up countries, and the UK & France finally figured that out. That the UK & France finally chose to oppose Hitlers' aggression does not make them responsible for the war. Hitler invaded Poland.

    Had the UK and France decided not to fight over Poland, then Hitler would have gotten exactly what he wanted: a free hand in Eastern Europe to create his "lebensraum" (sorry if I butchered the spelling). He could have invaded and fought the USSR without a western front. There would still have been a huge war, with millions of casualties, not to mention the distinct possibility of an even more complete "final solution."

    But if you want to believe that WWII was Britain's fault, go right ahead. I suppose the United States is actually to blame for the Pacific war, because we cut off Japan's steel? The attack on Pearl Harbor, after all, was simply a result of our failure to appease Japan, right? So obviously it was our fault.

    -Arrian
    So, if Britain had not declared war on Germany, Germany would have declared war on the USSR without Lend Lease, Allied bombing and no Western front. Maybe. I don't know. But certainly both Britain and France would have had time to build up their forces to deter a German invasion of the West.

    As to your second point, defensive alliances are supposed to deter war. In order to be effective, the attacker must know that he cannot win and will probably loose.

    Obviously, Britain simply was not strong enough to deter Germany. Taking a stand launched WWII.

    I believe Kennedy came to the same conclusion in his book, Why England Slept. Weakness invites attack. Weakness leads to war.

    I believe we, the United States, have learned this lesson. We today believe in an invincible military primarily to avoid war.

    Leave a comment:


  • Imran Siddiqui
    replied
    Again... arguing with David:



    And yes, David, might makes right and always has.

    Leave a comment:


  • DinoDoc
    replied
    I hope this thread is around tomorrow.

    Leave a comment:


  • Arrian
    replied
    I know we didn't always back Israel the way we do now. But your comment that Israel is an exception because it survives w/o a security guarantee is contradicted by a) the massive amount of aid we give Israel and b) the large US military presence in the region, which few doubt would be brought to bear if Israel was really in danger of falling, and c) our decision not to take issue with Israel's nuclear weapons.

    I have no problem with our withdrawl from Vietnam, and I would not call it appeasement. I don't think it is relevent to our discussion.

    I see what you're getting at now: Britain decided to take a stand, and thus "caused" WWII. Continuing to appease Hitler in '39, however, would have been a mistake. Britain new it had to "throw down the gauntlet." Hitler was not going to stop gobbling up countries, and the UK & France finally figured that out. That the UK & France finally chose to oppose Hitlers' aggression does not make them responsible for the war. Hitler invaded Poland.

    Had the UK and France decided not to fight over Poland, then Hitler would have gotten exactly what he wanted: a free hand in Eastern Europe to create his "lebensraum" (sorry if I butchered the spelling). He could have invaded and fought the USSR without a western front. There would still have been a huge war, with millions of casualties, not to mention the distinct possibility of an even more complete "final solution."

    But if you want to believe that WWII was Britain's fault, go right ahead. I suppose the United States is actually to blame for the Pacific war, because we cut off Japan's steel? The attack on Pearl Harbor, after all, was simply a result of our failure to appease Japan, right? So obviously it was our fault.

    -Arrian

    Leave a comment:


  • Ned
    replied
    Arrian, By Poland, Britain had thrown down the gauntlet. They had spent most of '39 setting up defensive alliances. Germany, in response, had nailed down a non aggression pact with the USSR.

    Germany now was totally prepared for war with Britain. But Germany did not want to declare war on Britain. That might have brought the US into the war in '39. Thus the invasion of Poland probably was intended to provoke Britain into a declaration of war.

    As to Israel, I agree that for some time we have supported Israel and guaranteed their existence. However, remember in '67, we cut off their arms shipments and pulled the 6th Fleet out of the Eastern Mediterranean just as the Soviets moved their fleet in next to Israel and were threatening to invade.

    The Vietnam analogy: We were protecting SV against communist aggression from the North. We could not win that war without risking a world war. Any invasion of the North would have provoked Chinese intervention. Any invasion of China would have provoked Russian intervention.

    Britain in the late '30s was protecting the democracies of EE against Nazi aggression. This guarantee ran the risk of triggering a world war - and it did trigger a world war.

    We withdrew from SV and let it go communist. We did not go down the path to a world war.

    Britain could have done the same in '39. It could have simply let Nazi Germany have its way in EE. But it did not "withdraw." It rather declared war on Germany, thus starting yet another world war.

    WWI started because Austria declared war on Yugoslavia, which had Russia as an ally. WWII started in the same manner. However, in SV, we did not declare war on North Vietnam and avoided WWIII.

    I suggest that our withdrawal from Vietnam was right and that both Germany and Britain share the blame for WWII.

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  • Arrian
    replied
    Why would he jeopardize his unblemished record by invading Czechoslovakia? An armed conflict would certianly inflaime world opinion aganst Germany. It could have potentially brought the USA and the USSR into the now hot war on the side of Britain.
    Like his armed conflict in Poland? Oh, wait, that wasn't the result... the USSR helped him and the USA continued to not give a damn.

    The fall of Czechoslovakia and the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq illustrates a simply truth. Countries can be created from defeated empires by drawing lines on the map, but they cannot normally continue to exist without security guarantees. Israel might be an exception to this rule as it has survived without US intervention in any of its conflicts.
    You're kidding, right? What do you call all of that aid money? Everyone in the Arab world knows that we will never allow Israel to be destroyed - if they were ever seriously in trouble, Uncle Sammy would ride to the rescue. That wasn't true in the beginning ('48), but it is now.

    Was appeasement right? Of course it was. It should have continued. Britain and France should simply have pulled out of EE affairs as the United States pulled out of Vietnam.
    *boggle* What?

    -Arrian

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  • Ned
    replied
    jimmy, we are looking at this from 20-20 hindsight. If Hitler really was going to invade, why did he pull off this elaborate sequence of events with the Czech PM?

    I think Hitler assumed all along that the Czech would cave because no one would be coming to their aid. Earlier in this thread it was said that Hilter's popularity in Germany was high because he was undoing the Versailles treaty without firing a shot. Why would he jeopardize his unblemished record by invading Czechoslovakia? An armed conflict would certianly inflaime world opinion aganst Germany. It could have potentially brought the USA and the USSR into the now hot war on the side of Britain. Hitler, I beleive, did not want this.

    In fact, Chamberlain said publicly that Britain had no obligation to protect Czechoslovakia. Perhaps.

    The fall of Czechoslovakia and the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq illustrates a simply truth. Countries can be created from defeated empires by drawing lines on the map, but they cannot normally continue to exist without security guarantees. Israel might be an exception to this rule as it has survived without US intervention in any of its conflicts.

    Those EE countries could not continue to exist independently in face of a re-armed, combined Germany/Austria. Their very creation guaranteed a future world war if England were to oppose German or even Soviet re-acquisition. But it did oppose German and WWII did occur.

    Was appeasement right? Of course it was. It should have continued. Britain and France should simply have pulled out of EE affairs as the United States pulled out of Vietnam.

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  • TheStinger
    replied
    Originally posted by Ned


    Arrian, As far as I can recall, Hitler invaded only one country before 9/2/39 and that was Poland on 9/1/39. The reason Hitler invaded is that the Poles refused to negotiate because of its pact with Britain and France.

    What happened after that was, of course, the kind of thing that happens in wars. Hitler invaded a lot of countries in an effort to win the war. However, he seems to have bit off more than he could chew when he attacked the USSR.

    Arrian, just to make my position clear, it is my position that Britain and France should not have been interfering in Eastern Europe because they had no legal obligation to do so and did not have the power to win the military confrontation they provoked. What they should have done if they wanted Poland and its other client states to remain independent is to call for a European conference that would include the USSR and the United States. If the USSR, the US and England and France had all been guarantors of the results of such a conference, I believe there would have been peace in Europe.
    As Stalin was as bad as hitler and the US didn't give a stuff about europe how would this have helped

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  • Capt Dizle
    replied
    Slovakia was coerced into declaring independence from the Czechs shortly before Hacha signed.

    I feel certain that Hitler would have invaded. He was convinced that Britain and France would do nothing. Of course he could have waited for Czechoslovakia to be more gracefully annexed but Hitler was on a timetable set by his fears of an early death.

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  • Ned
    replied
    Originally posted by chegitz guevara
    He invaded the Czechs. They just didn't fight back.
    From my understanding, Hitler invited the Czech PM to Berlin and made him wait outside his office until around 2 in the morning. He then called him in and demanded that he allow Germany to occupy the Czech portion of the country. He then dismissed him. Then Georing and Himler (?) informed the PM that the German army had orders to invade beginning at 6 in the morning. When the PM still did not cave, Georing said that the German air force would beginning bombin Prague at dawn. At hearing this, the PM fainted. He then signed away Czech independence before the Germans "invaded."

    The next day, I believe, Slovakia voted to join Germany.

    Whether Hitler would have actually carried out his threats to invade, we shall never know.

    Leave a comment:

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