Lesson of Munich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In international relations, the Lesson of Munich refers to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler at the Munich Conference in September of 1938. In order to avoid war, France and Britain permitted the German annexation of the Sudetenland. The policy of appeasement underestimated Hitler’s ambitions and believed sufficient concessions would secure a lasting peace.[1] Today, it is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement toward Germany, and a huge diplomatic triumph for Hitler. The agreement facilitated the German takeover of Czechoslovakia, and caused Hitler to believe the Western allies would not risk war over Poland the following year.

The foreign policy of the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain has become inextricably linked with the events of the Munich Crisis and the policy of appeasement, resonating through the following decades as a parable of diplomatic failure. [2] Together with “Waterloo” and “Versailles”, the Munich Conference has come to signify a disastrous diplomatic outcome.[3] The Lessons of Munich have profoundly shaped Western foreign policy up to this day. In the United States, Presidents have cited these lessons in their decisions for war in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.[4] Following the strike on Libya, Ronald Reagan argued “Europeans who remember their history understand better than most that there is no security, no safety, in the appeasement of evil.”[5]

Although appeasement - conventionally defined as the act of satisfying grievances through concessions, with the aim of avoiding war - was once regarded as an effective and honourable strategy of foreign policy, following the Munich Conference it came to symbolize cowardice, failure, and weakness with Winston Churchill describing appeasement as “one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” [6]

References[edit]

  • Robert J. Beck. "Munich's Lessons Reconsidered". International Security, Vol. 14, No. 2. (Autumn, 1989), pp. 161–191.
  • Igor Lukes and Erik Goldstein, The Munich Crisis, 1938: Prelude to World War II (Oxon:Frank Cass, 1999)
  • Norrin M. Ripsman and Jack S. Levy, "Wishful Thinking or Buying Time? The Logic of British Appeasement in the 1930s," International Security 33/2 (Fall 2008): pp. 148-181.


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Norrin M. Ripsman and Jack S. Levy, "Wishful Thinking or Buying Time? The Logic of British Appeasement in the 1930s," International Security 33/2 (Fall 2008): 148.
  2. ^ Igor Lukes and Erik Goldstein, The Munich Crisis, 1938: Prelude to World War II (Oxon: Frank Cass, 1999), 276
  3. ^ Igor Lukes and Erik Goldstein, The Munich Crisis, 1938: Prelude to World War II (Oxon: Frank Cass, 1999), iv
  4. ^ Norrin M. Ripsman and Jack S. Levy, "Wishful Thinking or Buying Time? The Logic of British Appeasement in the 1930s," International Security 33/2 (Fall 2008): 148
  5. ^ Robert J. Beck, "Munich's Lessons Reconsidered," International Security 14/2 (Fall 1989): 161.
  6. ^ Norrin M. Ripsman and Jack S. Levy, "Wishful Thinking or Buying Time? The Logic of British Appeasement in the 1930s," International Security 33/2 (Fall 2008): 149