Lesson of Munich

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Munich Agreement

In international relations, the Lesson of Munich asserts that adversaries will interpret restraint as indicating a lack of capability or political will or both. The name refers to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany in negotiations toward the eventual Munich Agreement. Steven Chan describes the moral as "appeasement discredits the defenders' willingness to fight, and encourages the aggressor to escalate his demands."

When Czechoslovakia was seized by the Soviet Union in 1948, most Western Europe countries formed NATO to prevent the Soviet Union from using the salami technique and conquer any more countries, one by one. Memories of Munich greatly decreased the willingness of Western Europe to make any concession to the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

Munich also played a role in British Prime Minister Anthony Eden's forceful confrontation with Nasser in the Suez Crisis of 1956.

During the Cold War, Neville Chamberlain's agreement at Munich again resurfaced, with prominent anti-communists arguing that the United States could not duplicate his perceived mistakes by "appeasing" the Soviet Union.[1]

In Israel since the 1980s, the term "Lessons of Munich" is being used by hawkish politicians as an argument that any territorial concessions to the Palestinians will pose a threat to Israel's security. This type of argument was used extensively by Benjamin Netanyahu in his book, A Place among Nations (1993).


  • Robert J. Beck. "Munich's Lessons Reconsidered". International Security, Vol. 14, No. 2. (Autumn, 1989), pp. 161–191.
  • Steven Chan. International Relations in Perspective. New York: Macmillan, 1984.
  • J. L. Richardson. "New Perspectives on Appeasement: Some Implications for International Relations". World Politics, Vol. 40, No. 3. (Apr., 1988), pp. 289–316. Especially pp. 290–292.
  • Joseph Stalin