Thursday, January 5, 2017

Appeasement Has Never Worked and It Never Will: Addendum

"You may gain temporary appeasement by a policy of concession to violence, but you do not gain lasting peace that way." - Anthony Eden

"However much we may sympathize with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbor, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in a war simply on her account." - Neville Chamberlain

The Definition

The definition of appeasement has not remained the same since the policy was first put into practice. What has happened, interestingly enough, is that the definition has actually come full circle. Many historians now support the viewpoint that politicians like Neville Chamberlain held at the time that appeasement was being tested in Europe.  As Hitler was gaining power in Germany, the British, the French, and the Russians knew that he would soon be a certain threat to their interests, but they wished to avoid war. So, they followed the policy of appeasement, a policy defined by Paul M. Kennedy as, “the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, thereby avoiding the resort to an armed conflict which would be expensive, bloody, and possibly dangerous.” He outlines this definition in his book, Strategy and Diplomacy, 1870-1945: Eight Studies, published in 1983. This means that the author was trying to understand the unique circumstances that faced the men of that day. In other words, he was working hard to justify their actions, even though, he found it difficult to do so effectively.

Immediately after the war, however, people were not that sympathetic. The prime example of this attitude towards appeasement policy can be seen in Winston Churchill’s The Second World War: The Gathering Storm. In this volume of his history of World War II, Churchill did not take a favorable attitude towards appeasement; in fact, he went as far as referring to the Munich Conference as, very simply, a tragedy. For a while, after World War II, this was the accepted viewpoint.  In 1962, however, the definition of appeasement began to revert to the definition that it held when it was first being put into practice. This definition was much more understanding towards the men, like Neville Chamberlain, that practiced the policy. It was A.J.P. Taylor in his book, The Origins of the Second World War, published in 1962, who initiated this transition. His view was quasi supported by Kennedy as can be seen in the earlier quote from that author, as well as, Martin Gilbert in his book The Roots of Appeasement, published in 1966, who argued that Neville Chamberlain pursued the policy of appeasement because he honestly believed that cooperating with Germany could maintain the peace, benefiting all, despite the fact that Hitler routinely professed violent action, allowing his subordinates to use fear tactics on their own people. Essentially, it was well known that Hitler would allow his people to do whatever they could manage to get way with if it meant securing their position in a given political moment.

The definition did not remain in this changed formed, however. In an article in the University of Leeds Review, “Appeasement Revisited," published in 1972, David Dilks discussed the definition and pointed out that immediately after World War II, “appeasement came to indicate something sinister, the granting from fear or cowardice of unwarranted concessions in order to buy temporary peace at someone else’s expense.” He argued that this was the proper measurement of appeasement. As a policy, appeasement was and is a complete failure, it always has been, and it always will be. Giving into the demands of a fascist dictator who rests on the edge of the lunatic fringe will never solve whatever problems face the powers that are resisting him. The only way to deal with such a person is to stand one's ground, force him to abide by any international agreements to he which is bound, and punish him if he fails to comply, whether this requires the use of economic and political sanctions, or even, war.

Europe's failure to stop Hitler when he began building up the German war machine, despite their sympathies, left over from the overly harsh nature of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, created the needed building blocks for the explosion that was World War II. Bruce S. Thornton discusses this shift back to the criticism of appeasement's worth in his book, The Wages of Appeasement: Athens, Munich, and Obama's America, published in 2011. Unfortunately, the leaders of Europe gave into Hitler for so long that they produced a conflict that was far worse than the damage created by World War I, ending the lives of nearly fifty-one million people. The purpose of this piece is to show a few more instances where appeasement has either not worked, or is still not working, despite efforts to make it so.


The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the middle twentieth century. The conflict is wide ranging, and the term is sometimes also used in reference to the earlier sectarian conflict in Mandatory Palestine, between the Jewish yishuv and the Arab population under British rule. It has been referred to as the world's "most intractable conflict," with the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, since passing sixty years. This is about as bland a definition of this conflict that can be given. Thank Monty G. Marshall in his book, Major Episodes of Political Violence 1946-2012, for that. What such a bland definition does not tell is the story of how one sided the Israeli occupation of Palestine really was and still is. With the help of the United States and Great Britain; in 1948, Israeli forces occupied all of Palestine in a fairly rapid fashion. Ultimately, this is rather stale, as well. It does not tell of the hangings, murders, rapping, and wanton death dealt out by this new army of occupation.

There is one particular story that comes to mind in this period. A Palestinian family refused to leave their lands, which had been in their family for over five hundred years. Despite this, the new Israeli government had assigned the land to an Israeli family. The Palestinian family defended their land to death. The men were hung from their olive trees, while their women were raped and then killed next to their children. This says nothing of what happens to this very day. Gaza, the most well known Palestinian inhabited region, is treated like nothing more than a modern day reservation that the Israeli government routinely shrinkens any time that it needs lands to feed or house its expanding population. This, of course, comes at the expense of the people already living there, who get to watch their homes get destroyed or repurposed for another family. If the Palestinians on the that land resist, they are assaulted and the Israeli government finds a way to make them out to be radical terrorists.

The Israeli army has run tanks over Palestinian farms, bombed their homes, and destroys schools and hospitals; yet, somehow, the Palestinians are the ones made out to be the bad guys. Most western nations allow this to happen without any consequences because they profit highly from economic cooperatives with Israel. Israel also serves as an important military ally in the Middle East. So, in exchange for these services, most of the world ignores the genocide that is being committed against the Palestinian people. The Palestinians assault an Israeli base with two rockets, and in response, the Israelis destroy an entire Palestinian village with all civilians included. That is genocide and must be answered for, but as of now, Israel can do no wrong in the eyes of most Western powers. This is appeasement.

Corporations and the Environment

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on Good Friday, March 24, 1989. The Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker bound for Long Beach, California, struck Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef at 12:04 am, local time, and spilled eleven to thirty eight million gallons, depending on the source, of crude oil over the next few days. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human caused environmental disasters. The Valdez spill was the largest in US waters until the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in terms of volume released. However, Prince William Sound's remote location, accessible only by helicopter, plane, or boat, made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing plans for response. The region is a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals and seabirds. The oil, originally extracted at the Prudhoe Bay oil field, eventually covered one-thousand-three-hundred miles of coastline, and eleven thousand square miles of ocean.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, also referred to as the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, or the Macondo blowout, began on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect. Eleven people went missing and were never found, and it is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. Further, it is estimated, depending on the sources used, to have been eight to thirty-one percent larger in volume than the previously largest oil spill, Exxon Valdez oil spill. The US Government estimated the total discharge at four-million-nine-hundred-thousand barrels. After several failed efforts to contain the flow, the well was declared sealed on September 19, 2010. Reports in early 2012 indicated the well site was still leaking. The numbers and information on this spill, as always, depend, as noted, on the source of the information.

The Earth has large reserves of oil and gas trapped deep beneath its surface. Occasionally, these reserves develop cracks and some of the oil or gas seeps out. However, this is a part of nature and rarely causes any major environmental damage. On the other hand, there are times when the same problem is caused by of human interference. This is what can cause a great deal of damage to marine and land ecosystems. In the last thirty odd years, the issue of oil spills and their effects has taken on much importance. This is because when an oil spill occurs, it causes a multitude of problems for the environment. An oil spill happens when liquid petroleum is released into the environment by vehicles, vessels, or pipeline leaks. It usually happens on a large scale and is most often seen in large bodies of water, though it can happen on land. It happens due to human negligence and is a major form of pollution. The sources of the spills are many. Crude oil can be released by tankers and pipeline leaks on land. In water bodies, the spill occurs due to drilling rigs, offshore oil platforms, and wells. What is most common in all oil spills is that the damage they cause can be permanent and can take a long time, multiple years, to clean up. Most all of the time, lifeforms have to be reintroduced to the region, as they will not return on their own.

The real crappy thing about all of this is the fact that the worst that happens to the companies whose negligence created these disasters is that they are fined, their operations are temporarily halted, and they have to pay for the clean up process out of their own funds. None of this is as remotely severe as the damage that their negligence did to the environment. They are given such light sentences because there are many in the government that profit from their work. These companies should actually be permanently banned from the industry that they serve. The fact that they are not is appeasement because of the money they generate for the economy. Apparently that is more important than the water and the millions of life forms that call it home. Much harsher punishments are due for such negligence, but as long big oil has its hands in the government's pockets, this will never change. The root problem in such cases is money.

Police Shootings in the United States

Finally, there is no other nation in the world, to include some of the most war torn and socially unstable countries in the world, per capita, where more private citizens are shot by the police than there is in the United States. As of December 31, 2016, for that year, nearly eleven hundred people were killed by American police departments. The greater majority of the victims were African Americans, followed by Latin Americans, then Caucasians, and then others like Asians, Native Americans, Arabs, and the like. The thing that makes this worse is that the average punishment for officers involved in the shooting of civilians is temporary suspension with pay, and this continues until a ruling is made by, most commonly, an internal investigator employed by the department that the officer works for. Further, outside investigators only usually get involved in those cases that the department is unable to keep out of the press.

This is heinous, especially wen most of the officers are back on duty only weeks after the shootings. The federal government needs to get involved in every single case that comes up, but it does not. It claims that such behavior would overstep their jurisdictional boundaries. How can this be, when the federal government has jurisdiction over the entire country? The reality is that the federal government is appeasing these departments to maintain the peace with Police Officer Unions, who quickly go on strike if the federal government is found to be meddling in their cases. The result of their failure to act, of course, is more shootings of innocent civilians with police departments planting or removing evidence to protect themselves. For the federal government, leaving the investigations to local departments saves them the money that an investigation costs and negative publicity that a national case delivers. So, to save money, to prevent negative publicity, and to maintain public order, the federal government appeases the actions of its local police departments.


At some point, in every cycle of events, historically, one, a few, or an entire group of people, usually as result of uneven access to resources, becomes the new bully on the block. They use this advantage to get their way in whichever way they are able, with the end result usually being even more increased access to resources so that they can fortify their advantage for future generations. Further, during this cycle of events, the powers who are in opposition to this powerful entity, almost always find themselves on the brink of destruction. To keep this from happening, again, they almost always concede to the demands of the aggressive power until it is usually too late. Appeasement can take many forms, however. Like in Israel, the Israeli government is allowed to get away with the way that it treats the Palestinians because of its strategic position as an economic, political, and military ally in the Middle East. The same goes for the big oil companies who make billions of dollars a year harvesting raw material resources for governments around the world, as well as, the ignoring of criminal behavior in local police departments, in the name of securing public order. 

This will all eventually backfire, and in some cases, it has already already begun to do so. There are nations that are boycotting Israel because of the their treatment of the Palestinians. There are nations that are refusing to do business with companies with poor environmental hazard records, and the federal government in the United States is starting to get more involved in the investigative process of police departments that have known records for undue violence against civilians. It isn't over yet, though. These organizations are used to getting away with what they want because of the years of appeasement they have been awarded with. Something needs to be done a whole lot quicker, unless the United States just wants to earn a reputation for being that nation that allows people to get away with whatever they want, so long as they have money to buy their way out of trouble. Sadly, it is already beginning to build such a reputation. Hopefully, good people can help to reverse this trend.

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