International Relations – Appeasement
International Relations (1919-1939) traces the development of international relations through the major historical periods in world history, with special emphasis on economic and diplomatic history. The main coverage here follows International Political History of World War I and pre-war historical diplomacy of World War II. The post-World War II period sees significant developments in the area of International Relations, including a new era of global politics, new international economic institutions, and dramatic changes in human rights. This book traces these developments and describes the evolution of international law, particularly the development of the United Nations system.
World War II
The period after World War II saw a U.S. withdrawal from Europe and the dissolution of the Czech Republic. The defeat of the Prague Spring (coup d’etat) by the moderate liberal parties (Prapservatives) and left-wing forces (led by Charles Spencer) prompted the USA to re-evaluate its relationship with the Czars and the Czechs. The Brzezinski Plan was drawn up by American diplomats at the time to assess the strength and weaknesses of the Czech military and assess potential threats to American interests in the region. It outlined the three U.S. goals for the new Czech Republic: To prevent the spread of communism; prevent the repetition of anti-American policies (e.g., appeasement, accommodation, trade relations); prevent the growth of Soviet military capabilities to the point of replacing them; and to prevent the risk of European escalation. These goals were not realized because the Czechs reciprocated in kind by invading Poland (prising to the utter disaster of the Polish Army).
The Brzezinski Plan
The Brzezinski Plan was never implemented due to the French refusal to accept it. Instead the USA turned its back on the region and sought to contain the spread of communism through deeds of appeasement. For example, the Hungarian leader welcomed the occupation of Hungarian Jews by the German occupying forces and Western Europeans supported the Hungary’s policy of appeasement. When the Prague Spring rose, they joined the European community in condemning it.
This is referred to as appeasement in the context of world affairs by the powerful nations that failed to stand up to the Germans. For instance, the British foreign secretary Sir Edward Burnes said “I think that it is a mark of the wise man when he can say to his country that the policy of the British government in regard to the occupation of Iraq would be to leave the door open to appeals for appeasement.” Chamberlain, the foreign secretary of Chamberlain, who supported the British position, later said “If we go into a war, the support will be taken away from us, but I am convinced that if we give a friendly reception to the representatives of the Occupier, they will not attack us.”
It was clear that the Czechs, being a backward country in terms of industrial development and raw materials, did not have the financial or technological resources to defeat the German army. So appeasement worked to their favor. The British, who had been supplying arms to the ragged and inexperienced German army, also provided financial and material support to the new government in Czech. The British Prime Minister Ramsay Macpherson said “A war with Germany will not only be brief and draw a very small number of our men into that theatre but it will also bring us into contact with the other side which may prove to be as dangerous as the contest between us and Germany.” The French president, Bonaparte, in his secret plan to invade France, included appeasement as a condition of peace. Thus appeasement triumphed over nationalistic sentiment in all the European countries participating in the war.
International relations scholars argue that appeasement led to two major consequences. First, it allowed some international agencies, like the League of Nations and the United Nations, to manipulate major political developments in the world, particularly in the developing world. Second, because appeasement permitted greater freedom for aggression, the League of Nations and the United States were less constrained in their use of force against major nations that refused to succumb to the League’s or the US’s dictate. These nations, such as Germany, refused to sign the Versailles treaty and remained in violation of the Treaties of Armistice until the end of WWI. Appeasement, therefore, served to give more power to those at the expense of those against whom they had recourse.
League of Nations and the League of Europe
During the 1920s, the League of Nations and the League of Europe attempted to restrict appeasement by placing stipulations on international relations negotiations. In the 1930s, the League of Nations had even more success in containing and repressing the aspirations of nationalistic movements within its realm. By the end of the 1930s, however, appeasement had largely given way to greater accommodation toward the repositioning of the nation’s interests. Thereafter, appeasement became the norm and followed that form of consensus in international relations debate.
- The consequences of appeasement, then, can be seen today in the new cold war between Russia and the Western World.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Karaganov stated, “No one has the right to treat us like Germans.”
He went on to threaten the Western World with nuclear annihilation stating that; “either we will win the battle, or you will lose it.” Appeasement, therefore, has served to keep power in the hands of the powerful nations who have historically been at the forefront of world affairs. The rest of the world, unable to stop appeasement, is now stuck in a never ending circle of appeasement.
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