Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Bitter Cup

We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude ... we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road ... we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: "Thou are weighed in the balance and found wanting." And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time. ~Winston Churchill in the House of Commons 1938

The Lesson of Munich

The lesson of Munich asserts that adversaries will interpret restraint as indicating a lack of capability or political will or both. 

"appeasement discredits the defenders' willingness to fight, and encourages the aggressor to escalate his demands." Steven Chan - International Relations in Perspective. New York: Macmillan, 1984.

Mourir pour Dantzig? (Why die for Danzig?) 

The policy of collective security ran in parallel with measures to achieve international disarmament and where possible was to be based on economic sanctions against an aggressor. It appeared to be ineffectual when confronted by the aggression of dictators, notably Japan's invasion of Manchuria, Italy's invasion of Abyssinia, Germany's occupation of the Rhineland.

Peace For Our Time

The parallels between Crimea and the Sudetenland are extreme.

"I am asking neither that Germany be allowed to oppress three and a half million Frenchmen, nor am I asking that three and a half million Englishmen be placed at our mercy. Rather I am simply demanding that the oppression of three and a half million Germans in Czechoslovakia cease and that the inalienable right to self-determination take its place." - Adolf Hitler's speech at the NSDAP Congress 1938 

"Unrest in the Ukraine poses a real threat to the lives and health of Russian citizens and the many compatriots who are currently on Ukrainian territory.  Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas," - Vladimir Putin, 1 March 2014

"I repeat: This is a matter of defending our citizens and our compatriots, of defending the most important human right -- the right to life," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov 


Appeasement in a political context is a diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to an enemy power in order to avoid conflict.

During the discussions leading up to the Munich Agreement, ceding the Sudetenland to Germany Neville Chamberlain wrote his sister:

"I asked Hitler about one in the morning while we were waiting for the draftsmen whether he would care to see me for another talk….I had a very friendly and pleasant talk."

While Hitler had a slightly different opinion:
"If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella, I'll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach in front of the photographers."

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. - Neville Chamberlain 1938

Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

So, what should we do about Crimea?

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