Appeasement is a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to an aggressor. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it 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." Kennedy's definition has been widely cited by scholars. Appeasement was used by European democracies in the 1930s who wished to avoid war with the dictatorships of Germany and Italy, bearing in mind the horrors of World War I.
How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.
—Neville Chamberlain, September 27, 1938, 8 p.m. radio broadcast, on Czechoslovak refusal to accept Nazi demands to cede border areas to Germany.
The term is most often applied to the foreign policy of the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain towards Nazi Germany between 1937 and 1939. His policies of avoiding war with Germany have been the subject of intense debate for seventy years among academics, politicians and diplomats. The historians' assessments have ranged from condemnation for allowing Adolf Hitler's Germany to grow too strong, to the judgement that he had no alternative and acted in Britain's best interests. At the time, these concessions were widely seen as positive, and the Munich Pact among Germany, Britain, France and Italy prompted Chamberlain to announce that he had secured "peace for our time".
The word "appeasement" has been used as a synonym for weakness and even cowardice since the late 1930s, and it is still used in that sense to denounce policies and behaviors that conflict with firm, often armed, action to violent threats in international relations.
Famous quotes containing the word appeasement:
“I seem to smell the stench of appeasement in the air.”
—Margaret Thatcher (b. 1925)