Monday, August 11, 2008


It's in our DNA: The great lesson to be learned from the Nazis, we all know, is that appeasement is the wrong course. I've just come across a June Newsweek essay that takes a close look at that lesson. A sample:

It may be true, as the saying goes, that leaders who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. But it's also true that leaders who carelessly or heedlessly use historical analogies, who twist or hype the lessons of the past, may be destined to make even bigger mistakes than their predecessors. In modern American history, no metaphor has been more used—or abused—than "Munich." The lesson of appeasement—that giving in to aggression just invites more aggression—has calcified into dogma. Neville Chamberlain's name has become code for a weak-kneed, caviling politician, just as Winston Churchill has become the beau ideal of indomitable leadership. American politicians have gone to extraordinary lengths to be seen as Churchill, not Chamberlain, with results that have not always been in America's best interests.

The rest of the essay is here.

It's important, as we consider what to do about Russia's invasion of Georgia, that we keep in mind that Russia is not Nazi Germany, and Putin, as despicable as he is, is not Hitler.

But expect a certain class of people to use the word "appeasement" quite liberally, anyway.

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