Quote Of The Day

“The voices of appeasement are familiar to historians, for we have heard them loudly, especially within the twentieth century. Intellectuals have done more than their share to convince others that standing up to aggression is a practical and moral mistake. Be nice, thoughtful, and considerate, the argument goes, and the murderers, thugs, and bullies will respond in kind; war is about misunderstanding–and a failure to ban all guns. In this framework of reality, the Romans were responsible for their own downfall for failing to be reasonable and kindly toward the Huns. Four centuries of Muslim jihad preceded the crusades, but it was the crusaders who were to blame for poor relations with Islam. If we had been more considerate of Hitler, the argument often continues, he would have been reasonable and gentle toward us. No doubt FDR was the father of Japanese kamikaze attacks, for he had made the Japanese military even angrier by resisting their military actions. If only we had only placated Stalin; Truman was responsible for the Cold War because he stood up to the kindly leader, making the Soviet Union more aggressive. As I said in an earlier piece (“Appeasement 101”), the major failure here involves a misunderstanding of human nature. It is not a problem for most people; it is apparently a response in large part of those raised in permissive, affluent, and secular households who simply cannot understand the violence and rebellion that lurks in all our hearts. —Thomas C. Reeves, historian writing in the History News Network

41 Responses to “Quote Of The Day”

  • Would someone please name an actual, living, breathing historian (or any other sane human being) who has ever claimed that “standing up to agression is a moral and practical mistake”. Because I don’t think there is one.

    This is why when I hear Iraq War defenders use the word “appeasement”, I stop listening.

  • Good point LaurenceB. Atleast with regard to the Iraq war, there has always been an anti-war argument that I find very convincing: the fact that Iraq was not a direct aggresive threat to us, the way, say the Japanese in WWII were. For good or for bad, the United States went into Iraq based on assumption of threats, nothing concrete (reminds me of the saying, “you know what happens when you assume”). Of course you know, I was still for the Iraq war, but to say being against the Iraq war is being for appeasement is a bad argument, atleast with the Iraq war that argument doesn’t follow.

    When I posted this quote I was thinking more along the lines of Iran (and now North Korea) and what to do there( Foreign policy is my weak spot, I haven’t read much on it and find good arguments on both sides – well, except the loney sides of both sides).

  • HP-

    I agree 100% with your comment. If you are going to make assumptions, better be 100% certain you are right (I guess it is not an assumption then).

    Afgahanistan was a war worth fighting as this was already a threat. Unfortunately we fought it on the cheap and it is destabilizing.

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