Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Appeasement has two definitions: One honorable and one dishonorable

"Appeasement has become a word of bad odor. In no case can there be any appeasement at the cost of honour. Real appeasement is to shed all fear and do what is right at any cost." - Mohandas Gandhi, 1945

"I do not believe that we can make progress in European appeasement if we allow the impression to gain currency abroad that we yield to constant pressure." - Anthony Eden, 21 February, 1938

The Obama Administration has shifted from a policy of sanctions on the Castro regime to one of yielding to constant pressure and undermining the rule of law which in concrete terms means losing national honor. Taking an American citizen and arbitrarily detaining him for five years while demanding the release of men who planned terrorist acts on U.S. soil and in the case of one was found guilty of conspiring in the murder four human beings is blackmail. Giving in to this dictatorship's demand is shameful. This is a description of what is popularly known as a policy of appeasement. This definition gained currency in the 1930s following the appeasement policy of the Chamberlain government to Hitler's Third Reich which was to "buy off (an aggressor) by concessions usually at the sacrifice of principles."

Winston Churchill in a speech in Harrow, England on October 29, 1941 provided an alternative: "Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense."

However, there is an older definition of appeasement that predates Chamberlain and is reflected in the quotes by Mohandas Gandhi and Anthony Eden at the top of the page. This older definition stretches back five centuries and means "to bring to peace, pacify, quiet, or settle."

Orwell's whose essay Politics and the English Language should be required reading to anyone writing in the English language also described in an appendix to his novel 1984 titled "The Principles of Newspeak" explained how words could become the opposite of their original meaning. This is apparently what took place with the word "appeasement."

The policy by the Chamberlain government towards Nazi Germany that led through giving into constant pressure and making immoral compromises laid the ground work for World War II is now known as appeasement. This culminated in the 1938 Munich Pact in which the British prime minister made a deal with Hitler in a series of meetings handing over territory of Czechoslovakia while giving the Czechs the option to accept the deal or face the Nazis on their own, ignoring previous security arrangements.

Winston Churchill reacted to Chamberlain's agreement with Hitler stating: "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war."

Yet, as originally defined, in terms of actually achieving peace and settlement, as Gandhi described it above real appeasement "is to shed all fear and do what is right at any cost." This is the opposite of what Chamberlain did in his negotiations with the Nazi leader.

Tragically, it is also the opposite of what the Obama Administration has done in its negotiations with the Castro dictatorship. When democrats morally compromise themselves with tyrants it begins a process where everything is on the table including morality and national honor. Castro regime's new demands are out of a very old playbook.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain shakes hands with Hitler

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