World War II vs. War on Terrorby Rit Nosotro
Compare the impact of appeasement on WWII and the War on Terror.
What was the most astonishing thing about WWII? Was it the huge number of deaths or the vast area of the world in which fighting occurred? Was it the fact that the aggressor nations were ignored for so long, and appeased in every way possible? Indeed, in hindsight it is shocking that so many nations fell before war was declared. Hitler was given Czechoslovakia on a silver platter. He rebuilt the German army and navy and created an air force. He annexed Austria. He occupied the demilitarized Rhineland. All of this was allowed in an exchange of land for peace.1 Perhaps there are some explanations for this, but it is still mind-boggling that people could be so consumed with a desire for peace at all costs that they would willingly condemn others to death and terror just to postpone the inevitable conflict. But then again that is what much of the modern world is doing. In this way WWII is comparable with the modern War on Terror.
In the years leading up to September 11 the world as a whole treated terrorism as a criminal activity. Accordingly governments would respond to terrorist attacks, but did very little to prevent them from occurring. After September 11th the nations of the world became divided on how to treat terrorism. George W. Bush believes that the way to prevent terrorists from attacking America is to attack them wherever they are found. Others have an attitude reminiscent of WWII. “Don’t rock the boat.” “If we give them what they are asking for they’ll be happy and leave us alone.” Many think that fighting the terrorists has enflamed them. This is likely true, but not fighting them would be worse. They would be taught that they can do whatever they want and the world will never stop them.
Hitler and Mussolini learned that lesson well. Hitler admitted that the most nervous moments of his life were when he openly defied the rest of the world and entered the demilitarized Rhineland. When he was unopposed, it became proof that Hitler could do what he wanted. Mussolini also came to this conclusion when the worst the League of Nations did to him, after his invasion of Ethiopia, was to place ineffective trade embargoes upon him.2
The worst example of appeasement demonstrated by the western nations leading up to WWII was to give the Sudeten, northern Czechoslovakia, to Hitler despite agreements to protect her from aggression. Hitler had convinced the leaders of the west that the German people needed breathing space, and if they were united with the “mistreated” Sudeten Germans they would be happy and there could be peace. This was to be their last request. The result was the Munich Pact which brought “peace in our time.”
Today the nation which is being demanded as the “last request” is Israel. Many Islamic militants claim that they are fighting to regain Palestine for the Palestinians. The world must be very careful. Is peace worth any cost? Will there be peace in our time? Remember Hitler and how he acted after his last request. He took the part of Czechoslovakia given to him, and then he took the rest of it as well. Finally he took all of Europe, before being stopped.
Be warned. Terrorists and Islamic militants don’t just want a Palestinian state. They don’t just want Israel destroyed. They don’t just want America destroyed. They want to control the entire world under Islamic Sharia Law.
Perhaps if the Allies had acted preemptively and decisively, WWII would have been shorter without the potential side effect of ongoing insurgencies. Although there is no way to know how preemptive action would have turned out in that situation, it was proven that appeasement failed. Having this lesson from history, several of the former allies are now taking preemptive action against terrorism. Thank God the Taliban are out of office.
Still, others continue to push the failed appeasement of “land for peace”. France, with its growing Muslim population, makes demands of Israel as if it had forgotten the importance of its own Alsace and Lorraine. Just give the region to Germany and everything will be ok. Right? Perhaps the UN should force India to give the Punjab to the Islamic terrorists of Pakistan. If only the Sudanese Christians would stop defending themselves against the government supported Islamic attackers there could be peace. And while we are appeasing, let us reward the Islamic Chechen rebels a sovereign state for slaughtering hundreds of elementary school children.
The 20th century’s biggest war is our example of the dismal failure of appeasement. America was once part of an "alliance of the unwilling" as Churchill pleaded for assistance. The mistake is not being made again.
1. Today’s attitude of the "alliance of the unwilling" toward
terrorism compares to the attitude toward Hitler in what way?
a) Condemn terrorism like the nations condemned Hitler.
b) Appease terrorism like the nations appeased Hitler.
c) Appease terrorism like the nations condemned Hitler.
2. What nation was the “last request” of the German people, and
which country is now the rallying point for many Islamic terrorists?
a) Austria and Iraq
b) Poland and Chechnya
c) Czechoslovakia and Israel
3. Which statement is true?
a) The French lack of resistance when Hitler invaded the Rhineland proved the emptiness of world condemnation.
b) The Munich pact brought peace.
c) The terrorists want to destroy more than just Israel.
4. What lesson can the modern world learn from the causes of WWII?
a) Terrorist eventually achieve their goals
b) Give a bully what he wants and he will leave you alone.
c) Appeasement is a failure.
d) The school for suicide bombers has a frequent staff turnover.
1Alexis Cheney, “An Appeasement History,” 1997. <http://www.omnibusol.com/wcessay6.html> (access date)
2Mathew Young, “Appeasement’s Cause: A Passion for Peace or an Obsession with Indifference?” December 1997, <http://www.omnibusol.com/wcessay5.html> (access date)
1(b) 2(c) 3(b) 4(c)
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