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Appeasement - Republicans misuse the term so much it no longer means anything

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September 29th, 1938 - Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, England and France sign the Munich agreement. Hitler and Mussolini themselves along with Chamberlain and France's Daladier showed up to sign for their respective countries. The agreement ceded part of a non-participating country (Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland) to Hitler and Nazi Germany in exchange for Hitler's agreeing to halt further military conquests. The Munich agreement came on the heels of the annexation and incorporation of Austria into greater Nazi Germany via the Anschluss a few months earlier.

The context is thus that a power and land hungry dictator who had just annexed an entire country was given part of yet another country in the feeble hopes that he would be satisfied (appeased) with what was given to him and not take the rest of the continent or world. Through the appeasement of the 1938 Munich agreement, over 300,000 Czechoslovakian Jews came under the immediate dominion of Nazi Germany and soon found themselves transported to concentration camps.

Compare this with what Republicans today call appeasement. In January and February of 2003, suggesting that we give UN Weapons inspectors more time and more support to do their jobs verifying that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction was termed appeasement by Republicans. We see where that got us. Now, merely suggesting that we hold diplomatic talks with North Korea brings charges of appeasement. What's next? If one thinks about talking with China who is an ally of North Korea, we will be charged by Republicans with appeasing North Korea.

Republicans comparing the idea of sitting down and having a diplomatic discussion with Kim Jong Il with the Munich Agreement and its aftermath does a horrible disservice to many people and many efforts. First, it is a slap in the face to and trivializes the experience of Czech Jews, Gypsies and others and the family members of those sent who either endured terrible torture or died in Nazi concentration camps as a result of the Munich Agreement's appeasement. Second, it hampers the efforts of diplomats attempting to find honorable solutions to problems.

Sitting down and talking is not tantamount to capitulation. You can sit down and talk and take a hard line with someone or some country. The point is to talk instead of shoot, bomb and kill. When Reagan or George H. W. Bush talked with Gorbachev, were they appeasing him? If talking with a dictatorial leader or regime is tantamount to appeasement, maybe Republicans should insist we revoke any honors for these two ex-Presidents. Maybe then we will take their definition of appeasement seriously.

The truth is Republicans have misused the word to the point that it doesn't mean anything anymore. It is a word that is trotted out by members of the GOP whenever someone opposes their foreign policies. If anything, that is what appeasement now means. Republicans want to do something; you don't, so you are an appeaser. It no longer has anything to do with the other country/countries being discussed.
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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
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