Monday, July 13, 2009

The Attitudes of Appeasement Before WWII

Last night on the Military Channel, there was a documentary on about Franklin D Roosevelt and his secret efforts to help Britain prior to the U.S.'s official entry into World War II.


Many American citizens were opposed to U.S. involvement in the war. They saw Hitler as Europe's problem, and Europe should deal with him. There were many clips of people marching in the streets with signs and boards opposed to American involvement in the war. If anything, they wanted to strike a peace deal with Hitler's regime. A sort of guarantee, I suppose that he wouldn't come across the Atlantic, or attack U.S. ships in the Atlantic. Hitler also had a treaty with Poland. That didn't work out too well for the Poles.


Roosevelt tried back channels to assist the British, even going as far as to surplus naval warships, sell them to U.S. Steel so they could, in return, sell them to the British.


Even after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, there were still many people who were opposed to U.S. involvement in Europe, since Hitler didn't attack us. The appeasers didn't mind going to war against Japan, but wanted us to stay out of Europe. Ultimately, if it weren't for a German U-Boat sinking a U.S. destroyer, citizen apathy may have prevented Americans from entering the European theater.


Of course, there was a lot more to it than that. As it relates to today's politics and world view, it's interesting to see that the same rules still apply. While FDR wasn't exactly hawkish about going to war, he was able to see what would ultimately happen if Hitler wasn't stopped, not just appeased. This same philosophy seems to running rampant today. War is a brutal thing. I hate it. It should be used as a last resort. But I'm not afraid of building up America's defenses to ensure that we are not threatened. North Korea comes to mind immediately.


Now, the U.S. is in a position where we have a president who has reached out to Russia and wants to enter into a news arms treaty with them. This is a country who is so far behind us in technology, the only country that treaty would  help is Russia, since they don't have to spend money they don't have trying to develop new weapons. The only thing it does is put the U.S. at a disadvantage since it will hamstring the Defense Department.


The attitude of appeasement will always be there, but we must be careful how much we appease versus how much we prepare to defend ourselves and our allies.



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