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Appeasement: Definitions, Applications and Dangers

May 18, 2008 Unabridged (v 1.1)Cite This SourceShare This


Pronunciation[uhpeez] Pronunciation KeyIPA Pronunciation – verb (used with object), -peased, -peas·ing.

  1. to bring to a state of peace, quiet, ease, calm, or contentment; pacify; soothe: to appease an angry king.
  2. to satisfy, allay, or relieve; assuage: The fruit appeased his hunger.
  3. to yield or concede to the belligerent demands of (a nation, group, person, etc.) in a conciliatory effort, sometimes at the expense of justice or other principles.

    • ap·peas·a·ble, adjective
    • ap·peas·a·ble·ness, noun
    • ap·peas·a·bly, adverb
    • ap·pease·ment, noun
    • ap·peas·er, noun
    • ap·peas·ing·ly, adverb

1. calm, placate. 3. Appease, conciliate, propitiate imply trying to preserve or obtain peace.

To appease is to make anxious overtures and often undue concessions to satisfy the demands of someone with a greed for power, territory, etc.: Chamberlain tried to appease Hitler at Munich. To conciliate is to win an enemy or opponent over by displaying a willingness to be just and fair: When mutual grievances are recognized, conciliation is possible. To propitiate is to admit a fault, and, by trying to make amends, to allay hostile feeling: to propitiate an offended neighbor.

1. enrage. 2. increase, arouse, sharpen. 3. defy. Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006

Online Etymology DictionaryCite This SourceShare This

appease1330, from O.Fr. apeser “to pacify, appease,” from the phrase a paisier “bring to peace,” from a- “to” + pais, from L. pacem (nom. pax) “peace.” Appeasement (1439) first recorded 1919 in international political sense; not pejorative until failure of Chamberlain’s policy toward Germany in 1939 (Methods of appeasement was Chamberlain’s description of his policy).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

Arthur Neville Chamberlain (18 March 1869 – 9 November 1940) was a British Conservative politician and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1937 to 1940.

What Chamberlain did and said was a product of the end of “Gentleman’s Warfare”. This is his speech.

“We, the German Führer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe.
We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe.”

Chamberlain read the above statement in front of 10 Downing St. and said:

“My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour.
I believe it is peace for our time…
Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

Webster’s Revised Unabridged DictionaryCite This SourceShare This


Ap*pease”\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Appealed; p. pr. & vb. n. Appeasing.] To make quiet; to calm; to reduce to a state of peace; to still; to pacify; to dispel (anger or hatred); as, to appease the tumult of the ocean, or of the passions; to appease hunger or thirst.

To pacify; quiet; conciliate; propitiate; assuage; compose; calm; allay; hush; soothe; tranquilize, satisfy, assuage, attenuate, calm, soothe, ease, pacific, conciliatory, placatory, comforting

provoke aggravate, annoy, incite, irritate, provoke, tease antagonistic

The recent political references to the word APPEASEMENT has revealed an alarming tendency to parrot words without knowing what they mean. When George W. Bush and his explainers started referencing appeasement as a catch word to demean the democratic policy of negotiating and mediating, they demonstrate a VERY limited understanding of what they are saying. Citing the failure of appeasement as demonstrated in the 1930s, this administration has taken too much out of context and applied it as a relevant point. The context for which the WWII disaster should be referenced is described below …

Political Dictionary: appeasement

Today’s usage: A policy of acceding to hostile demands in order to gain peace. The term is today normally used in a pejorative sense by most politicians and communicators. Its alleged practitioners are usually held to be willing, in an ignoble or cowardly fashion, to sacrifice other people’s territories or rights in an attempt to buy off an aggressor or wrong-doer. Moreover ‘appeasement’ is supposed never to succeed for long: the aggressor always returns demanding further concessions. And the implication is usually that refusal to ‘appease’ would, by contrast, have a happy ending as in any morality play.

‘Appeasement’ has often been seen in these terms ever since the outbreak of the European war over Poland in 1939.

But the word had no such connotations when it first became fashionable during the 1920s and early 1930s. As late as 1936 British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, later widely thought of as an ‘anti-appeaser’, stated in the House of Commons that ‘it is the appeasement of Europe as a whole that we have continually before us’. A consensus had developed in most countries, and in Great Britain in particular, that the Peace Settlement of 1919, based on questionable assumptions about war guilt, had been too severe to the First World War’s defeated powers. Hence it was thought that the way to avoid a second such war was for the victors to try to meet the reasonably justified grievances of the losers. This meant working by negotiation to end reparations, to address German grievances with respect to permitted levels of armaments, to evacuate those parts of Germany that were occupied by the victors, and to meet claims for frontier adjustments in cases involving a denial of the principle of self-determination. At first, France, supported by some of her East European allies, was hesitant about accepting this approach. But gradually Great Britain, supported by most other countries, broke down French resistance.

The rise to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany 1933 did not at first make much difference to this pursuit of ‘appeasement’ by the victors of 1918. It was widely hoped that he would become more moderate as he gained experience in office and as Germany’s reasonable grievances were met. Thus Great Britain and France did nothing to prevent Hitler’s proclamation that ‘illegal’ German rearmament was taking place, his remilitarization of the Rhineland and the Anschluss (annexation) with Austria. Nor would public opinion in Great Britain or France, still less in the United States, have favoured war over these issues. A war against Mussolini’s Italy for attacking Abyssinia would have been more popular, but the British and French governments were too afraid of the growing strength of Germany and Japan to take any serious risk of joining in a conflict that did not directly affect their interests.

The public mood in Great Britain and France changed only in 1938-9—largely as a result of Hitler’s treatment of Czechoslovakia. Hitler seemed at first to have a reasonable case when he drew attention to the discontent of the German-speaking minority of Czechoslovak citizens living in the Sudetenland area that was contiguous to Germany. And British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was generally applauded when he masterminded the transfer of this territory to Germany at the Munich Conference held in September 1938. But Winston Churchill led a vociferous minority who claimed that Hitler had behaved in such a threatening manner that he had effectively humiliated Great Britain and France and that he was really aiming at European mastery if not world conquest.

In March 1939 Churchill appeared to have been vindicated when Germany invaded the remainder of Czechoslovakia without serious justification. It seems probable that Chamberlain’s initial inclination was nevertheless to continue with the policy of ‘appeasement’ as long as Hitler continued to move east. For he recognized that Great Britain had never seen Eastern Europe as an area of vital interest and he was aware that in any case the military balance of forces was not such as to make it easy to check Hitler in that region. And he had no desire to ally with the Soviet Union whose communist system he detested even more than fascism. But the majority in the British Cabinet, responding to public opinion, decided to abandon ‘appeasement’. Accordingly, a ‘security guarantee’ was given to Poland and this was honoured with an Anglo-French declaration of war in September 1939 when Germany invaded. The policy of ‘appeasement’ was thus discredited and has remained so among ordinary people ever since.

Some historians have attempted to launch ‘revisionist’ accounts that support Chamberlain’s broad approach. They point out that Great Britain and France were unable to defeat Germany in 1939-40—with the result that Poland was to be subjugated for half a century. As A. J. P. Taylor, an early ‘revisionist’, wrote: ‘Less than one hundred thousand Czechs died during the war. Six and a half million Poles were killed. Which was better—to be a betrayed Czech or a saved Pole?’

The alarming use of words and concepts without knowing what they mean has put this country in tragic jeopardy. Without understanding the definitions of words used, it is too easy to be misunderstood by those listening. Misconceptions can lead to wars. The education level of the United States of America has fallen to terrible lows. Reading and writing and speaking comprehension has fallen tragically. How can America compete with literate countries when all we really have is military power. Even America’s military recruit standards have been lowered … how can they read and understand instructions for dangerous marerials?

America’s present circumstances have deep roots in misdirected educational priorities since the 1960s. The mission for education is to prepare children to grow into competitive, productive adults. Part of the failures begin with not addressing the WHOLE child, in world context. Teaching a child they are exclusive and privileged with respect to the rest of the world, has created a dangerous illusion, focused on “bench marks” that politicians can use for rhetoric. Education out of context is not education, it is a computer with ONE program and few options. Child development is not a pre-arranged box to fit brains into. Without addressing the path of knowledge, there is no foundation for “critical thinking“. Few children have the skills or motivation to learn beyond the classroom experience. Why? Because ROTE learning is flawed. Social, personal and material context has become the priority for most learning, because the self contained United States is disconnected from world realities. The United States has built a market dependent society that cannot relate to the earth they stand on without shoes, clothes and electricity.

This hinders reasoning and understanding cause and effect of global reactions and environmental consequences.

Our country’s leaders and ambassadors make speeches and carry dialog are written by educated writers with political agendas. They are rehearsed and parrot policy without understanding. That’s not their job anymore, those decisions are made at the administration level and are not to be questioned …

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