Monday, September 30, 2013

Seriously misguided praise for Neville Chamberlain's Munich 1938 deal

Here's another piece on the ever-popular Hitler/Appeasement/Czechoslovakia issue: Nick Baumann, Neville Chamberlain Was Right Slate 09/28/2013.

I have a couple of problems with it. Even though he does mention several facts that usually don't come up. Because all we usually hear is, "Munich! Appeasement! Testosterone!"

  • About the only decent sentence in it is, "But every war is not World War II, and every dictator is not Hitler."
  • He doesn't even seem to realize that in the 1930s the word "appeasement" was just a synonym for "compromise" and didn't have any particular stigma attached to it.
  • The name "Skoda" doesn't appear, the Czech city with massive arms works that was a key goal of Germany in taking Czechoslovakia and made a qualitative difference in their armaments capabilities. (George McGovern flew strategic bombing missions over Skoda in the Second World War.)
  • He doesn't mention the mismatch between the British-French foreign policy strategy and their military capabilities when he's talking about armaments levels.

Oh, and there's there's this. He gets in a sentence about one key thing: "Soviet Russia was seen as a potential enemy to be feared, not a potential ally." Is he even aware that the USSR was offering to go to war on the side of Britain and France over Czechoslovakia? That would have had its problems, too. But it would have put Russia fighting on the British-French side in 1938 instead of 1941. Instead, the Munich deal left Moscow with a coldly pragmatic and accurate calculation that it was in their immediate interest to make a deal with Germany, i.e., the "Hitler-Stalin Pact," or, more formally, the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact. Which was a huge reason why "Munich" was such a bad deal!

And this guy writes for Mother Jones!? Yikes!!

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