Hitler's "Peace in Our Time, 1938", is a History Lesson for Today
Hitler's war mongering slowly evolved once he ruled Germany. Germany needed to build up its military might from 1932-1937 before Hitler's plans were to kick in. Germany used small regional wars, like the Spanish Civil War then, to develop new aircraft, test its tanks and combat tactics by siding with Franco on the Nationalists side, which did win the war. As all this slowly developed in Europe, Germany's neighbors grew increasingly nervous about Hitler's demands and refusal to cooperate. They hid their military buildup using ruses and camouflage or saying it was for civilian use. About three million Germans lived in Czechoslovakia, which was created after Germany lost WW1.
At this time, France and Britain were terrified of Hitler's saber rattling over what Hitler thought was part of old Germany (which it was)- Czechoslovakia. Neither France nor England wanted to fight Germany's growing strength alone or together. Hitler was more emboldened, he drew up plans to conquer the Czech territory using his army. As things steadily became more dangerous for Europe, those countries trying to talk and appease simply emboldened a man like Hitler, who saw it as weakness. Thus, Hitler deployed 750,000 troops along the border region stating it was just training and army maneuvers. This was not true, Hitler had planned to invade the Czech area by force and 2-3 years later, planned to invade France and then England.
The political solution when into a tizzy and high gear. England, France and Italy, conferred with each other drafting up an agreement that hopefully would satisfy Hitler- in other words, appease him, so he would not attack. This whole affair went from simmer to boiling over the Summer of 1938. It was always in the headlines and talked about in governments and those on the street. The German press was full of stories alleging Czechoslovak atrocities against Sudeten Germans, with the intention of forcing the Western Powers into putting pressure on the Czechoslovak to make concessions. Inside the Czech area, the German's basically rallied for Hitler because they felt discriminated against and saw Hitler as their saviour. In September, Hitler denounced Czechoslovakia as being a fraudulent state that was in violation of international law.
Eventually, through direct talks with Hitler, Britain and France demanded that Czechoslovakia cede to Germany all those territories where the German population represented over fifty percent of the Sudetenland's total population. The Czech government would receive guarantees that Czechoslovakia would remain free. That proposal was rejected. Hitler demanded the total take over of the Czech territory and was prepared to go to war. The Czech military was also ready for war and even had the support of Russia. Yet, the Czech government would not unless England and France would also. They would do everything to appease Hitler to avoid war.
Thus, the agreement was signed in Munich, Germany, without the Czech government. Hitler secretly was not happy, he had tried to include Poland in this agreement as well. Poland would be his in 1939, when his army invaded and conquered it. In 1940, Hitler defeated France and took it over. Hitler tried to defeat England in 1940 also, but failed, but only because of the English Channel obstacle.
The moral of this story for today is appeasement does not work with certain types of political entities. Hitler was one. Stalin another. Today, North Korea, Iran, and Syria come to mind. Today, Obama's appeasement about the Syrian use of chemical weapons may not work. While the threat of US attacks is present, Obama has been seen as someone unwilling to do it at nearly all costs.Russia's Putin, is playing Obama on his weakness. Russia has decided to send Iran the S-300VX missiles, its more advanced systems. Iran likes to talk about nuclear issues yet buys time and does not concede, all while it gets a nuclear bomb. Syria's Assad agrees in principle to give up weapons he claimed he never had and has scattered them all over. As the political process focuses solely on its chemical weapons, Assad continues to attack the rebel forces with non-chemical weapons. The US is afraid to enforce a no-fly zone, or allow Turkey to take action near their borders.
Once again, the Brits run scared of using its military might with the US. France is about the only other NATO country willing to use force. While Obama and other others know all about the appeasement of Hitler in 1938, they seem to be following the same script, thinking that political discussion will work. The removal of Syria's chemical weapons would take over a year to do in peacetime. Obama knows this, yet, his mantra is time of the essence. Time is stalling for those using it to delay. Is Obama willing to wait another month or two for this process?
Probably. He has already waited two years in avoiding at all costs the Syrian affair. History is repeating. One day, Iran will have the nuclear bomb and use it or threaten to use it. Syria will never disclose where all of its chemical weapons are or who has them or sign a pact stating that Russia cannot resupply them.
The players are different in 2013, but the outcome will be the same mistake made in 1938.