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I stumbled across the appeasement concept (a diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to an aggressive power in order to avoid conflict) and noticed that all examples are from a rather old past:

I am wondering if there are any recent events that can be tagged with this term.

Question: Are there any contemporary (1990+) examples of appeasement in diplomatic politics or is this a thing of the past?

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  • Comments deleted. Please don't use comments to debate the question matter. If you would like to answer, please post a real answer. Please try to limit these comments to suggesting improvements to the question. – JJJ Dec 5 '20 at 23:46
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Appeasement is a pretty political term, not a diplomatic term. Nations continually decide whether to ignore or escalate doings by other countries.

The main difference in the historic context of 1938 was that back then France and the United Kingdom eroded their own reputation and power base to keep the peace. There is also some indication that Nazi Germany misinterpreted the diplomatic situation when escalating for war against Poland based on that policy and that the UK and France sounded the same there as they did with Austria and Czech Slovakia aka the Nazis might have believed the Western Powers would just protest and leave it be again, partly because they thought they would be on board germany facing the Soviet Union.

In reverse there is good indication that the appeasement policy was a necessity because neither the UK nor France were capable or willing for a full on offensive war in 1939 which directly explains the "Phony War" and the non existence of a plan on how to intervene to save Poland by them at all.

I dare say the term does not really help to evaluate the circumstances of a situation, particularly since many situation might seem similar, but still develop entirely differently.

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I find this a rather odd question because if you read/watch the international news, it is obvious that appeasement is the rule and that actually confronting an aggressor by military means is the exception. Just out the top of my head:

  • Is the West doing anything about China locking millions of Uyghurs in camps?

  • Is the world doing anything about the genocide of Rohingya in Burma?

  • Have the United States and/or its allies helped Ukraine getting back control of Crimea?

  • Where was the world in 1994 when all hell broke loose in Rwanda?

Like I said, this is just a short list of examples where the policy essentially is/was appeasement, although it is easy to find more.

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    The key difference is between not doing anything (out of lack of interest or fear of consequences) and doing something to appease. In the case of Nazi Germany, European powers essentially forced Czechoslovakia to give away a part of its territory in a (misguided) hope to prevent a larger conflict. When Russia annexed Crimea, the Europe and US condemned the act and imposed some sanctions, but just didn't commit too heavily. Come to think, even Ukraine still maintained economical relations with Russia afterwards. – IMil Dec 4 '20 at 1:03
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    Appeasement is when you give something to an aggressor to avoid them attacking you. So unless you think China is prepared to attack a country that sanctions them over the Uyghurs genocide, I don't see how allowing it to continue counts as appeasement. – Barmar Dec 4 '20 at 14:44
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    @Barmar: well, China is also saber-rattling over the South China sea, Taiwan etc. Their will/ability to disregard external criticism spans both internal and external policies. Hong Kong is somewhere in between as it had its external (e.g. tariff) status affected by China's security law. And you're defining appeasement a bit too narrowly. The 1938 one didn't involve direct threats against the UK or France, IIRC. – Fizz Dec 4 '20 at 15:03
  • I think this answer is wrong. Maybe usage differs, but here in Europe, most people would know the term from history lessons in school (either appeasement as an anglicism, or a very similar term like apaisement), where it was applied to the pre-WWII-situation. And thus it would never be used literally, it would always be a derogative political term in reference to that situation. – Nobody Dec 5 '20 at 10:34
  • You could mention the world's most aggressive countries. – Keith McClary Dec 6 '20 at 3:30
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Arguably, the response of the West to Russia's annexation of Crimea has considerable parallels with the situation in 1938 (without the bad ending, we must hope).

As in 1938, deterring the aggressor would only have been possible at considerable risk to world peace.

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    Well, good thing we didn't put world peace at risk in 1938 by deterring the aggressor! – Russell Borogove Dec 4 '20 at 23:44
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The term appeasement policy typically refers specifically to the politics in the prelude to WW2 to appease the at the time aggressive powers that later would form the Axis. Therefore it is clear that examples refer that era.

Quote from the Wikipedia article:

"Appeasement policy, the policy of appeasing Hitler and Mussolini, operating jointly at that time, during 1937 and 1938 by continuous concessions granted in the hope of reaching a point of saturation when the dictators would be willing to accede to international collaboration. ... It came to an end when Hitler seized Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939, in defiance of his promises given at Munich, and Prime Minister Chamberlain, who had championed appeasement before, decided on a policy of resistance to further German aggression."

Therefore there is no other instance that actually fits. There are at best instances of other policies that also aim to appease rather than to confront. In that sense, any time a diplomat is sent instead of a soldier to achieve a nation's goal, that could be seen as appeasement - the very least when the other side made any kind of demand and your nation is open to discuss rather than outright rebuff.

In that sense, the cold war was full of appeasement. While in the policy sense it sure wasn't.

Today the term is mostly used either as a true reference to that eras policy or as a way to denounce a stance of some country that is deemed too defensive. It's a way to paint policy makers as cowardly and push-overs in rhetoric arguments.

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  • The term is most famously applied in that context, but the meaning of that word is not limited to that specific historical context. – ohwilleke Dec 6 '20 at 21:25

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