Neville Chamberlin -- Peace for our Time / by kevin murray

Most people don't pay a lot of attention to history and consequently they come to simplistic conclusions about complicated events which have multiple interpretations and controversies within them.  Neville Chamberlin, under trying circumstances, was able to negotiate and achieve from Hitler in September of 1938 an agreement in which in exchange for ceding the German portion of Czechoslovakia to Germany, known as the Sudetenland, that there would be no war and no further aggression from Germany in regards to this territory. 


The demands by Germany weren't in actuality that unreasonable, since that portion of Czechoslovakia was primarily German speaking, and the state of Czechoslovakia itself was created out of the ashes of World War I and the disintegration of the Austro Hungarian Empire, and the hope of the Munich Pact was that this annexation would appease Hitler and would prevent war.  History tells us that this didn't happen, but it did delay war for one year, or until September 1939, when Germany attacked and invaded Poland.  None of the above means that Chamberlin was a fool, a poor negotiator, a liar, or a knave, because Chamberlin did the best that he could do in an attempt to avoid and to avert the terrible destruction and carnage of World War II, and for this he should be commended.


To put things in perspective, in 1938, Europe was not just challenged by the aggression of Germany, but was also challenged by the aggressiveness and territorial ambitions of the Soviet Union, these two great powers created an interesting and challenging dynamic for countries such as Great Britain and France.  With World War I and its devastating destruction in regards to both men and materials, still in its rear view mirror, Great Britain was hardly in neither position nor eager to once again have to devote time, soldiers, money, and infrastructure to yet another great war.  This, in of itself, was reason enough to desire peace, to argue for peace, and to want to achieve peace for our time.  


Additionally, and importantly, Great Britain knew that Germany and the Soviet Union were natural enemies in which there was a strong argument to sit still and let events take their course, as the west's natural antipathy to communism was significantly higher than their distaste for Nazism.  Also, fundamentally, the German war machine would have a need to run on oil in which Germany had no ready access to this most vital energy resource which, in theory, would interfere and hinder German ambitions and its fearsome war machine.


Diplomats and countries have an obligation, a calling, to avert war, and to try to achieve peace when it is possible, to the best of their ability.  A country is great, not because it goes to war, and conquers another for a time, but because it is big enough to recognize that it is not always right, that might certainly doesn't make right, and that we have a moral obligation to try to understand others, to find common ground, and to recognize that we are all truly in this together.


To be angry, and to want to wage war is easy, to restrain oneself, to recognize the rights and validity of others, is maturity, for blessed are the peacemakers.