Retiring Hitler and
“Appeasement” from the
National Security Debate



2008 Jeffrey Record

From Parameters,  Summer 2008, pp. 91-101.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radi-
cals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been
wrong all along. We have an obligation to call this what it is—the false
comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
                                                              — President George W. Bush

It is high time to retire Adolf Hitler and “appeasement” from the national security debate. The repeated analogizing of current threats to the menace of Hitler in the 1930s, and comparing diplomatic efforts to Anglo-French placating of the Nazi dictator, has spoiled the true meaning of appeasement, distorted sound thinking regarding national security challenges and responses, and falsified history. For the past six decades every President except Jimmy Carter has routinely invoked the Munich analogy as a means of inflating national security threats and demonizing dictators. Presidents and their spokespersons have not only believed the analogy but also used it to mobilize public opinion for war.2 After all, if the enemy really is another Hitler, then force becomes mandatory, and the sooner it is used the better. More recently, neoconservatives and their allies in government have branded as appeasers any and all proponents of using nonviolent conflict resolution to negotiate with hostile dictatorships. For neoconservatives, to appease is to be nave, cowardly, and soft on the threat du jour, be it terrorism, a rogue state, or a rising great power. To appease is to be a Chamberlain rather than a Churchill, to comprise with evil rather than slay it.


The Munich analogy informed every major threatened or actual US use of force during the first two decades of the Cold War as well as the decisions to attack Iraq in 1991 and 2003. Munich conditioned the thinking of almost every Cold War President from Harry S. Truman to George H.W. Bush. For Truman, the analogy dictated intervention in Korea: “Communism was acting in Korea just as Hitler and the Japanese had acted ten, fifteen, twenty years earlier.”3 A year after the Korean War ended, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, citing the “domino effects” of a Communist victory in French Indochina on the rest of Southeast Asia, invoked Munich in an appeal for Anglo-American military action. “We failed to halt Hirohito, Mussolini, and Hitler by not acting in unity and in time. . . . May it not be that [we] have learned something from that lesson?”4 President John F. Kennedy invoked the Munich analogy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, warning that the “1930s taught us a clear lesson: Aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked, ultimately leads to war.”5

Munich indisputably propelled the United States into Vietnam. President Lyndon B. Johnson told his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, that if the United States pulled out of Vietnam, “the dominoes would fall and a part of the world would go Communist.”6 Johnson later told historian Doris Kearns that “everything I knew about history told me that if I got out of Vietnam and let Ho Chi Minh run through the streets of Saigon, then I’d be doing exactly what [Neville] Chamberlain did. . . . I’d be giving a fat reward to aggression.”7 President Ronald Reagan saw in the Soviet Union a replay of the challenges the democracies faced in the 1930s and invoked the Munich analogy to justify a major US military buildup, intervention in Grenada, and possible intervention in Nicaragua. “One of the great tragedies of this century,” he said in a 1983 speech, “was that it was only after the balance of power was allowed to erode and a ruthless adversary, Adolf Hitler, deliberately weighed the risks and decided to strike that the importance of a strong defense was realized.”8 Similarly, George H.W. Bush saw Saddam Hussein as an Arab Hitler whose aggression against Kuwait, if unchecked, would lead to further aggression in the Persian Gulf. In announcing the dispatch of US forces to Saudi Arabia in response to Saddam Hussein’s conquest of Kuwait, he declared, “If history teaches us anything, it is that we must resist aggression or it will destroy our freedoms. Appeasement does not work. As was the case in the 1930s, we see in Saddam Hussein an aggressive dictator threatening his neighbors.”9


Lessons of Munich

In the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, war proponents claimed that war with Iraq was unavoidable, citing the lessons of Munich. Richard Perle, the influential chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, argued in an August 2002 interview:

[An] action to remove Saddam Hussein could precipitate the very thing we are most anxious to prevent: his use of chemical or biological weapons. But the danger that springs from his capabilities will only grow as he expands his arsenal. A preemptive strike against Hitler at the time of Munich would have meant an immediate war, as opposed to the one that came later. Later was much worse.10

In that same month, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in a television interview, opined, “Think of all the countries that said, ‘Well, we don’t have enough evidence.’ Mein Kampf had already been written. Hitler had indicated what he intended to do. Maybe he won’t attack us. . . . Well, there are millions of dead because of [those] miscalculations.” Later, Rumsfeld added, “Maybe Winston Churchill was right. Maybe that lone voice expressing concern about what was happening was right.”11 President George W. Bush, in a speech on 17 March 2003, pointedly noted that in “the twentieth century, some chose to appease murderous dictators, whose threats were allowed to grow into genocide and war.”12

Unfortunately, invocations of the Munich analogy almost invariably mislead because they distort the true nature of appeasement, ignore the extreme rarity of the Nazi German threat, and falsely suggest that Britain and France could have readily stopped Hitler prior to 1939. Additionally, the Munich analogy reinforces the presidential tendency since 1945 to overstate threats for the purpose of rallying public and congressional support, and overstated threats encourage resort to force in circumstances where alternatives might better serve long-term US security interests. Threats that are in fact limited—as was Baathist Iraq after the 9/11 attacks—tend to be portrayed in Manichaean terms, thus skewing the policy choice toward military action, including preventive war with all its attendant risks and penalties. If the 1930s reveal the danger of underestimating a security threat, the post-World War II decades and post-9/11 years contain examples of the danger of overestimating such threats.

Appeasement, which became a politically charged term only after World War II, actually means “to pacify, quiet, or satisfy, especially by giving in to the demands of,” according to Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus, which goes on to list synonyms including “amends, settlement, reparation, conciliation, and compromise.”13 These terms are consistent with what most historians and international relations theorists understand to be the phe-


nomenon of appeasement: states seeking to adjust or settle their differences by measures short of war. Theorist Stephen Rock defines appeasement as simply “the policy of reducing tensions with one’s adversary by removing the causes of conflict and disagreement,”14 a definition echoed by political scientists Gordon Craig and Alexander George: “the reduction of tension between [two states] by the methodical removal of the principal causes of conflict and disagreement between them.”15 Thus Richard Nixon was guilty of “appeasing” Communist China in 1972 by embracing Beijing’s one-China policy, and Ronald Reagan was guilty of “appeasing” the Soviet Union in 1987 by resolving tensions with Moscow over actual and planned deployments of intermediate-range nuclear forces in Europe.

Unfortunately, Anglo-French behavior toward Nazi Germany gave appeasement such a bad name that the term is no longer usable except as a political pejorative. Before Munich, however, observes historian Paul Kennedy, “the policy of settling international . . . quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, thereby avoiding the resort to an armed conflict which would be expensive, bloody, and possibly very dangerous” was generally viewed as “constructive, positive, and honorable.”16 Five years after World War II, Winston Churchill, the great anti-appeaser of Hitler, declared, “Appeasement in itself may be good or bad according to the circumstances. Appeasement from weakness and fear is alike futile and fatal.” He added, “Appeasement from strength is magnanimous and noble, and might be the surest and only path to world peace.”17

An oft-cited case of successful appeasement from a position of strength is Great Britain’s resolution of disputes with the United States from 1896 to1903.18 By the 1890s the number and power of Britain’s enemies were growing. Britain had no great-power allies and faced rising challenges from Germany and Russia coupled with continuing tensions with France and the United States. Tensions with industrially expanding and increasingly bellicose Germany became especially acute when in 1898 Berlin gratuitously moved to challenge British naval supremacy in European waters. Accordingly, Britain decided to reduce the potential demands on its military power by resolving outstanding disputes with the United States and France. With respect to the United States, it agreed to American demands that Britain explicitly accept the Monroe Doctrine; submit British Guiana’s border dispute with Venezuela to international arbitration; agree to US construction, operation, and fortification of an interoceanic canal through Central America; and settle an Alaskan-Canadian border dispute in America’s favor. None of these concessions involved vital British security interests, which in fact were advanced by transforming the world’s greatest industrial power from a potential enemy into a friend (and later indispensable ally). Accepting US dominance within


the Western Hemisphere not only laid the foundation of American entry on Britain’s side in World War I; it also permitted a British naval evacuation of the hemisphere for operations in European waters.

Meaning of the Word

Use of the Munich analogy not only twists the meaning of appeasement; it also ignores the extraordinary nature of the Nazi German threat. Though the analogy’s power to persuade is undeniable, Nazi Germany remains without equal as a state threat. Genuinely Hitlerian security threats to the United States have not been replicated since 1945. The scope of Hitler’s nihilism, recklessness, military power, and territorial-racial ambitions posed a mortal threat to western civilization, and there was nothing inevitable about his ultimate defeat. No other authoritarian or totalitarian regime ever employed such a powerful military instrument in such an aggressive manner on behalf of such a monstrous agenda. Hitler was simultaneously unappeasable and undeterrable—a rare combination that made war the only means of bringing him down. He understood that he could not achieve his international ambitions without war, and no territorial or political concessions the democracies might offer him would ever be enough.

Who but Hitler was so powerful, unappeasable, and undeterrable? Josef Stalin, whose vast crimes were reserved largely for his associates and the peoples of the Soviet Union, had great military power but was cautious and patient. He did not push Moscow’s territorial ambitions much beyond the lines gained by Soviet forces at the close of World War II. He was, unlike Hitler, deterrable and deterred. Mao Zedong, also a domestic political monster, was less cautious but militarily weak. The Korean War taught him the limits of China’s power, and he was eventually double-contained by the United States and the Soviet Union. There was also Mao’s repeated provocation of domestic political turmoil and disastrous economic experiments, which blocked China’s journey toward great-power status by condemning the country to poverty and military backwardness.

Ho Chi Minh and Saddam Hussein were minor geopolitical figures compared to Stalin and Mao. Ho’s ambitions were limited, and his fighting power local, whereas Saddam was never in a position to overcome US military domination of the Persian Gulf. Saddam may have been as bloody-minded as Hitler, but his power always fell far short of his ambitions. If Ho was undeterrable in his quest for a reunified Vietnam under Communist auspices (a fact that escaped proponents of US military intervention), Saddam proved vulnerable to credible deterrence because he always loved himself more than he hated the United States. (Unlike Hitler, he preferred surrender and captivity to suicide.) Though during the 1980s Saddam used chemical weapons against helpless


Kurdish villagers and Iranian infantry, he refrained from using them against Israel and US forces during the Gulf War because he understood that to do so would invite Iraq’s destruction. Kim Jong-il and his regime are capable of wreaking great damage on South Korea, but there is no reason to believe Pyongyang would do so unless attacked. Mutual deterrence has prevailed for almost six decades on the Korean Peninsula, and the Bush Administration, despite a lot of bellicose talk early on, is seeking a diplomatic termination of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program that inevitably will involve mutual concessions.

The Case of Iran

What about Iran? Neoconservatives and their allies have painted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as they did Saddam Hussein, as an undeterrable madman itching to acquire nuclear weapons which he would happily transfer to terrorist organizations—a modern-day Persian Hitler who has to be stopped before it is too late. Iran has had nuclear ambitions since the days of the Shah and is almost certainly seeking to acquire nuclear weapons; after all, Iran is surrounded by four nuclear powers (Israel, Pakistan, India, and Russia) and faces a United States that seeks regime change in Tehran and refuses to rule out the possibility of preventive military strikes against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. It is also true that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who has publicly called for Israel’s destruction, and that Iran has been a supporter of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Iran is also a substantially stronger state than was Saddam’s Iraq in 2003 and enjoys the support of Russia and China. Finally, Iran harbors long-standing ambitions to become the regional superpower of the Persian Gulf.

All of this puts the United States and Iran on a potential collision course. But how serious is the Iranian threat? Ahmadinejad’s rantings are indeed frightening, as were Hitler’s in Mein Kampf, but Ahmadinejad is hardly Der Fuehrer of Iran. By 1939, Hitler was the Nazi state, having eliminated all potential political rivals and military dissenters. In contrast, the Iranian presidency is relatively weak. Iran is a theocracy in which power is wielded in the first instance by those possessing religious authority, which Ahmadinejad does not. The supreme authority in Iran is not the president, but the chief of state, the Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-Khamenei. The supreme leader, who is appointed for life by an Assembly of Experts consisting of 86 religious scholars elected by popular vote for an eight-year term, has the final say over Iran’s domestic and foreign policies and can reverse or overrule presidential initiatives. Any decision for war, including the disposition and possible use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, would certainly not be Ahmadinejad’s to make. Thus while Ahmadinejad may harbor Hitlerian dreams of exterminating Jews, he is not “the decider” in Iran.


Nor is there any convincing reason to believe that a nuclear-armed Iran would be exempt from the grim logic of nuclear deterrence. The presumption of suicidal irrationality prompted calls in the United States for preventive war against the Soviet Union and Communist China before they acquired nuclear weapons.19 Preventive war proponents claimed that the Soviet Union and Mao’s China could not be “trusted” with nuclear weapons—that they would not hesitate to use them against the United States even at the risk of their own destruction. Luckily for the world, Presidents Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson refused to panic. As it turned out, both Moscow and Beijing were seeking to acquire nuclear weapons for the same reasons that other states have sought them since then: to enhance their national security and prestige, not to threaten or commit aggression. The case for Saddam Hussein as a crazed dictator who would eagerly supply weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to al Qaeda was never convincing and has been thoroughly discredited in the wake of the US invasion of Iraq. Iraq had destroyed its WMD following the Gulf War and had no program to acquire nuclear weapons.20 The Bush Administration mistook Saddam’s intentions for capabilities (in very much the same way that Cold War administrations conversely tended to read Soviet capabilities into intentions).

There is no evidence that Iran’s regime is suicidal. On the contrary, compared to Saddam Hussein’s recklessness in invading Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990, Iran has displayed caution and patience. To be sure, its pursuit of nuclear weapons and its provision of weapons and other material aid to Shia militant groups in Iraq risk preventive retaliatory US military action, but the regime in Tehran apparently believes that the stakes involved—acquiring a credible nuclear deterrent and gaining a decisive influence on political outcomes in Iraq—are risks worth chancing. They are calculated risks falling well within the boundaries of rational statecraft. Such goals certainly do not suggest a willingness to risk Iran’s survival for the sake of striking the United States or Israel with weapons of mass destruction. Historian Trita Parsi believes that Iran’s rationality is the probable:

[The] reason why thus far it has not shared chemical or biological weapons with any of its Arab proxies such as Hezbollah, and why a nuclear Iran likely would not share weapons with terrorist groups. Israel has signaled Iran that it would retaliate against any nuclear attack in Israel by hitting Iran—regardless of who attacked Israel. Tehran has fully grasped the meaning of the signal—if any of Iran’s proxies attacked Israel with a nuclear warhead, Israel would destroy Iran. But even without this stern warning, Iran would be unlikely to share the doomsday weapon with its proxies precisely because those groups would cease to be proxies if they acquired such a powerful weapon. Iran’s ambition, after all, is to become the region’s undisputed power; given its tendency to view all other actors as potential competitors, it’s hardly likely that Tehran would undermine its


    goal by sharing the sensitive technology. Judging from Tehran’s past behavior, the Iranian leadership is too Machiavellian to commit such an irrevocable and devastating mistake.21

International security specialist Robert Litwak concurs:

[E]ven when a state sponsorship exists, as between Iran and Hezbollah, major constraints exert a powerful effect. State sponsors employ terrorist groups as instruments of policy, and that implies a high degree of control. A WMD transfer would be an extraordinary act—both in its escalatory character and its consequent threat to regime survival. Crossing that Rubicon would mean relinquishing control of the most valuable military asset in a state’s arsenal. The target state would be taking the risk that the unconventional weapon employed by the terrorist group might be traced back to it and thereby trigger a devastating US retaliatory strike.22

In the wake of 9/11, the White House presumed an Iraqi willingness to transfer WMD to al Qaeda on the basis of shared hatred of the United States. The presumption ignored Iraq’s regional focus, especially on Iran, an enemy Saddam Hussein always regarded as more dangerous than the United States. It also ignored, as Litwak points out, Saddam’s “paramount interest in maintaining and increasing his own power. Far from advancing [his regional and personal agendas], an Iraqi WMD attack on the American homeland (whether direct or assisted) would have guaranteed a regime-destroying US retaliatory response.”23

A potential threat of genuinely Hitlerian proportions could arise in the event that al Qaeda acquired deliverable nuclear or biological weapons. Like Hitler, al Qaeda is undeterrable and effectively unappeasable; all it lacks is Hitler’s destructive power. As a fanatical, elusive nonstate actor, it presents little in the way of decisive targets subject to effective retaliation, and its political objectives—the complete withdrawal of American power from the Muslim world and the destruction of existing Arab regimes as a precursor to the establishment of a single Islamic caliphate—are literally fantastic. Possession of weapons of mass destruction would render al Qaeda a far more dangerous threat than deterrable or weak enemy states. Though the differences between the German dictator and the Arab terrorist leader are obvious, the similarities are impressive. Hitler was a secular German state leader obsessed with race, while Osama bin Laden is an Arab nonstate actor obsessed with religion. Both are linked by bloodthirstiness, high intelligence, a totalitarian mindset, iron will, fanatical ideological motivation, political charisma, superb tactical skills, utter ruthlessness, and—above all—undeterrability. One distinction is that Hitler lacked the means to strike the American homeland, whereas bin Laden already has.



Critics of Anglo-French appeasement of Hitler properly recognize that appeasement failed because Hitler’s ambitions in Europe reached far beyond what the appeasers were prepared to give. But the critics’ assumption that Hitler could have been deterred from attempting the subjugation of Europe by an early show of force or the formation of a grand alliance to stop him reflects a fundamental misreading of Hitler and the Nazi German threat.24 The early adoption of a policy of firmness and deterrence would have altered Hitler’s tactical calculations, but there is no reason to believe such a policy would have caused him to change strategic goals. His tactical opportunism did not encompass a willingness to discard the commitment to creating a German racial empire stretching from the English Channel to the Ural Mountains.

Historian Ernest R. May has observed that if the appeasers had illusions about Hitler, so too did many “anti-appeasers” (presumably including Churchill), who “had their own illusions which were almost equally distant from reality. They believed that Hitler could be deterred by the threat of war. Few suspected that Hitler wanted war.”25 Thus Churchill was wrong when he claimed in 1946 that “[t]here was never a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one that has just desolated the globe. It could have been prevented without the firing of a single shot.”26 Hitler wanted war no later than 1943, and he believed that Germany would be powerful enough to defeat any combination of opposing states. War was thus inevitable as long as Hitler remained in power.

Hitler’s undeterrability renders moot much discussion regarding what might have been. Would, for example, a credible Anglo-French alliance with the Soviet Union (Churchill’s favored course of action) have deterred Hitler from seeking to enslave the Slavic untermensch in the East? Hitler was ideologically propelled to invade the Soviet Union, for which he had both racial and military contempt, and he proceeded to do so in June 1941 notwithstanding an unfinished and expanding war with Britain in the West and the growing difficulties of his Italian ally in the Mediterranean. In reality there was no prospect of a credible Anglo-French-Soviet alliance in the 1930s, given Stalin’s suspicions of capitalist Britain and France and the extreme hostility of much British and French political opinion to Bolshevism and the Soviet pariah state. Russia’s military value as an ally was also questionable, given Stalin’s decimation of the Red Army’s senior leadership. Moreover, the Soviet Union’s lack of a common border with Germany blocked Moscow from projecting its military power against Germany except through Poland and Czechoslovakia.

The fact that Hitler could be neither deterred nor appeased meant that war could have been avoided only via Hitler’s death or removal from power, options that prior to the war were apparently not considered by Lon-


don or Paris and only briefly weighed by some German military leaders in 1938. (Democratic Britain and France were not in the business of sponsoring assassinations of European heads of state.) Beyond Hitler’s departure from power, only a preventive war that crippled German military power, collapsed the Nazi regime, or both could have averted World War II. Yet Britain in the 1930s had no capacity to project decisive military power onto the Continent, much less deep into Germany; and France, though in possession of a large army, had adopted a purely defensive strategy. In neither country was there any public or parliamentary support for a preventive war against Germany; even Churchill rejected preventive war in favor of deterrence through the creation of a grand coalition of anti-Nazi states (and if Hitler nonetheless decided on war, then at least Britain would have locked in powerful allies).

Thus when neoconservative critics of appeasement speak about how Hitler could and should have been stopped prior to 1939, they mean forcible regime change of the kind the United States launched against Saddam Hussein in 2003. But it is here that the neoconservatives and others who believe in the continuing validity of the Munich analogy enter the fantasy realm of historical counterfactualism. For Britain and France in the 1930s, a decisive preventive war against Nazi Germany was morally unacceptable, politically impossible, and militarily infeasible. Neville Chamberlain did horribly misread Hitler, but the neoconservative indictment of Chamberlain falsely assumes that the option of preventive war against Germany was as readily available to London and Paris in 1938 as it was to the United States against Iraq in 2003.

Hindsight is not 20-20 vision; it refracts past events through the lens of what followed. David Potter has shrewdly observed that hindsight is “the historian’s chief asset and his main liability.”27 Robert J. Young notes, in his examination of France and the origins of World War II, that “the problem with hindsight is that it is illuminated more by the present than the past.”28 Thus today we view the appeasement of Hitler through the prism of World War II and the Holocaust, a perspective not available at the infamous Munich Conference of September 1938. British and French statesmen in the 1930s did not know they were on the road to general war; on the contrary, they were seeking to avoid war. How differently would Munich now be seen had it not been followed by war and genocide? Indeed, if Hitler had dropped dead the day after the Munich Conference, Munich in all likelihood would be a historical footnote and “appeasement” a nonpejorative term.

Retiring Hitler and “appeasement” from the national security debate does not mean that the United States should negotiate with any and all enemies or that it should refrain from using force against all threats that are not Hitlerian in scope. The United States is a great power with occasionally threatened interests whose protection sometimes requires the threat of or actual use of force.


What it does mean is that continued employment of the Munich analogy to portray threats—an analogy that, unnecessarily and disastrously, promoted the use of force in Vietnam and Iraq—impedes sound strategic thinking regarding foreign threats to national security and how to properly respond to them.


1. George W. Bush, speech to the Israeli Knesset, 15 May 2008, quoted in Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jim Rutenberg, “Bush Assails ‘Appeasement,’ Touching Off Political Storm,” The New York Times, 16 May 2008.

2. See Jeffrey Record, Making War, Thinking History: Munich, Vietnam, and Presidential Uses of Force from Korea to Kosovo (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002); and “The Use and Abuse of History: Munich, Vietnam, and Iraq,” Survival, 49 (Spring 2007), 163-80.

3. Harry S. Truman, Memoirs, vol. 2, Years of Trial and Hope, 1946-1952 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1956), 335.

4. Eisenhower letter to Winston Churchill, 1954, excerpted in Robert J. McMahon, ed., Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War: Documents and Essays (2d ed.; Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1995), 373.

5. Quoted in Theodore C. Sorensen, Kennedy (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 703.

6. Quoted in Michael Beschloss, ed., Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997), 428.

7. Doris Kearns, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), 252.

8. “Radio Address to the Nation on Defense Spending,” 19 February 1983, in Ronald Reagan, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, 1983, vol. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1984), 258.

9. “Address to the Nation Announcing the Deployment of United States Armed Forces to Saudi Arabia,” 8 August 1990, in George Bush, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George Bush, 1990, vol. 2 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1991), 1108.

10. Reprinted in “Rhetoric Starts Here,” The Washington Post, 3 November 2002.

11. Quoted in Gwynne Dyer, “Laying on the Old Munich Smear,” Toronto Star, 2 September 2002.

12. “This is Not a Question of Authority; It is a Question of Will,” The Washington Post, 18 March 2003.

13. Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus (2d ed.; New York: Hungry Minds, Inc., 2002), 27-28.

14. Stephen R. Rock, Appeasement in International Politics (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 2000), 25-47.

15. Gordon A. Craig and Alexander L. George, Force and Statecraft: Diplomatic Problems of Our Time (2d ed.; New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990), 250.

16. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Random House, 1987), 16, 39.

17. Quoted in Donald Kagan, On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace (New York: Anchor Books, 1995), 317-18.

18. See Rock, 12.

19. See Jeffrey Record, Nuclear Deterrence, Preventive War, and Counterproliferation, Policy Analysis No. 519 (Washington: Cato Institute, 8 July 2004); Marc Trachtenberg, History and Strategy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1991), 100-52; Gian P. Gentile, “Planning for Preventive War, 1945-1950,” Joint Force Quarterly (Spring 2000), 68-74; and William Burr and Jeffrey T. Richelson, “Whether to ‘Strangle the Baby in the Cradle:’ The United States and the Chinese Nuclear Program, 1960-64,” International Security, 25 (Winter 2000-2001), 54-99.

20. Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, Report to the President of the United States (Washington: The White House, 31 March 2005), 45.

21. Trita Parsi, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the U.S. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, 2007), 270-71.

22. Robert S. Litwak, Regime Change: U.S. Strategy through the Prism of 9/11 (Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2007), 304.

23. Ibid., 162.

24. See Jeffrey Record, The Specter of Munich: Reconsidering the Lessons of Appeasing Hitler (Washington: Potomac Books, 2007), especially 15-24 and 67-72.

25. Ernest R. May, ed., Knowing One’s Enemies: Intelligence Assessment Before the Two World Wars (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1984), 520.

26. Quoted in John L. Snell, ed., The Outbreak of the Second World War: Design or Blunder? (Boston, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1962), vii.

27. David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis: 1848-1861 (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), 145.

28. Robert J. Young, France and the Origins of the Second World War (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996), 108.

Jeffrey Record is a Professor of Strategy at the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama. His most recent books are The Specter of Munich: Reconsidering the Lessons of Appeasing Hitler and Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win.

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Reviewed 15 July 2008. Please send comments or corrections to