If all you know about the prelude to World War II is that Neville Chamberlain negotiated a peace treaty with Adolf Hitler, you are seriously missing this lesson. As Prime Minister of Great Britain, Chamberlain not only sought to compromise with Hitler, but also did everything in his power to prevent Churchill from leading the nation in mounting an effective defense. The most frightening aspect of this story is that he almost succeeded.
Look, too, at the price Great Britain paid for defending itself. It lost an empire. It lost hundreds of thousands of its children. Think about it. If Churchill had not interfered, Europe would have been united under Hitler's leadership. The Jewish question would have been resolved for all times. Communism would have been eradicated from the face of the planet. America could not have stood alone once Hitler dominated the rest of the world. By this time, America would have been a socialist paradise. Need you be reminded that Nazism was a socialist movement?
Yes, those who believe in appeasement might well argue with the outcome of Churchill's rise to power. As the author notes in his novel, the appeasers are still among us, still making the same arguments “...such as whether we should appease or confront the forces of terror... how many of today's leaders in Europe and the United States can be found echoing Chamberlain's plaintiff words that their world had been turned upside down by 'a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.'”
Some might argue that we may be excused for missing this lesson of history. We are speaking of events that occurred midway through the last century. However, the lesson was repeated in our own time.
Look at all the ways we attempted to appease the Soviets. The Truman Doctrine of “containment” was nothing more than a compromise that allowed them to persecute the peoples they had already enslaved. The Nixon Doctrine of “detente” was an elaboration of the Truman Doctrine with the same result. Only the Reagan Doctrine of “confrontation” worked, and the Soviet's will to bully was broken. Curiously, the appeasers argue to this day that Reagan's confrontational policy had nothing to do with the demise of the Soviet Union. They aver that the Soviets, led by Gorbachev, tore down “That Wall” of their own volition. That may be, but I agree with schoolchildren who know that the only effective method of handling bullies is to stand up to them, to confront them, to meet force with overwhelming force.
I can only hope that someone in Congress will rise and utter the same words that helped depose Prime Minister Chamberlain, words uttered centuries before by Oliver Cromwell:
“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you! In the name of God – go!”