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Burying Munich 1938!

By Matthew Clark

One of the most curious aspects of West European History are the interactions between British (mostly English) and French denizens. For centuries they have traded, conducted romances, followed intellectual pursuits, and many other pasttimes, with each other. In the past they have both displayed a restless wanderlust, travelling the globe in an effort to achieve wealth, fame, and in many cases, spread the word of God. Indeed the fact that so many individuals around the world who have not a drop of French or British blood in their ancestry yet speak either English or French, is testament to the impact those two peoples have had on human history.

Yet despite these mutual achievements no two groups of human beings, over the centuries, have murdered each other with such reckless abandon. Whether at Hastings in 1066, St. Crispin's Day in 1415, Waterloo in 1815, or the countless battles between these events (and a few since), English and French citizens, despite their many similarities, have done their best to put each other in the grave.

Why this is so is not difficult to understand. Since Charlmagne (800 A.D.) and Ethelstan (927 A.D.) England and France have usually been two big fish surrounded by smaller weaker fish. Both nation's leaders expanded the physical geography of their countries ( France in all directions England on the British Isles). Territories not absorbed, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, were turned into political satellites at best, subserviant appendages at worst. Such actions by one party would cause it's rival to counterreact. Eventually war would commence betweeen the two rivals, usually started by the nation which felt events made it the most vulnernable. An example is France's expansion in 1793 into the Benelux countries causing Britain to declare war. As the two nations grew more powerful they exported this trend all over the globe. Canada, India, Africa, all have had their past affected by the emnity of the British and French.

It is fear which has caused so much bloodletting between France and Britain! Starting in the late 19th century that fear was replaced by another threat. Germany, exploding onto the international stage in 1871, was a nation so powerful it could wield both a hegemonic army as well as a strong navy. Frightened Britain and France became the closest of allies in a united drive to subdue this new menace.

To this day the Brits and French, despite some antagonism towards each other, remain allies. When the German challenge was dealt with the Russians emerged to cause new anxiety throughout western Europe. Scared once more, the political leaders and their citizens remain in a military alliance together.

What is true of Albion and Gaul's relationship is also accurate when scrutinizing the interactions between most of the world's major powers. Russia and Germany for instance have, since 1871, built up a strong trading association, while simultaneously conducting wars against each other which were particularly blood thirsty. These two nations, the most powerful in East/Central Europe, alarm each other. This results in occasions where they resort to force of arms which run contrary to the economic self interests of their citizens. A quick glance at other areas of the globe (Japan/China, India/China, India/Pakistan) indicates this is a human trait not limited to the pecularities of Europe.

Between major powers fear is the driver of military conflict. Yet not always!

In the aftermath of the Dystopia created by World War I political leaders emerged in Germany, Italy, and Japan, who incorporated a general (great power) military conflict into their national aims. German political and military leaders were motivated by their defeat in WWI, which resulted in a loss of national influence, something they believed could only be righted through the triumph of arms. Italian and Japanese national leaders were frustrated by the lack of benefits they saw befalling to the kingdom and Empire despite having fought on the victorious side. While all three regimes disagreed on the proper timing for a general war they all believed armed conflict with other major powers was necessary to the interests of the state's citizens.

As a result of this circumstance there was only one occasion when a global conflict might have been avoided. In September 1938 German dictator Adolf Hitler demandeed Czechlosovakia transfer it's territories with a German speaking majority population to the Third (German) Reich. Czechlosovakia demurred! Initially the Governments of the United Kingdom and France supported the Czechs. The Soviet (Russian led) Union also backed the defiant Czechlosovaks. Senior German military leaders communicated with British and French intelligence personnel that if Hitler defied the western Allies by ordering an invasion of Czechlosovakia they, the German military, would stage a coup. Arguably if such an event occurred German politicians might have abandoned the steady progress towards armed conflict. Without Germany as an allie the Italians and Japanese might well have adopted a less bellicose foreign policy. Another global catastrophe could have been avoided.

Instead despite possessing so many advantages, the French and British Government leaders on September 30, 1938, gave in to German demands. World War Two was the consequence of this failure.

Munish has haunted Western politicians, and senior military leaders, to this day. Not allowing another Munich has become a rallying cry of Western diplomats since the last World conflict. Never give in to your opponents is the standard policy of most Western Governments, particularly ones that are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Yet this analysis ignores the fact that Munich was an anomaly, a product of a peculiar age, It is also counter productive to the achievement of peace. If an opponent adopts the same tactic as his/her "never Munich" Western adversary then war will almost certainly be the result. In this epoch, when a large number of major powers have acquired nuclear weapons, the ominious nature of a military clash among strong nations increases.

During the cold war the inadequancy of following a "Never Munich" strategy became particularly obvious when studying the Cuban Missile Crisis. With boldness the Soviet Communist Party hierarchy, at the invitation of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, placed Soviet troops on Cuban soil, and even more provocatively started assembling nuclear missiles on the island. Upon discovering the Soviet intentions United States President John Kennedy commenced a naval blockade of Cuba. He then gave an ultimatum to the Soviet leadership that they withdraw all military personnel along with the missiles.

Acting decisively President Kennedy nevertheless realized that if war was to be averted negotiations must be initiated. With commendable haste a deal was reached whereby the Soviets would withdraw their people and missiles, in return for an American pledge not to invade the island, while also removing United States nuclear missiles from Turkey (which shared a border with the Soviets). An agreement had been reached which reduced international tensions. Nuclear armaggedon was avoided!

In spite of the Cuban Missile Crisis example the "Never Munich" policy is still an axiom of Western diplomacy. Even though Ukraine has, through the centuries, been an invasion conduit into Russia (Hitler 1941, Kaiser 1915, Napleon 1812 to name a few examples) there is to be no negotiations with the Russians when they object to Ukraine membership in NATO. Russia must bow to the will of the Western nations is the resulting policy.

Similar "Red Lines in the Sand" attitudes are instituted toward Mainland China on the issue of Taiwan. Iran is not to be allowed a sphere of influence in the Persian Gulf etc., etc.

"Never Munich " diplomacy is dependent on overwhelming military power, something neither the United States, nor NATO collectively, any longer possess. Russia, China, or Iran, no longer are intimidated by the West's military forces. As such no negotiation diplomacy(?) will almost certainly result in armed battle between at least some of the major powers! Indeed the Special Military Operation in Ukraine is coming perilously close to currently achieving this state. Future fighting campaigns in Taiwan and the Middle East are presently appearing to be increasingly likely. Three concurrent wars are beyond the resources of the Western Powers. In at least one struggle, if not more, the Western opponent will emerge victorious! Under these circumstances it is time to bury "Munich 1938", get back to meaningful negotiations with our adversaries, and tone down the fear!

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Hey Matt Doug here thought it was a well righten piece that really talked about the situation that appear to be happening

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