The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama's America Review

The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama's America
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This excellent book ranks high with Donald Kagan's *On the Origins of War: And the Preservation of Peace.* Both of these classical scholars, knowing well the fall of democratic Athens to Sparta and the ruthless autocrat, Phillip II, understand that wars for the most part are the result of vacillation, fear, and lack of confidence. Wars get started usually due to autocratic rogue nations that are masters at detecting the weaknesses and fears of strong nations. Thornton and another classical scholar, Victor Davis Hanson, are well aware of the inherent strength of the democracies' ability to wage war that often is crippled by their tendency to wring their hands about credibly threatening or going to war and to quarrel among themselves over lesser issues.
Prof. Thornton's section on Obama's America is a devastatingly accurate account of Obama's basic tendency to deprecate American interests, following the liberal left's view that America is some sort of an evil, meddling power in the world. He correctly identifies the very real threat of the militant Islamic jihadis who base their terrorist war essentially on clear parts of the Koran and Hadith that require Muslims to fight the infidels in order to establish universal Shari'ah law. The core of this Islamist threat is Iran, particularly its intent of developing nuclear weapons. Obama's attempt to "engage" Iran has utterly failed, just as in the long run his attempt to deal with the issue through sanctions will fail.
Thornton, also, writes well of the tendency of enlightenment internationalism, begun by Kant and ending with the feckless League of Nations and the U.N., to play into the hands of ruthless autocrats who know how to talk a good game about peace but in fact exploit ideals in service of their own interests.
I hope this book catches on in the publishing world. It deals brilliantly with the subject of war in general and its application to our present war with militant Islam. I suspect however, that this will hardly become a widely read book, as, heavily influenced by the pacifist left and isolationist right, most rather lack the will to face the issue of militant Islam squarely. Thornton shows how this happened in the twenties and thirties when the West dithered and appeased Hitler's Germany, eventually costing an unnecessarily brutal war with the loss of tens of millions of lives. Probably it will take another 9/11 event or two to wake us up to the reality that militant Islam is a formidable enemy out to to destroy the West. Thank heaven for clear-headed men like Bruce Thornton.
I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from this timely, well written book.

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Wages of Appeasement explores the reasons why a powerful state gives in to aggressors. It tells the story of three historical examples of appeasement: the greek city-states of the fourth century b.c., which lost their freedom to Philip II of Macedon; England in the twenties and thirties, and the failure to stop Germany's aggression that led to World War II; and America's current war against Islamic jihad and the 30-year failure to counter Iran's attacks on the U.S. The inherent weaknesses of democracies and their bad habit of pursuing short-term interests at the expense of long-term security play a role in appeasement. But more important are the bad ideas people indulge, from idealized views of human nature to utopian notions like pacifism or disarmament. But especially important is the notion that diplomatic engagement and international institutions like the u.n. can resolve conflict and deter an aggressor––the delusion currently driving the Obama foreign policy in the middle east. Wages of Appeasement combines narrative history and cultural analysis to show how ideas can have dangerous and deadly consequences.

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