The New Appeasers

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen looks on as President Joe Biden speaks during a session of the G20 Leaders' Summit at the Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on September 9, 2023. (Photo by Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)

“I’ve got it.” 

Those were British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s words as he stepped off the plane at Croydon airport after his meeting with Adolf Hitler in Munich in September 1938. What he had was a piece of paper signed by Hitler saying that with the dismembering of Czechoslovakia, Germany had no more territorial ambitions in Europe. That was the signed pledge Chamberlain said represented “peace for our time.”

Chamberlain was wrong, tragically wrong. Instead of bringing peace, their summit paved the way for Hitler’s next round of aggression and the start of World War II.

The upcoming summit in San Francisco between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, scheduled for Wednesday, won’t result in any outcome as dramatic. But this summit between the strongest Chinese premier since Mao and the weakest American president since James Buchanan, may be nearly as disastrous in terms of pushing the U.S.-China relationship further down the wrong track, one where American weakness and appeasement makes war more, not less, likely. 

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