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Appeasement never works
[October 18, 2002]

By Nicholas Provenzo

By definition, every dictatorship's hands are drenched in blood, yet some people still think they can be placated by simply appeasing them. Consider the revelation that the Stalinist dictatorship of North Korea now has nuclear weapons, despite promises to the contrary.

In its 1994 deal with the US, North Korea promised it would not develop nuclear weapons in exchange for $2 billion to replace its weapons-capable nuclear reactors with light-water nuclear power plants, as well as shipments of oil to support the almost defunct North Korean economy. At the time, the 1994 agreement with North Korea was hailed as a great victory. Much as Neville Chamberlain spoke of "Peace in our time," after giving Czechoslovakia to Adolph Hitler, then President Bill Clinton called the agreement with North Korea "the triumph of diplomacy." The editors of New York Times chimed in a similar note, writing:

"Diplomacy with North Korea has scored a resounding triumph. Monday's draft agreement freezing and then dismantling North Korea's nuclear program should bring to an end two years of international anxiety and put to rest widespread fears that an unpredictable nation might provoke nuclear disaster."

Eight years later, we now know diplomacy with North Korea was a sham and certainly the world is now more anxious and closer to nuclear disaster than it ever was. But should we honestly be surprised by North Korea's actions? Is it honestly surprising that a nation that rules by bloody force would not keep its word? Is it honestly surprising that even as North Korea's neighbors sought to establish ties with the backwards dictatorship, the North Koreans would be building weapons of mass destruction? It must be, because time and time again the free nations of the world have caved in cowardice to the despots of the world. But why do they do it?

I think people believe appeasement works because they do not grasp the nature of those they are dealing with. They evade the fact that the rational cannot communicate with the irrational. If a nation murders its own innocent citizens, how can it be expected to respect the rights of its neighbors, or abide by the agreements it makes with its neighbors?

At most, appeasement buys short term security. But long term, when as a nation fails to respect the basic rights of human beings, it never can be trusted and must always be considered a threat. It serves no legitimate aim to make deals with those who ultimately make life impossible.

But as long as our politicians think that short term deals and appeasement with tyrants will protect our security, they will choose short term political deals over the much harder job of honestly assessing and dealing with foreign threats. What is needed is a philosophical commitment by our government to protect us and protect our rights, from both criminals at home and tyrants abroad, and the honestly to recognize that there are some people that just can't be dealt with.

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