In September 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the notorious Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler, in essence ceding Czechoslovakia to the Germans. Chamberlain, on returning to England, bragged that the agreement promised “peace in our time,” noting that he had enjoyed a great rapport with Hitler. History, of course, proved him wrong. Hitler embarked on his campaign for world conquest, accompanied by frightful domestic policies, notably the Holocaust.
President Trump also believes that he has a great rapport with a contemporary dictator. At their joint news conference, Trump initially declared that he believes Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election, this in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Trump has acted on his “special” relationship with Putin to the detriment of our national and international interests. Trump has pushed for a lifting of the sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine. He has consistently maligned and undermined NATO. He has gratuitously insulted our closest allies, including Canada, England and Germany, further compromising efforts at joint security. He has pointedly ignored Putin’s repressive domestic policies, including brutal attacks on domestic press and political opponents.
In simple terms, Trump is a modern day Chamberlain. One of the outcomes of Munich was that the word “appeasement” has come to have a derogatory meaning – namely, an ineffectual attempt to fend off aggression by a hostile power by acceding to its demands.
Trump’s attempt to appease Putin has only emboldened the latter, and is bound to lead to further aggression against the United States and it allies.