Review Essay: The Study of Appeasement in International Relations

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

DiMuccio, Ralph B.A. (1998) Review Essay: The Study of Appeasement in International Relations , Journal of Peace Research 35(2): 101–115.

Research in a variety of fields has provided a perspective on policies of appeasement that differs significantly from the simplistic images underlying commonly held foreign policy attitudes. Nevertheless, most journalists, politicians, pundits and even many prominent students of international relations have virtually ignored serious scholarship on the subject of appeasement, relying instead on the highly negative view that emerged after the failed British effort to avert war in the late 1930s. This essay critically analyzes major scholarly contributions in the study of appeasement and divides this research into three general approaches: orthodox/realist; behavioral/utility; and liberal/exchange. While all three shed light on factors that contribute to the inception of strategies of appeasement, the liberal/exchange approach - by far the least developed or known of the three - possesses the most potential for offering a nuanced explanation. More generally, this review seeks to establish a basis for a critical analysis not only of the journalistic dogma that has attached to such cases as Bosnia, China, and North Korea, but also of the policies themselves.