When States Appease

My article with Peter Trubowitz (“When States Appease: British Appeasement in the 1930s”) is available in the latest issue of Review of International Studies.  View the full article on the RIS website.


When do states appease their foes? In this article, we argue that governments are most likely to favour appeasing a foreign threat when their top leaders are severely cross–pressured: when the demands for increased security conflict sharply with their domestic political priorities. We develop the deductive argument through a detailed analysis of British appeasement in the 1930s. We show that Neville Chamberlain grappled with a classic dilemma of statecraft: how to reduce the risk of German expansionism while facing acute partisan and electoral incentives to invest resources at home. For Chamberlain, appeasement was a means to reconcile the demands for increased security with what he and his co-partisans were trying to achieve domestically. We conclude by discussing implications of the analysis for theorising about appeasement and about how leaders make grand strategy more generally.