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When states appease: British appeasement in the 1930s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 September 2014


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.

Copyright © British International Studies Association 2014 

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1 We define appeasement as a strategy of diplomatic concessions aimed at buying off a potential aggressor. It is a purposive strategy designed to achieve international security. See Rock, Stephen, Appeasement in International Politics (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2000), pp. 1015Google Scholar. This point, that appeasement can be a credible tool for obtaining external security, is often overlooked. See Kennedy, Paul M., ‘The Tradition of Appeasement in British Foreign Policy 1865–1939’, British Journal of International Studies, 2:3 (1976), pp. 195215CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Schroeder, Paul W., ‘Munich and the British Tradition’, The Historical Journal, 19:1 (1976), pp. 223–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 On the historiography of appeasement, see Patrick Finney, ‘The Romance of Decline: the Historiography of Appeasement and British National Identity’, electronic Journal of International History (2000), available at: {}.

3 Layne, Christopher, ‘Security Studies and the Use of History: Neville Chamberlain's Grand Strategy Revisited’, Security Studies, 17:3 (2008), pp. 397-437CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Treisman, Daniel, ‘Rational Appeasment’, International Organization, 58:2 (2004), pp. 345–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Mearsheimer, John J., The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), pp. 164–5Google Scholar.

4 A related realist argument is that leaders will appease a dangerous foe as a temporary measure to ‘buy time’ to build up their military power. See Ripsman, Norrin M. and Levy, Jack S., ‘Wishful Thinking or Buying Time? The Logic of British Appeasement in the 1930s’, International Security, 33:2 (2008), pp. 148–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Mearsheimer, Tragedy of Great Power Politics, p. 165.

5 Anievas, Alexander, ‘The International Political Economy of Appeasement: the Social Sources of British Foreign Policy during the 1930s’, Review of International Studies, 37:2 (2011), pp. 601–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Narizny, Kevin, ‘The Political Economy of Alignment: Great Britain's Commitments to Europe, 1905–39’, International Security, 27:4 (2003), pp. 184219CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Newton, Scott, Profits of Peace: The Political Economy of Appeasement (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Halperin, Sandra, War and Social Change: The Great Transformation Revisited (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), ch. 7Google Scholar.

6 Muller, James W., Churchill's ‘Iron Curtain’ Speech Fifty Years Later (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999), p. 12Google Scholar.

7 Feiling, Keith, The Life of Neville Chamberlain (London: Macmillan, 1946), pp. 268–9Google Scholar; Smart, Nick, Neville Chamberlain (New York: Routledge, 2010), p. 204Google Scholar.

8 See Schroeder, Paul W., ‘Historical Reality vs. Neo-Realist Theory’, International Security, 19:1 (1994), pp. 108–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Rock, Appeasement. Recognition of this fact has given impetus to a well-developed neoclassical realist literature on the causes of appeasement and the related phenomenon of ‘under-balancing’.

9 Some important exceptions include and Jervis, Robert, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976)Google Scholar; Farnham, Barbara Rearden, Roosevelt and the Munich Crisis: A Study of Political Decision-Making (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997)Google Scholar; and Triesman, ‘Rational Appeasement’.

10 Again, there are important exceptions, although none address questions of grand strategy-making. See, for example, de Mesquita, Bruce Bueno and Siverson, Randolph M., ‘War and the Survival of Political Leaders: A Comparative Study of Regime Types and Political Accountability’, American Political Science Review, 89:4 (1995), pp. 841–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Saunders, Elizabeth N., Leaders at War: How Presidents Shape Military Interventions (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Chiozza, Giacomo and Goemans, H. E., Leaders and International Conflict (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11 For a fuller discussion of the model, see Trubowitz, Peter, Politics and Strategy: Partisan Ambition and American Statecraft (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011)Google Scholar.

12 To emphasise, we make no assumption that either international or domestic factors are preeminent. Our approach can thus be differentiated from both Innenpolitik and neoclassical realist approaches in that both international structure and domestic politics are modeled as truly independent variables. To the extent that Innenpolitikers incorporate international structure into their explanations of foreign policy, it is only as a conditioning force – an intervening variable. See, for example, Narizny, , The Political Economy of Grand Strategy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007), pp. 23–4Google Scholar. Neoclassical realist models of foreign policy also only pay attention to domestic politics as intervening variables. See Rose, Gideon, ‘Neoclassical Realism and Theories of Foreign Policy’, World Politics, 51:1 (1998), pp. 144–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Our approach is more similar in spirit to that found in Putnam, Robert D., ‘Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games’, International Organization, 42:3 (1988), pp. 427–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Like Putnam, we consider how international domestic pressures combine to produce policy – in his case, negotiating stratagems and international agreements. Putnam does not extend this intuition to the making of grand strategy and does not propose a theory of either geopolitical or domestic constraints.

13 For a similar formulation of threat as a continuum, see Wallander, Celeste A. and Keohane, Robert O., ‘Risk, Threat, and Security Insitutions’, in Haftendorn, Helga, Keohane, Robert O., and Wallander, Celeste A. (eds), Imperfect Unions: Security Institutions over Time and Space (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 2147Google Scholar.

14 Of course, the level of geopolitical slack in the international environment is not always obvious to contemporary actors or future analysts. Yet leaders and their foreign policy bureaucracies invariably produce assessments of the international scene when governing. For the purposes of our analysis, we rely upon a qualitative understanding of how leaders viewed the geopolitical situation at the time.

15 This argument for why leaders respond to external stimuli differs from the assumption found in neoclassical realism that leaders respond to systemic imperatives first and foremost (even if via an imperfect ‘transmission belt’). See Taliaferro, Jeffrey, Lobell, Steven, and Ripsman, Norrin, ‘Introduction: Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy’, in Lobell, , Ripsman, , and Taliaferro, (eds), Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 4Google Scholar.

16 Waltz, Kenneth N., Theory of International Politics (New York: Random House, 1979)Google Scholar; Walt, Stephen M., The Origin of Alliances (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987)Google Scholar.

17 On buckpassing, see Posen, Barry, The Sources of Military Doctrine: Britain, France, and Germany between the World Wars (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984)Google Scholar; and Christensen, Thomas J. and Snyder, Jack, ‘Chain Gangs and Passed bucks: Predicting Alliance Patterns in Multipolarity’, International Organization, 44:2 (1990), pp. 137–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

18 We recognise that appeasement and buckpassing differ in important respects. What makes appeasement and buckpassing similar, however, is their shared goal of meeting an external threat at a reduced cost.

19 This implication of our argument helps to further distinguish it from varieties of realism, which neglect domestic sources of the ‘national interest’ and instead treat domestic politics as, at best, intervening variables that prevent the national interest from being acted upon. Of course, political parties are not monoliths; they are better seen as composites of blocs of interest groups and voters; how intensively leaders act in accordance with the preferences of their domestic coalitions depends partly on how united the coalitions are. Nor do all groups belong to just a single coalition. Some special interest groups, especially industrial and financial interests, usually attempt to curry favour with multiple potential parties of power and even manipulate domestic opinion beyond membership of partisan coalitions; their influence can thus extend beyond merely comprising one of a leader's several core constituencies.

20 Even autocratic leaders must cater to the broad contours of the domestic political landscape, however. See Chiozza and Goemans, Leaders and International Conflict.

21 On this point, see Christensen, , Useful Adversaries: Grand Strategy, Domestic Mobilization, and Sino-American Conflict, 1947–1958 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 25–6Google Scholar.

22 This partly explains why empirical evidence of the tradeoff between defense and welfare is inconsistent. For a useful review of the debate, see Friedberg, Aaron L., ‘The Political Economy of American National Strategy’, World Politics, 41:3 (1989), pp. 387406CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Chan, Steve and Mintz, Alex, Defense, Wealth, and Growth (London: Routledge, 1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23 Brodie, Bernard, Strategy in the Missile Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965)Google Scholar.

24 Kennedy, Paul M., The Rise and Fall of Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Vintage Books, 1987)Google Scholar; Mastanduno, Michael, Lake, David A., and Ikenberry, G. John, ‘Toward a Realist Theory of State Action’, International Studies Quarterly, 33:4 (1989), pp. 457–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lamborn, Alan C., ‘Power and the Politics of Extraction’, International Studies Quarterly, 27:2 (1983), pp. 125–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Solingen, Etel, Regional Orders at Century's Dawn: Global and Domestic Influences on Grand Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998)Google Scholar.

25 Levy, , ‘The Diversionary Theory of War: A Critique’, in Mildarsky, Manus I. (ed.), Handbook of War Studies (London: Unwin, Hyman, 1989), pp. 259–88Google Scholar.

26 One limitation of our approach is that it does not capture the full complexity of interactive effects whereby geopolitics shape party politics and domestic politics affects the external environment (or perceptions of it). Nevertheless, it would be wrong to overstate the co-constituency of the two. Partisan preferences are almost always rooted in endogenous social, economic and political forces, while geopolitics cannot be reduced to the sum of partisan alignments at home and abroad.

27 Due to limitations of space we describe only the combination of international domestic conditions that lead statesmen to favour cost-minimising strategies like appeasement (scenario III in Table 1). For a detailed discussion of the variations in the types of grand strategy in Table 1 (for example, balancing, expansionism), and the international and domestic conditions that produce them, see Trubowitz, Politics and Strategy, pp. 31–43.

28 We contribute to a growing literature that explains grand strategy during this period with reference to both domestic and international politics, although our argument differs in important ways from this (mostly neoclassical realist) work. See, for example, Schweller, Randall L., Unanswered Threats: Political Constraints on the Balance on Power (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006)Google Scholar; and Taliaferro, Ripsman, and Lobell (eds), The Challenge of Grand Strategy. For a political economy (domestic politics) explanation of British appeasement in the 1930s, see Anievas, ‘The International Political Economy of Appeasement’.

29 Layne, ‘Security Studies’, pp. 404–5; Ripsman and Levy, ‘Wishful Thinking’, pp. 159–63; Schweller, Unanswered Threats, p. 73.

30 Feiling, The Life of Neville Chamberlain, p. 253.

31 See McDonough, Frank, Neville Chamberlain, Appeasement and the British Road to War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), p. 35Google Scholar.

32 Stedman, Andrew David, Alternatives to Appeasement: Neville Chamberlain and Hitler's Germany (London: I. B. Tauris, 2011), pp. 157–8Google Scholar.

33 While the Locarno Treaties (1925) reaffirmed the Versailles settlement's demarcation of borders in Western Europe, they left unanswered the question of Eastern European borders, heightening fears in Eastern European capitals that Germany's eastward expansion was tacitly approved by the Western powers.

34 Just weeks before Munich, Chamberlain explained to his sister: ‘I am satisfied that we should be wrong to allow the most vital decision that any country could take, the decision as to peace or war, to pass out of our hands into those of the ruler of another country and a lunatic at that.’ Self, Robert (ed.), The Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters Volume 4: The Downing Street Years, 1934–1940 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), p. 344Google Scholar. On Chamberlain's reluctance to extend security guarantees to the Netherlands, see Parkinson, Roger, Peace for Our Time: Munich to Dunkirk – The Inside Story (New York: MacKay, 1972), pp. 93–7Google Scholar. On restraining the Poles over Danzig, see Taylor, A. J. P., The Origins of the Second World War (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1961), pp. 221–2Google Scholar. On Chamberlain's need to restrain allies more generally, see Stedman, Alternatives, pp. 156–7.

35 Following Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain reached out to Mussolini but was informed that Italy would only intercede on Britian's behalf conditional on territorial concessions from France. Self, Diary Letters, p. 394, fn. 53.

36 Macdonald, C. A., The United States, Britain and Appeasement (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981)Google Scholar.

37 Ovendale, Ritchie, ‘Appeasement’ and the English-Speaking World: Britain, the United States, the Dominions and the Policy of ‘Appeasement’, 1937–1939 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1975)Google Scholar.

38 Halperin, War and Social Change; Anievas, ‘The International Political Economy of Appeasement’.

39 Stedman, Alternatives, pp. 122, 150–3, 159–60. It is worth noting, however, that London did not bring the full force of British diplomacy to bear to force the Poles to accept Soviet war assistance. Anievas, ‘The International Political Economy of Appeasement’.

40 Halperin, War and Social Change, p. 200.

41 Stedman, Alternatives, pp. 134, 156.

42 ‘Almost certainly’, writes historian David Dutton, ‘Chamberlain himself would have wished to be remembered as a domestic reformer. Had his career been cut short at any time before 1937 this is almost certainly how things would have turned out.’ Dutton, David, Neville Chamberlain (London: Arnold, 2001), p. 192Google Scholar.

43 Feiling, Life of Neville Chamberlain, p. 307.

44 For good overviews of Chamberlain's views of the economy, see Peden, George C., British Rearmament and the Treasury (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1979)Google Scholar; and Shay, Robert Paul, British Rearmament in the Thirties (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977)Google Scholar.

45 Smart, Neville Chamberlain, p. 204.

46 Shay, British Rearmament, p. 160; Aldcroft, Derek H., The Inter-War Economy: Britain, 1919–1939 (London: Batsford, 1970), p. 302Google Scholar. The cabinet formally agreed in March 1936 that rearmament must ‘be carried out without restriction on social services’. See Peden, British Rearmament, p. 89.

47 Peden, British Rearmament, 74. See also Shay, British Rearmament, p. 160: ‘[i]t was universally agreed that any effort to rely on taxation to finance rearmament would lead the nation straight back into the depression.’

48 Shay, British Rearmament, p. 161. This point is stressed in Halperin, War and Social Change and Anievas, ‘The International Political Economy of Appeasement’. We agree that resolve to preserve the stability of British society was a driving force behind Chamberlain's desire for peace. Nevertheless, anticommunism alone is underdetermining. Unfettered anticommunist sentiment would likely have pushed Britain into an alliance with Germany, as indeed some on the far-right advocated in the 1930s, instead of the stand-offish, mutually suspicious relationship that actually characterised the era of appeasement.

49 Peden, British Rearmament, pp. 83–4, 93. On the importance of housing to Britain's economic recovery, see Newton, Profits of Peace, pp. 45–6; and Richardson, H. W., Economy Recovery in Britain, 1932–9 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1967), pp. 153–81Google Scholar. In any case, acute labour shortages made extensive rearmament impracticable in many areas. Peden, British Rearmament, pp. 81–2.

50 Officials feared that lucrative defense contracts would draw British industry's attention away from overseas markets, worsening Britain's balance of trade – indeed, doubly so, given that rearmament itself would require an increase in imported raw materials. On the connection between defense spending and foreign trade, see Peden, British Rearmament, pp. 63, 85–5. See also Layne, ‘Security Studies’, pp. 406–7.

51 According to Nick Smart, ‘[p]rovided defence spending was confined to priorities, was kept within manageable limits and was above all rendered acceptable to a highly sensitive public opinion, he [Chamberlain] was for it.’ Smart, Neville Chamberlain, p. 204.

52 See, for example, Newton, Profits of Peace, p. 73; Layne, ‘Security Studies’, p. 402. As Peden notes, rearmament was not pursued in ‘preparation for war at any specific date’, but for the purposes of deterring a German attack against Britain. Peden, British Rearmament, p. 65. ‘What you want’, Chamberlain explained in 1939, ‘are defensive forces sufficiently strong to make it impossible for the other side to win except at such a cost as to make it not worth while [sic].’ Hucker, Daniel, Public Opinion and the End of Appeasement in Britain and France (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), p. 186Google Scholar.

53 Cain, P. J. and Hopkins, A. G., British Imperialism 1688–2000 (2nd edn, Harlow: Pearson, 2002)Google Scholar.

54 Narizny, Political Economy, pp. 159–64, 168–71. The gentlemanly capitalists' commitment to fiscal orthodoxy also lent tacit support to the rationing of defense spending. See Cain and Hopkins, British Imperialism, pp. 448–9, 479–81.

55 Newton continues: ‘the material interests of the most powerful and prestigious part of the City were wrapped up with the maintenance of [Anglo-German relations]’, providing ‘a rationale for economic détente which was not motivated by fear’ but by interest. Newton, Profits of Peace, p. 58. See also Kaiser, David, Economic Diplomacy and the Origins of the Second World War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980)Google Scholar; Cain and Hopkins, British Imperialism, p. 482.

56 Hansard, HC Deb (21 December 1937), available at: {}.

57 The 1918 Act tripled the size of the British electorate, allowing all males and women over the age of thirty to vote. On the importance of the working-class vote to the Conservatives, see Taylor, Andrew J., ‘Stanley Baldwin, Heresthetics and the Realignment of British Politics’, British Journal of Political Science, 35:3 (2005), pp. 429–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Williamson, Philip, ‘“Safety First”: Baldwin, the Conservative Party, and the 1929 General Election’, Historical Journal, 25:2 (1982), pp. 385409CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and McKercher, B. J. C., ‘National Security and Imperial Defence: British Grand Strategy and Appeasement, 1930–1939’, Diplomacy & Statecraft, 19:3 (2008), p. 395CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

58 In 1922 the Conservatives won 344 seats in the House of Commons (a majority) on 38.5 per cent of the nation vote, but in the following year's general election they were reduced to 258 seats with 38 per cent.

59 Ramsden, John, An Appetite for Power: A History of the Conservative Party Since 1830 (London: HarperCollins, 1998), pp. 261, 288–9, 291Google Scholar.

60 Kennedy, , Realities Behind Diplomacy: Background Influences on British External Policy, 1865–1980 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1981), pp. 240–5Google Scholar. As Daniel Hucker notes, Chamberlain firmly believed (and justifiably so) that working-class sentiment was behind his policy of appeasement. See Hucker, Public Opinion, pp. 30–41.

61 This is one of the lessons that Chamberlain and other Conservatives took from the party's punishing defeats in 1923 and 1929. See Ramsden, Appetite for Power, p. 272.

62 Those regions contained 209 seats, excluding university seats, while 308 seats were needed for a majority.

63 On the regional breakdown of the British electorate, see Dunbabin, J. P. D., ‘British Elections in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, a Regional Approach’, English Historical Review, 95:375 (1980), pp. 241–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Narizny, Political Economy.

64 Ramsden, Appetite for Power, p. 288.

65 Cain and Hopkins, British Imperialism, p. 426; Newton, Profits of Peace, p. 4; Halperin, War and Social Change; Anievas, ‘International Political Economy of Appeasement’.

66 See Stedman, Alternatives.

67 As Gustav Schmidt notes, ‘neither Churchill nor Eden nor the Labour Opposition offered a genuine alternative to appeasement. They, too, spoke in favour of appeasement on a number of issues; for example, in respect of Italy and Japan.’ Schmidt, Gustav, The Politics and Economics of Appeasement: British Foreign Policy in the 1930s (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986), pp. 910Google Scholar.

68 Stedman, Alternatives.

69 Hucker, Public Opinion, p. 20.

70 Indeed, after assessing public opinion to the best extent possible, Hucker broadly confirms Chamberlain's judgement. Hucker, Public Opinion, pp. 30–41. See also Gallup, George H. (ed.), The Gallup International Public Opinion Polls: Great Britain 1937–1975 (New York: Random House, 1976), pp. 122Google Scholar for early polling on attitudes towards war, rearmament and the Chamberlain's leadership; and Kennedy, Realities Behind Diplomacy, pp. 240–5.

71 The 1935 Peace Ballot was considered an unofficial ‘referendum’ on British membership in the League of Nations, disarmament, and collective security. See Narizny, Political Economy, pp. 184–5; and Ceadel, Michael, ‘The First British Referendum: The Peace Ballot, 1934–5’, English Historical Review, 95:377 (1980), pp. 810–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

72 Taylor, Origins, p. 227.

73 Plan Z was put into effect after earlier diplomatic initiatives had failed to obtain Czech submission to German demands. See Faber, David, Munich, 1938: Appeasement and World War II (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009), p. 239Google Scholar; Vyšný, Paul, The Runciman Mission to Czechoslovakia, 1938: Prelude to Munich (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)Google Scholar.

74 Faber, Munich, p. 292. Chamberlain himself recorded that he ‘didn't care two hoots whether the Sudetens were in the Reich or out of it’. Self, Diary Letters, p. 348.

75 Self, Neville Chamberlain, p. 325.

76 Hucker, Public Opinion, p. 57.

77 Ibid., pp. 58–9.

78 Thompson, Neville, The Anti-Appeasers: Conservative Opposition to Appeasement in the 1930s (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), p. 182Google Scholar.

79 Crowson, N. J., Fighting Fascism: The Conservative Party and the European Dictators, 1935–1940 (New York: Routledge, 1997), p. 96Google Scholar. Arguments that the British political class was disunited on appeasement are therefore overstated. Schweller, Unanswered Threats, pp. 73–4.

80 Thompson, The Anti-Appeasers, p. 195; Crowson, Fighting Fascism, p. 104.

81 Crowson, Fighting Fascism, pp. 106–8. The Opposition parties also feared a general election ‘while [Chamberlain's] popularity was so great’. Thompson, The Anti-Appeasers, p. 184.

82 Parkinson, Peace for Our Time, pp. 93–7.

83 Gilbert, Martin and Gott, Richard, The Appeasers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1963), pp. 202–3Google Scholar; Newton, Profits of Peace, pp. 97–8.

84 Colvin, Ian, The Chamberlain Cabinet: How the Meetings in 10 Downing Street, 1937–9, Led to the Second World War (London: Gollancz, 1971), p. 186Google Scholar.

85 Parkinson, Peace for Our Time, p. 122.

86 Chamberlain was considering a peace plan, proposed by Mussolini, to bring Germany and Poland to the negotiating table and settle the Danzig question. Taylor, Origins, pp. 271, 277; Self, Diary Letters, p. 443; Aster, Sidney, 1939: The Making of the Second World War (London: Deutsch, 1973)Google Scholar.

87 See Lobell, , ‘The Second Face of Security: Britain's “Smart” Appeasement Policy Towards Japan and Germany’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 7:1 (2007), pp. 7398CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and MacDonald, , ‘Economic Appeasement and the German “Moderates” 1937–1939: An introductory Essay’, Past and Present, 56:1 (1972), pp. 105–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

88 Aster, 1939, p. 351. On this broader point, see Rock, Appeasement.

89 For a good discussion of the shift in public opinion and its impact on British policy, see Rosecrance, Richard and Steiner, Zara, ‘British Grand Strategy and the Origins of World War II’, in Rosecrance, and Stein, Arthur A. (eds), The Domestic Bases of Grand Strategy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 124–53Google Scholar.

90 Although it might reasonably be charged that Italy and Japan posed the more formidable threat to Britain's overseas empire, it is clear that decision-makers in London saw Germany as the chief threat, at least from 1934–5 onwards and certainly by 1937. On this point, see Bond, Brian, British Military Policy Between the Two World Wars (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), pp. 93, 93–6, 195, 218–19, 243, 277, 280, 313–14, 316Google Scholar.

91 On this critical point, see Hucker, Public Opinion, pp. 83–4, 87.

92 This argument is put forward in Schweller, Unanswered Threats, pp. 47–56, 69–75. To summarise, Schweller argues that elite dissensus, social fragmentation, and regime weakness cause under-balancing, which, for present purposes, can be considered roughly synonymous with appeasement.

93 Schweller's case study of Britain in the 1930s ends in March 1939, when German forces invaded, occupied, and dismembered Czechoslovakia. However, these events constitute a watershed moment after which it was not possible for Britain's political class to ‘downgrade threat perception’ as Schweller's model would have it. The threat posed by Germany was manifest and well understood. Indeed, Chamberlain's initial ‘muted’ response to the invasion invited such a backlash that he was forced to adopt a tougher line on Germany and abandon the language of appeasement in public. Our model accounts for why appeasement persisted in form, even if not in rhetoric, for six months after the invasion of Czechoslovakia. See Schweller, Unanswered Threats, p. 75; Hucker, Public Opinion, pp. 126–8, 131–4; and Parkinson, Peace for Our Time, p. 116.

94 The US case is particularly appropriate for our purposes because the American and British political systems place comparable electoral demands on their leaders. In democracies like the Britain and US, leaders must respond to geopolitical pressures while simultaneously competing to secure the political backing of not only partisans but also a decisive slice of the national electorate. As industrial democracies with strongly competitive multiparty system, elected leaders are sensitive to the distributional consequences of foreign policy and to the tradeoffs between investing in military power (guns) and domestic consumption (butter). We are not the first to highlight the significance of such comparisons between the US and Britain for International Relations theory. See, for example, Waltz, , Foreign Policy and Democratic Politics: The American and British Experience (Boston: Little Brown, 1967)Google Scholar; and Narizny, Political Economy.

95 This section draws heavily on Trubowitz, Politics and Strategy, pp. 64–74; see also Hearden, Patrick, Roosevelt Confronts Hitler: America's Entry into World War II (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1987)Google Scholar; and Gardner, Lloyd C., Economic Aspects of New Deal Diplomacy (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1964)Google Scholar.

96 Marks, Frederick W. III, ‘Six between Roosevelt and Hitler: America's Role in the Appeasement of Nazi Germany’, Historical Journal, 28:4 (1985), pp. 969–82, 982CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

97 Mearsheimer, Tragedy of Great Power Politics, pp. 237, 252–7. See also Arthur A. Stein, ‘Domestic Constraints, Extended Deterrence, and the Incoherence of Grand Strategy: The United States, 1938–1950’, in Rosecrance and Stein (eds), The Domestic Bases of Grand Strategy, pp. 96–123.

98 Kindleberger, Charles P., The World in Depression, 1929–1939 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), p. 272Google Scholar.