Churchill? Roosevelt? Reagan? Mao? Nope, guess again!

My time on the elliptical always reaches this moment where my mind drifts free and some bright thought pops into my head…and if I am lucky it stays there long after I finish showering.

Today, a thought occured to me that caused me to realize there is an unsung hero in history-because I had a blinding glimpse of the obvious as to the identity of the most influential statesman of the 20th century.

There are obvious individuals. It would not take long to find backers of Churchill, Wilson, Roosevelt (pick ’em), Reagan, even Nixon. For those whose tastes run to the macabre, there is Hitler and Stalin. Some might say Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Mao. I imagine a few UN sec-gens would make the list.

But I suggest a less likely candidate, someone whose actions set the tone for the manner in which diplomacy and foreign policy has been carried out for much of the 20th century.

I refer to Neville Chamberlain, PM of Great Britain from 1937-1940. History regards him poorly-and rightly so-for his policy of appeasement to Nazi Germany and abandonment of Czechoslovakia. However, his actions have set the tone for much that came after. Never again would a government be willing to give into anything less than overwhelming force and obvious defeat-because to do so would be to engage in appeasement. Now there are some clear times when national or itnernational action has been needed…the invasion of South Korea and later of Kuwait being obvious examples. But from Chechnya to Algiers, from Vietnam to Baghdad, the issue of appeasement and the political fear of being tarred with that brush has led nations to take aggressive stands when perhaps other means would have been better…and all because of Neville Chamberlain.

So the next time you decide you cannot let someone get away with something because it will encourage them to do more of the same, take a moment and thank Neville Chamberlain…then go beat the beans out of that special someone!


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