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Since the 1930s, appeasement has been labeled as a futile and possibly dangerous policy. In this landmark study, Stephen Rock seeks to restore appeasement to its proper place as a legitimate--and potentially successful--diplomatic strategy. Appeasement was discredited by Neville Chamberlain's disastrous attempt to satisfy Adolf Hitler's territorial ambitions and avoid war in 1938. Rock argues, however, that there is very little evidence to support the belief that dissatisfied states and their leaders cannot be appeased or that appeasement undermines a state's credibility in later attempts at deterrence.

Rock looks at five case studies from the past 100 years, revealing under what conditions appeasement can achieve its goals. From British appeasement of the United States near the beginning of the twentieth century to American conciliation of North Korea in the early 1990s, Rock concludes that appeasement succeeds or fails depending on the nature of the adversary, the nature of the inducements used on the antagonist, and the existence of other incentives for the adversary to acquiesce. Appeasement in International Politics suggests the type of appeasement strategy most appropriate for various situations. The options range from pure inducements, reciprocity, to a mixture of inducements and threats. In addition to this theoretical framework, Rock's explicit comparison of appeasement and deterrence offers important guidelines for policymakers on when and how to implement a strategy of appeasement.

At a time when the strategy of engagement plays an increasingly central--and controversial--role in U.S. foreign policy, Appeasement in International Politics reestablishes the long-discredited use of inducements as an effective means of preventing conflict.

Stephen R. Rock, professor of political science at Vassar College, is the author of Why Peace Breaks Out: Great Power Rapprochement in Historical Perspective and Faith and Foreign Policy: The Views and Influence of U.S. Christians and Christian Organizations.

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

"Rock’s case studies and theoretical propositions significantly advance our understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of inducement strategies in the conduct of international affairs."—American Political Science Review

"Argues that there is little evidence to support the belief that dissatisfied states and their leaders cannot be appeased or that appeasement undermines a state’s credibility in later attempts at deterrence."—Book News

"In this revisionist, thought-provoking, rich, and well-written work, Rock offers an alternative theory about the positive uses of appeasement and inducements in history."—Choice

"Offers unsurprising but sensible recommendations, including a policy approach of mixing deterrence with engagement."—Foreign Affairs

"Will be a controversial yet solid and definitive work on the complex and misunderstood idea of ‘appeasement’ for years to come."—John D. Stempel

"A thoughtful, careful analysis of a diplomatic strategy that has long been dismissed by scholars and policy makers."—Journal of Politics

"This well-written book will be studied by political science students and policymakers alike. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"This ambitious study offers far and away the best theoretical work on appeasement to date."—Randall L. Schweller

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Diplomacy, International relations, International politics


International Relations

Appeasement in International Politics
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