Appeasement in an international context is a diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to an aggressive power in order to avoid conflict. The term is most often applied to the foreign policy of the British governments of Prime Ministers Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain towards Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy between 1935 and 1939.
At the beginning of the 1930s, such concessions were widely seen as positive due to the trauma of World War I, second thoughts about the treatment of Germany in the Treaty of Versailles, and a perception that Fascism was a useful form of anti-communism. However, by the time of the Munich Pact—concluded on 30 September 1938 among Germany, Britain, France, and Italy—the policy was opposed by most of the British left and Labour Party, by Conservative dissenters such as Winston Churchill and Duff Cooper, and even by Anthony Eden, a former proponent of appeasement. As alarm grew about the rise of fascism in Europe, Chamberlain resorted to news censorship to control public opinion. Nonetheless, Chamberlain confidently announced after Munich that he had secured "peace for our time".
The policies have been the subject of intense debate for more than seventy years among academics, politicians, and diplomats. The historians' assessments have ranged from condemnation for allowing Adolf Hitler's Germany to grow too strong, to the judgment that Germany was so strong that it might well win a war and that postponement of a showdown was in their country's best interests.
Prior to, and following, the Chinese massacre in Tiananmen Square, various Western governments have been accused of pursuing a policy of appeasement with China, dating back in some cases over 20 years since the original seizure of Tibet by China. For example in 1992, President Bush's policy of engagement with China led him to veto legislation which linked the continuation of USA trade benefits to improvements in China's human rights and arms control record. Similarly with respect to the actions of Serbia, notably against Bosnia, the USA and European countries were accused of pursuing a policy of appeasement, and a wheedling diplomacy that rewarded nationalist aggression.
There is certainly no process, politically or military, to recover Bosnian civilians' lost homes, not even on the betrayal terms contemplated by the Vance-Owen plan, finally torpedoed by the very Serbs it so abjectly appeased.