Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February 20, 1938

20 February 1938
Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden resigns over the 'appeasement' of Italy. With overt militarism on the rise across Europe, Britain persisted with its policy of 'appeasement' - making concessions to avoid provoking a wider scale war. Notably, Britain had not intervened in the brutal Spanish Civil War in order to avoid antagonising Italy. The decision of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to recognise the king of Italy as emperor of Ethiopia following the Italians' unprovoked invasion was a concession too far for Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, who resigned.

From his speech to the House of Commons detailing his resignation from the government as Foreign Secretary on February 21, 1938.

I do not believe that we can make progress in European appeasement if we allow the impression to gain currency abroad that we yield to constant pressure. I am certain in my own mind that progress depends above all on the temper of the nation, and that temper must find expression in a firm spirit. This spirit I am confident is there. Not to give voice it is I believe fair neither to this country nor to the world.

Sure he wasn't Winston Churchill. Sure he went along with Chamberlain for a while. But then he snapped out of it and did the right thing. This would be something for Great Britain's current leaders to read aloud to themselves, with a little something added by Maggie......"if we allow the impression to gain currency abroad (and at home) that we yield to constant pressure." .

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