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Sarajevo &
Munich

Sarajevo and Munich are political
shorthands for diplomatic crises preceding the outbreak of the first and
second World Wars
Munich ? advocating a tough response
to aggression through military action ? reflection of how WWII started
when Britain and France made the mistake of failing to confront Hitler
during the 1938 Munich crisis
Sarajevo ? warning against drift to
war? reflection of how WWI started where Europe heedlessly slipped
into war following the assassination of an Austrian archduke in Sarajevo
The “Munich” analogy has dominated
western thinking since the end of WWII, even though it has led western
leaders astray on many occasions

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John Kerry, US
secretary of state, first coined the term by calling Syria’s use of
chemical weapons on civilians “our Munich moment”. He called for missile
strikes against the Assad regime as a necessary demonstration of western
resolve
President Lyndon B
Johnson invoked munich when justifying the Vietnam War
Supporters of the
Iraq war cited Munich in urging military action against Saddam Hussein

In contrast, Sarajevo was used in the
resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis at the height of the cold
war

President John F.
Kennedy ignored advisors urging him to take military action
While his brother
attorney general Robert F. Kennedy met with soviet ambassador Anatoly
Dobrynin engaged in diplomatic negotiations to resolve the tense
situation (Russia pulled out of involvement from cuba while america
withdrew missiles in italy and turkey under UN inspection)

Threat of a “Sarajevo” is more prominent
in the contemporary world than a “Munich”

China is disputing
with several countries including japan like how Germany confronted its
neighbours during the start of WWI
The US, worried by
the rise of China, may be pulled into an asian conflict by its alliance
with Japan, like how UK was pulled into WWI due to its alliances with
France and Russia

Many national leaders are very keen on
appearing strong to preserve their credibility and seldom back out of
conflicts, approaching rivalries with the Munich mindset

Neither China or
Japan are prepared to look weak by backing off in the East China Sea
The US is also
unwilling to cut back on US naval patrols near China’s coast which would
show weakness

This kind of PLAYGROUND LOGIC is
unfortunately the dominant mode of thinking in international affairs

The Munich mindset is
so entrenched that a real intellectual shift would be required to change
it

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