As Britain had no alliance with Prague nor any vital interest in East-Central Europe, where no British Army had ever fought before, what was Chamberlain even doing in Munich?
He feared that if war broke out between Czechs and Germans, and Prague invoked its French alliance, a Franco-German war might follow, dragging Britain in as it had in 1914.
Three times that September, Chamberlain flew to Germany to negotiate the peaceful transfer of the provinces of Czechoslovakia where Germans were in the clear majority. After his second trip, to Bad Godesberg, where Hitler had threatened to march, Chamberlain had ordered mobilization of the fleet.
Hitler had backed down and urged Chamberlain to continue his pursuit of a negotiated settlement, which was finalized at Munich.
Why did Chamberlain not tell Prague to defy Hitler and commit Britain to fight for a Czech Sudetenland?
Because Britain was utterly unprepared for war. The Brits had not a single division in France, no Spitfires, no draft and no allies save France. Britain's World War I allies were gone. Italy was with Hitler. Japan was now hostile. Russia was lost to Bolshevism. Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa were unwilling to fight, if the issue was keeping Germans under Czech rule.
And the Americans had gone home. Indeed, FDR had warned, "Those who count on the assured aid of the United States in case of a war in Europe are totally mistaken." Roosevelt's aides informed Paris that, if war broke out, America, under the neutrality acts, would not even deliver the planes France had already purchased.
Why should Britain declare a war it could not win for a cause -- Czech control of 3.5 million Germans -- in which it did not believe, a war certain to bring death to millions and the ruin of Britain?
We Americans did not go to war for the Czechs in 1938, or the Poles in 1939, or the French in 1940, or the Hungarians in 1956. Last month, Russia marched into Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- the Sudeten lands of Georgia. Did we declare war?
If the Russian majorities in east Ukraine or Crimea demand the right to secede and return to Mother Russia, will we go to war to keep these millions of Russians under Ukrainian rule?
If not, upon what ground do we stand to condemn Chamberlain?
Chamberlain's failure was that he trusted Hitler at Munich, as his great rival Winston Churchill would trust Joseph Stalin at Moscow, Tehran and Yalta.