It’s not often that we can take a historical figure from the past and compare their thinking with our modern ways. Our world is constantly changing, with new technology on the rise and different laws going into effect, we can’t stop the speed at which our globe is spinning. However, some ideas have remained the same, with little to no change—one of those ideas is the practice of free market economy. This concept arose during the 18th century and was inspired by a man named Adam Smith. He was a Scotsman who was dedicated to studying the world, its …
We caught up with Kip Perry, producer/co-director, and Elan Bentov, co-director/writer, to talk to us about their experience shooting their latest documentary, The Price of Peace, which will be airing on public television stations this spring.
Q: What drew you to the subject of deterrence vs. appeasement?
A: Victor Davis Hanson’s book, The Seductions of Appeasement, was at the core of our interest in the subject. He outlined a cyclical pattern to societies’ preferences for appeasement and deterrence. He argues that extended periods of relative peace and stability result in a misplaced trust in empathy—thus, when appeasement is used to counter a threat, it eventually fails, and a deterrent strategy is required to regain stability once again. It is always tempting to pinpoint contemporary times within a larger historical context and we asked ourselves where we are in that cycle today and what conflicts of the past fit into that cycle.
Q: Before making the documentary, what were your feelings about deterrence & appeasement?
A: Deterrence seemed to us a posture, or image, rather than a political strategy, while appeasement was a wholly negative term—tantamount to cowardice.
Q: In making the documentary, did your opinions about deterrence & appeasement change?
A: As we researched the topics and investigated various anecdotes, our picture of deterrence and appeasement became clear. In the run up to WWII, appeasement was considered a positive and enlightened concept. If one puts oneself in the position of the war-weary Europeans after WWI it is not difficult to see why appeasement would be favored. It is an approach which relies heavily on trust, understanding, and mutual respect. A strategy which seeks to avoid war at all costs. Appeasement is not a concept which should be derided but, rather, admired as an ideal. Deterrence, we learned, is more expansive and forward thinking than we initially believed. It is far more pragmatic than appeasement, based, frankly, in the innate selfishness of mankind and hedging against that by taking violent or coercive measures to nip threats to stability in the bud. Victor’s explanation of societies’ reactions to deterrence is like a mirror held up to ourselves. He points out, rightly, that deterrence is ugly and by and large, we do not want to embrace it or fully agree that it is the most reliable way to maintain stability, and yet when a threat becomes too oppressive we tend to cry out for blood.
Q: Where was filming the most exciting…and why?
A: Our trip to northern Tanzania to film a family of Maasai was an unforgettable experience. There were so many topics to explore. They live such self-sufficient and independent lives and yet are simultaneously dependent on the various protections granted them by the government. It is an interesting balance which, sadly, implies a certain fragility to their existence—a contradiction between natural ruggedness and self-reliance. They were so very different from us; few possessions, polygamous families, and a life lived within a relatively small geographic area. They travel largely by foot and, we felt, though they see so much less than we do, they know and experience those things far more keenly than we know or experience anything.
Q: Was there any footage that was particularly meaningful to you?
A: We had been brokering an interview with Stanislav Petrov, “The Man Who Saved the World,” in his home outside Moscow. His health was failing and our trip to Russia was delayed again and again. Sadly, he passed away before we could capture his interview, but his son, Dimitri, agreed to appear on camera and relate his father’s tale of a narrowly averted Cold War nuclear apocalypse. Part of our shooting schedule involved following Dimitri to his father’s grave. We didn’t realize how affected he still is by the loss of his father. And while Dimitri is a stoic man, he was genuinely grief-stricken to stand before the still-fresh mound of soil atop his father’s grave. We realized that Stanislav Petrov’s actions, which were really quite impactful, if not widely known, were secondary to Dimitri who knew him simply as his father.
Q: Any interesting behind-the-scenes stories?
A: An undeniably lasting legacy of this production is that it resulted in the passing of a new law on the Falkland Islands. After the Falkland War in 1982, there has been an ongoing effort to clear minefields laid by the Argentine invasion force. We were filming one such mine-clearing operation from the air—buzzing the workers with our drone for a few minutes. The workers, dressed in full ordnance disposal armor, would pause in their highly sensitive task to look up at the drone. Like many places in the world there were no firm regulations in place for flying drones and so we went about our work—fortunately not causing any deadly mishaps by distraction. We later learned that the workers complained and a new law was passed prohibiting unmanned aerial vehicle operation around mine-clearing operations. We like to call it “The Kip and Elan Law.”
Q: Which do you think the U.S. should use toward North Korea—deterrence or appeasement?
A: Neither. We feel that diplomacy is the answer. It seems the only difference between appeasement and diplomacy is one’s own position. Making concessions from a position of weakness is appeasement while negotiation from a position of strength, we would argue, is diplomacy.
Q: Do you have a favorite Churchill quote?
A: Kip—“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
A: Elan—“It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.”
The Price of Peace is now available for viewing on FreeToChoose.TV., our YouTube channel, our Amazon Prime Video Channel and our Roku channel.
Leading up to the onset of World War II, western democracies like Britain and France viewed a policy of appeasement toward Germany as the path of wisdom and restraint. It seemed prudent to make concessions to aggressors if it meant avoiding a bloody war. When Nazi Germany rearmed the Rhineland, annexed Austria, and seized an area of Czechoslovakia, the British and French response came in the form of paper: the Munich Agreement, which conceded these territories to Germany under the condition they make no land grabs. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared to a cheering crowd that the agreement meant “peace for our time.”
Concessions often bring about peace in the short term, defusing tensions for a while… but the aggressor’s initial demands are not forgotten and, in fact, they are often bolstered by newfound doubts about their enemies’ resolve. As such, a greater conflict ensues. This was the case in 1939 when Germany broke the still-new Munich Agreement and invaded Poland, starting World War II.
The lesson of deterrence is one which is hard-learned time and time again. In this one-hour program, the insights of military historian and National Reviewcolumnist Victor Davis Hanson guide our investigation of the United States’ successful deterrence of enemy aggression in the past and the efforts to sustain it in an era of rogue nations and nuclear proliferation.
Compassion fueled the creation of America’s welfare system, a safety net that rescues some of the most vulnerable among us. We often hear political leaders and activists tout the system’s good intentions, but what about those living on welfare? Do they think the system is working? Have good intentions delivered good results? The safety net is ideally more of a trampoline, where people hit it and then bounce back onto their feet, and into rich, fulfilling lives. But today, instead of bouncing back, too many Americans have become ensnared in the net. Of course, the system has helped some people, …
Join us along with The Heritage Foundation for a screening of The Price of Peace hosted by Helle C. Dale, Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy. 🗓 Thursday, April 26th 🕠 5:30 -7:00 PM 📍 The Heritage Foundation | Lehrman Auditorium | 214 Massachusetts Ave NE | Washington, DC 20002 How do we prevent war? How great a price are we willing to pay for peace? Can we use the lessons learned throughout history to extend peace into tomorrow? Those are some of the questions posed by a new 1-hour documentary, The Price of Peace: A Personal Exploration by Johan Norberg. Norberg, a Swedish …
How do we prevent war? How do we maintain peace? These questions have been posed by nations and people throughout history. Concessions often bring about peace in the short term, defusing tensions for a while, but the aggressor’s initial demands are not forgotten and, in fact, often bolstered with time. The lessons of appeasement versus deterrence are hard-learned time and time again. The Price of Peace: A Personal Exploration by Johan Norberg examines the use of deterrence of enemy aggression in the past, and the efforts to sustain it in the current era of rogue nations and nuclear proliferation. Stay up to …
How do we prevent war? How do we maintain peace? These questions have been posed by nations and people throughout history. Concessions often bring about peace in the short term, defusing tensions for a while, but the aggressor’s initial demands are not forgotten and, in fact, often bolstered with time. The lessons of appeasement versus deterrence are hard-learned time and time again. The Price of Peace: A Personal Exploration by Johan Norberg examines the use of deterrence of enemy aggression in the past, and the efforts to sustain it in the current era of rogue nations and nuclear proliferation. State …
Not able to make it to the event? Don’t worry The Hoover Institution is Livestreaming it from YouTube and the Independent Women’s Forum is Livestreaming it on Facebook. Mary Kissel Editorial Board Member, The Wall Street Journal Kiron Skinner Hoover Institution Research Fellow Claudia Rosett Independent Women’s Forum Foreign Policy Fellow Learn more about The Price of Peace here. Check out our new Explore section which has 3 informative timelines, discussion questions, suggested reading list and suggested viewing list here.
The Price of Peace Screening and Discussion by Independent Women’s Forum on March 22nd at starting at 5:30 with a reception and the screening and panel discussion will start at 6:00. How do we prevent war? How great a price is society willing to pay for peace? Can we use the lessons learned throughout history to extend peace into tomorrow? Please join us for a private screening of The Price of Peace: A Personal Exploration by Johan Norberg. Norberg investigates the use of deterrence and appeasement in an era of rogue nations and nuclear proliferation and the documentary examines turning-point historical events to reveal hardlearned lessons …
Hoover Institution is having a screening of The Price of Peace. Following the screening, Peter Robinson, host of Uncommon Knowledge, will interview Victor Davis Hanson about the film. Tickets are free but you must register here. Screening Information: Date: Wednesday, March 7th. Time: 5:00 PM Doors open / Reception 5:30 PM Screening Post-film Conversation to follow with Victor Davis Hanson and Peter Robinson Please arrive no later than 5:15 PM Location: Hoover Institution Hauck Auditorium, David and Joan Traitel Building 435 Lasuen Mall Stanford, CA 94305 About The Price of Peace: Leading up to the onset of World War II, …