Pat Buchanan on World War II
But then Pat Buchanan had to go and write this, screwing up my plan. I guess the amusing anecdote will have to wait until the weekend or sometime next week. Sorry. But, as the medicine/science/Holocaust/World War II blogger, I have to comment briefly. Buchanan commented about President' Bush's speech, in which Bush pointed out that America bore some culpability for the domination of Eastern Europe for nearly a half century. Instead of simply partially agreeing while finding Bush's history a bit simplistic, as I did here and here, he took the issue much farther:
Ugh. Notice that nowhere is there a mention of the Holocaust. True, the Holocaust was not the original reason Britain and later the U.S. went to war with Germany. (Indeed, the Holocaust did not turn mainly exterminationist until after the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, and most of the six million were killed between 1941 and 1945.) But isn't Buchanan's failure even to mention it rather telling? Apparently to him, stopping the Holocaust was not a sufficiently good outcome of the war even to be worth mention in passing. You'd think he might have at least mentioned it, but apparently it is not sufficiently important a historical event for him.Other questions arise. If Britain endured six years of war and hundreds of thousands of dead in a war she declared to defend Polish freedom, and Polish freedom was lost to communism, how can we say Britain won the war?
If the West went to war to stop Hitler from dominating Eastern and Central Europe, and Eastern and Central Europe ended up under a tyranny even more odious, as Bush implies, did Western Civilization win the war?
In 1938, Churchill wanted Britain to fight for Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain refused. In 1939, Churchill wanted Britain to fight for Poland. Chamberlain agreed. At the end of the war Churchill wanted and got, Czechoslovakia and Poland were in Stalin's empire.
How, then, can men proclaim Churchill "Man of the Century"?
True, U.S. and British troops liberated France, Holland and Belgium from Nazi occupation. But before Britain declared war on Germany, France, Holland and Belgium did not need to be liberated. They were free. They were only invaded and occupied after Britain and France declared war on Germany – on behalf of Poland.
When one considers the losses suffered by Britain and France – hundreds of thousands dead, destitution, bankruptcy, the end of the empires – was World War II worth it, considering that Poland and all the other nations east of the Elbe were lost anyway?
If the objective of the West was the destruction of Nazi Germany, it was a "smashing" success. But why destroy Hitler? If to liberate Germans, it was not worth it. After all, the Germans voted Hitler in.
Next, note how Buchanan puts the blame on Britain for "wanting to fight for Poland," rather than on Hitler for invading Poland in the first place! Never mind that Hitler had been pursuing an aggressively expansionist agenda and that Neville Chamberlain had been burned at Munich and labeled an "appeaser" for his agreement with Hitler, which he had proudly trumpeted to his people as "peace in our time." He was in no mood to trust Hitler again, and he was right not to. Apparently, in Buchanan's world view, Britain and France had no business making alliances with Poland to try to check German power and that Western Europe wouldn't have needed to be liberated by the United States if only Britain and France had left well enough alone and not bothered to declare war on Germany after the invasion of Poland.
Finally, note that Buchanan apparently doesn't blame the Stalin for going back on his agreement at Yalta to allow free elections in the territories occupied by the Soviet Union, even though it was his desire to dominate Eastern Europe that led to the occupation of Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. Our alliance with the Soviet Union was one born of necessity. The U.S. and Britain had little choice but to ally themselves with Stalin, as odious as he was, after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. If the Soviet Union had fallen, then Hitler would have become almost unbeatable, dominating all of Europe from the Urals to the English Channel. The U.S. may have made mistakes, which, if they had not been made, could have decreased the territory that fell under Soviet control or decreased that control, as Professor Bainbridge has argued, but it is unlikely that anything the U.S. could have done would have prevented Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. And we should remember that the real person responsible for the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe was Hitler. After invading Poland and partitioning it between him and Stalin, he then opened the door to the Soviets by invading the Soviet Union, brutalizing its population and thereby feeding a frenzy for revenge, and then losing the war. After Stalin, Hitler was the primary author of the misery that Eastern Europe endured, because he made it possible for Stalin to take over that territory.