Friday, May 13, 2005

Pat Buchanan on World War II

I know that I said a few days ago that there'd probably be no more World War II or Holocaust blogging for a while, now that the 60th anniversary of V-E Day has come and gone. I felt that I'd been doing a lot of writing on the topic and that it was probably time for a change in pace for a while. Indeed, I'd had in mind for today a post about a rather amusing little incident that I'd observed that says a lot about the effect cell phones have on people. After all, if there's one thing I've learned in my five months of blogging, it's that my hit count will almost always fall drastically beginning Friday, hitting a low point on Sunday, before rebounding to its usual weekday levels on Monday or Tuesday, regardless of what I post. (It makes me realize just how much productivity is probably lost during the week because of people surfing the 'net and perusing blogs at work.) Consequently, I tend save my more substantive posts for weekdays (even if I actually wrote them over the weekend) and post lighter fare on Fridays and the weekend. (Last week was an exception because of the 60th anniversary of V-E Day on Sunday.)

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:
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.
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.

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.

10 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 5/13/2005 8:04 AM, Blogger HaloJonesFan said...

You're right. Pat Buchanan is sooooo wrong. And so is that Johnathan Swift guy! I mean, eating children? That certainly doesn't sound "modest"!

 

At 5/13/2005 9:44 AM, Anonymous Mark Paris said...

I assume holojonesfan is implying that Buchanon's piece is satire. I find that rather hard to believe, although if I could believe it, I would not feel quite so dirty after having read it.

 

At 5/13/2005 9:53 AM, Anonymous outeast said...

No idea if it was serious, but I must admit my own first response to reading that was the same as HoloJonesFan's: that it was irony or mockery. But these days it's hard to tell - especially in America. [ducks below parapet...]

Off topic, Orac, I did just want to refer to your conclusion that the weekday hits on your site make you "realize just how much productivity is probably lost ... because of people surfing the 'net and perusing blogs at work". An alternative interpretation may be that the 5-day-week, 9-to-5 office pattern is inefficient as it fails to reflect real patterns in the occurrence of work - certainly I do my blog reading in the ridiculous amount of time when I'm sitting around waiting for other people to get tasks to me.

Not saying it is usually that way around - just offering an alternative interpretation. Partial data can be misleading!

 

At 5/13/2005 3:12 PM, Anonymous Man with No Personality said...

I was rather distressed earlier this week when my stepfather, in the course of a conversation, noted that he wondered if perhaps we should have allied with Germany to defeat Soviet Russia, thus sparing the Baltic States from tyranny. He's not antisemitic, mind you, but he is anticommunist, and this was obviously a source of his rather odd belief. He also seemed to think that we could have 'influenced Hitler' on the Jewish situtation.

I now suspect I know where he got the idea from.

Now, let's suppose that by backstabbing England and supporting Germany in the Eastern Front, America brings the war to an early close, with Russia probably surrendering when it becomes apparent they're standing alone. At best, with shipping routes still open, the Holocaust per se might not happen as the German's are free to ship Jews out to remote locations like Madigascar, as may have been the original plan. (Of course, in all likelihood in this scenario, hundreds--perhaps thousand--possibly even millions--of Jews still die, from random Nazi cruelty, from starvation, and from disease.) At this point, we've probably left the Germans in control of most of Europe, and a good chunk of Africa, as well as lording it over the Slavic untermensch, as they called them. Further, in all likelihood the nuclear race still happens, only now between America and Germany, with the possibility of a wounded, resentful Russia working as a third player. It seems that with a little knowledge of history, I've constructed a fairly plausible scenario--and the more I look at it, the more revolting it becomes. One wishes that men like Buchanon and my stepfather would do similiar things before making such suggestions.

 

At 5/13/2005 3:34 PM, Anonymous Mark Paris said...

There is another, somewhat parochial view of things: How many Americans would have died if the US had allied with Germany after the war to push the SU out of eastern Europe? Could an American president, whose primary responsibility must be to the citizens of his own country, justify spending those lives? And at what cost to those in eastern Europe? What would have been left standing after yet another war? The shape that such a war might have taken is not pleasant to consider.

 

At 5/13/2005 6:22 PM, Anonymous Trance said...

Given Buchanan's other writings on the topic of the Holocaust, I doubt that was at all a concern for him.

More and more Buchanan is sounding like a leftist (I don't mean liberal, but far-left type). Never blame those responsible for evil deeds (the Soviet Union, terrorists), always blame the U.S. or UK. He has said the Islamists deserve Europe if Europe is going to continue in its secular ways, and he has defended Mid-East sexist practices from Western desires to change such practices. After all, we're at least as bad, what with our hedonistic society. Short skirts>=honor killings in terms of badness, I guess. Perhaps he'll convert.

I think there are quite a few on the far-right who think this way.

 

At 5/13/2005 11:06 PM, Blogger Orac said...

Interesting concept! Right-wingers frequently call liberals the "Blame America first" crowd, but what is Buchanan doing? He's blaming Britain and America first, rather than the true authors of Eastern Europe's misery, first Hitler (who opened the door for Stalin) and then Stalin, who reneged on his agreement to permit free elections in the territories controlled by the USSR.

I really don't think Buchanan's piece was satirical Buchanan doesn't really do satire, anyway. At least, I've never seen him do it.

Finally, it's very true that it would have been damned near impossible politically to go to war with the USSR right after Germany fell. The public would not have supported going to war with a former ally or diverting effort when Japan (still the "real" enemy in many people's minds given that they were the only ones who actually attacked the U.S. first) was still not yet defeated.

 

At 5/14/2005 2:22 PM, Anonymous Trance said...

I don't think Buchanan is even capable of satire.

And it's always easy to tell those who had to make hard decisions against a real enemy what they did wrong and what they should have seen would happen years later. And somehow I doubt Hitler would have been appeased with *just* Eastern Europe.

Counterpunch.org, this far-left site, quotes Buchanan quite approvingly quite frequently. And they'll have right-wing (far-right) writers sometimes. (I'm a masochist, I guess, reading the fringes like I do). The far-left may think the U.S. is too puritannical and white-dominated while the far-right thinks it's too hedonistic and becoming a Third-World sewer, but they all think it's imperialistic and corporate-run (and Jew-run).

I took that city test and found that my ideal city, at 75%, is Austin, TX, which is where I have lived the past several years. Unfortunately I think I'll be moving soon...

 

At 5/31/2005 9:42 AM, Anonymous jaimito said...

The mood at the start of the war was that Hitler was conquering country after country, had its aim on Britain and there had to be a point where it was to be stopped. That point should have been Chechoslovakia, but Chamberlain surrendered it to Hitler. Britain could not surrender the next decision point, which was Poland.

Buchanan forgets that Germany had embarked in a very agressive, expansionist but most than, a revanchist policy, aimed "winning" the last war and at world domination. At that point, Russia had never attacked anyone and was very busy just surviving. There was widespread hunger in Russia, and the West did nothing to help.

 

At 7/06/2005 6:55 AM, Anonymous Richard said...

As I recall, the famine in the Soviet Union in the late 30's were largely Stalins doing, as part of his campaign to suppress any internal opposition from the 'kulaks'. Blaming western Europe/the U. S. for not giving aid in that situation seems a little far fetched, don't you think?

 

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