Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wrecking what was left of the West

They're going after Pat Buchanan again. Nothing makes the political Right and Left angrier than the suggestion that their Holy Crusade that took place in the middle of the 20th century, dubbed "World War II," brought no significant improvements either to Europe or to the United States. Stand back and wait for the invectives to fly, if ever you dare to point out that the U.S. had no more reason to intervene in this war than we had to interfere in that century's preceding European carnage.

Over time, it has become acceptable to dissect the blunders and schemes that led to World War I, and our intervention in it. But be ready for hell to break loose, if you insist that even more pernicious were the blunders and schemes that resulted in U.S. intervention in Europe's second needless slaughter.

About this period, devotees of the "greatest generation" will proudly tell you,"This was the time when we all came together as One Nation." What a hell of a way to engage national bonding. Is this why we stay at war, in the hope that those wonderful, good old days might somehow be replicated, thus uniting this multicultural, boiling stewpot we now have going on here? Yes, maybe if we try another war, and yet another war, we can finally bring us all together – just like in those magic days of the Big WW2.

Buchanan set off the first storm with the publication of his provocative book, Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. In it, he makes the case that colossal failures of judgement and diplomatic gaffes were responsible for the ensuing catastrophe. But for this bungling, Hitler would have continued to look eastward, Buchanan asserts, since his real goal was to take on Stalin and the Soviet Union. It was Russia that was in Hitler's sights for the expansion of German territory and power. War with the Western nations was neither desired nor inevitable.

Buchanan quotes Winston Churchill, who, in his memoir, admits as much. Churchill writes:

One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once, "The Unnecessary War." There never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle.

That, from Churchill himself.

Recently, Buchanan tripped wires again with a column that essentially makes the same exposure of Churchill's destructive role, in addition to claiming that Hitler did not want to go to war with Britain. This time, Buchanan is denounced from the usual quarters as a "Hitler apologist," among the nicer epithets. Don't mess with our sacred World War Two, and don't criticize the leaders we have turned into gods.

Buchanan is in agreement with others who believe that, were it not for lack of insight and comprehension on the part of self-deluded Western leaders, the circumstances that led to the savage war, which resulted in the homicidal bombing of civilians, the Holocaust, and Britain's ultimate collapse, would never have come about.

Love of this war has resulted in a cult-like mindset. Almost every U.S. encounter abroad has an analogy to events in WWII. Buchanan believes that it is this 60-year-old cult (which he deems the "Churchill cult") that is responsible for our present calamity of perpetual war. In his book, he writes:

To this cult, defiance anywhere of U.S. hegemony, resistance anywhere to U.S. power becomes another 1938. Every adversary is "a new Hitler," every proposal to avert war "another Munich."

Slobodian Milosevic, a party apparatchik who had presided over the disintegration of Yugoslavia – losing Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia – becomes "the Hitler of the Balkans" for holding Serbia's cradle province of Kosovo.

Saddam Hussein, whose army was routed in one hundred hours in 1991 and who had not shot down a U.S. plane in 40,000 sorties, becomes "an Arab Hitler" about to roll up the Persian Gulf and threaten mankind with weapons of mass destruction. This mindset led us to launch a 78-day bombing campaign on Serbia, a nation that never attacked us, never threatened us, never wanted war with us, whose people had always befriended us.

Buchanan is relentless in his descriptions of the glorified Churchill's role in bringing down his own country. One reviewer is impressed by how well Buchanan "records again and again gross errors of judgment that helped propagate WWI, instigate WWII, facilitate Soviet expansion, and finally terminate the British Empire. It's a sobering account, to say the least, darn near the equivalent of saying Jesus erred on the Mount of Olives."

On the subject of open discussion of the war, Justin Raimondo observes that "dissent is simply not tolerated." Further, "Any challenge to the conventional wisdom is something close to a criminal act ... attacking U.S. entry into WWII is considered a 'hate crime.'"

About the term "good war" that has come to be affixed to this bloodbath, Robert Higgs calls it "an unfortunate turn of phrase, if ever there was one." Nothing good came out of this war unless you consider it "good" that the U.S. positioned itself to achieve permanent hegemony over the entire earth, denying its spiritual birth as a republic, to turn into a warrior nation whose imperial strivings now terrify most countries of the world. What came out of World War II, writes Raimondo, "was perpetual war and a thoroughly militarized American state that can't make a decent car but is geared to project force all over the world."

Paul Gottfried, in supporting Buchanan's depiction of the Allied leaders, writes, "It would be reasonable to point out that what Stalin devoured after the Second World War was what Churchill and FDR had helped put on his plate." If this "good war" had a clear political winner, writes Higgs, "it was Stalin." Higgs maintains that, "The prevailing American view of the war rests on a foundation of myths. The entire enterprise of understanding the war needs to be rebuilt from the ground up."

Speaking of this nation's birth, here is more ignored advice from the Founders themselves. (You might still remember those men whose Constitution is now a disregarded, antique document, that is held in contempt and consigned to the dustbin of irrelevance.)

From James Madison (Political Observations), we learn: "Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. ... No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

War carries the "germ" of every other enemy of freedom.

John Jay (Federalist Nos. 4 and 6) did not see leaders as being trustworthy initiators of war. He worried that some leaders will make war even "when their nations are to get nothing by it." He spoke of leaders harboring motives such as personal ambition, thirst for military glory and revenge for personal affronts. These and other motives can compel a leader "to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people." Jay warned about a nation putting itself in situations that "invite hostility or insult," that could lead to "pretended" causes of war.

As an outspoken observer of human nature, Jay claimed that "Men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious," and avowed that republics, in practice, are just as addicted to war as monarchies. "Are not the former administered by men as well as the latter?" he so wisely asked. He believed that the same aversions and "desires of unjust acquisitions" affect nations as well as kings.

But, what did those antiquated, breeches-wearing Founders know?

End Note
The perpetually exploited Iraq. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Here are two entries from the book, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization, by Nicholson Baker:

Churchill's command
Some Iraqi troops gathered on a plateau near Fullujah, Iraq. It was May 1941. Churchill, in his bombproof map room, had his eyes now on the Middle East. Yugoslavia and Greece, set ablaze and then left in Nazi hands, were lost – but Axis forces, might yet swarm over from somewhere and capture Iraq's oil.

"Troops should be sent to Basra as fast as possible," Churchill wrote to General Ismay of the Chiefs of Staff. The Iraqi prime minister, Rashid Ali, sent word that he could not allow any more disembarkations of British troops until the troops already in Basra had moved on. Churchill ordered the landings to proceed. British civilians left Baghdad, seeking protection at the Royal Air force training base at Lake Habbaniya. They got on flying boats and flew to safety.

A highway of death
The British flight instructors won their great battle. Retreating from the plateau, Iraqi troops made their way down the road toward Fallujah, where they met late-arriving reinforcements. The two groups stopped and began to compare notes. RAF planes spotted this troop concentration and turned the site into a highway of death: "A reinforcing column from Falluja was caught on the road and destroyed by forty of our aircraft dispatched from Habbaniya for the purpose," Churchill wrote. When the "siege of Habbaniya," as he called it, was over on May 7, 1941, fifty-two British airmen were dead or critically wounded; four were in a state of mental collapse. The number of Iraqi dead was not known.

Then, for the last push to Baghdad, new equipment arrived. C.L. Sulzberger, the New York Times correspondent, reported that the Royal Air Force was using American-made Curtiss Tomahawk fighters and Glenn Martin 157 bombers to "harass" Rashid Ali's forces. There was word that Rashid had applied for a transit visa to Turkey. In the end, though, the Iraqi prime minister found his way to Persia, and British-friendly royals were reinstalled in the capital. Commander Smart, the overtaxed director of the flying school, had a breakdown; he was flown out, sedated, in a Douglas DC-2.


Anonymous said...

Would Pearl Harbor still have taken place? Pat Buchanan focuses on Europe, but an eery silence regarding the Pacific. What's to prove that Hitler would have been just satisfied with conquering Russia? One has to be leery of "revisionist history."

Elizabeth Wright said...

There really is no "eery silence," since Buchanan has written about the Pacific in other works. He (along with others), explains the eventual war with Japan in this way: When Britain, very reluctantly, capitulated to U.S. demands to put an end to its 20-year treaty with Japan, this insulted, isolated and enraged Japanese leaders. Remember, Japan had been a faithful ally to Britain in WWI, and was credited with making much of British success possible.

This termination of the treaty, apparently, turned Japan into an isolated, pariah nation, which led directly to its beefed up militarism. Those Brits who wanted to see a renewal of the Anglo-Japanese treaty rightfully feared that the humiliated Japan might lend its services to either Germany or the Soviet Union.

When Japan invaded and occupied Manchuria, Britain (along with the impotent League of Nations) condemned the action, making itself a real enemy of Japan and, by extension, an enemy of Britain's U.S. ally. Now Britain's leaders began to regret the folly of throwing over Japan. Like the other WWI winners, Japan had been dealt some booty under the Versailles Treaty, but attempts were made to keep Japan from acquiring part of said booty, that is, Shantung.

In 1937, Japan invaded and finally controlled the coastal cities of China, and then moved onward into northern French Indochina, and then into southern Indochina. At this point, Roosevelt ordered all Japanese assets frozen. His administration also drew up sanctions to block Japan from buying U.S. oil.

The Japanese Prime Minister (the one prior to Tojo), instead of being belligerent, offered to meet with FDR. The U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Joseph Grew, claimed that Japan was willing to give up Indochina, except for a buffer region as protection from Stalin, if the U.S. would end the oil embargo. Grew said that Japan was ready to give the orders for retreat. FDR said No.

Japan then decided to seize the oil fields of the Indies, but the one obstacle to this plan was the U.S. naval fleet in Honolulu. Well, as we all know, the rest is, indeed, history. Buchanan makes the point that had FDR met with the Japanese Prime Minister, there might have been no Pearl Harbor and no Pacific war, which means there would also have been no Korea and no Vietnam.

Buchanan does not seem to be among those who believe that Roosevelt had fore-knowledge of the coming attack, because the Japanese naval codes were intercepted, decoded, and translated into English by U.S. naval cryptographers prior to Pearl Harbor. According to this story, Roosevelt's motives for playing with a couple of thousand sailors' lives, was due to the fact that most Americans did not want to enter Europe's war. Knowing this, FDR is said to have cynically decided to induce an overt action against the U.S. by Japan, a member of the evil, hated Axis powers. This, he surmised, would inspire the masses to want war.

Concerning your remark about "revisionist history," to me, revisionist history is simply the act of "doing history." As time passes, new research is unearthed and the historian either adds new data or revises old data. Since no history is ever permanently "done," historians continually "do history."

Of course, if that federal "hate crime" bill is passed, historians here in the U.S. will be as restricted from revising certain history (especially about WWII) as they are restricted in Europe and Australia and, until recently, Canada. Buchanan could end up legally prosecuted and imprisoned for his "revisionist" histories. Already the forces that be managed to get his recent column re the above subject taken off the MSNBC website.

Langobard said...

"... Concerning your remark about "revisionist history," to me, revisionist history is simply the act of "doing history." As time passes, new research is unearthed and the historian either adds new data or revises old data. Since no history is ever permanently "done," historians continually "do history. ..."

Thank you so much for pointing out the Soviet-style hysterics some people go into when anyone dares to merely, and intelligently, question the officialista 'party line'!

Isn't that what we Americans have always prided ourselves on, our ability and respect for open inquiry and discussion; and conversely, looked down upon other regimes that engaged in this type of thought censorship?

You are a Godsend, Elizabeth.