Warren on Buchanan and Piatak on Hitler and Churchill

Spencer Warren writes (and Tom Piatak replies to him below):

Some additional points on the controversy raised by Patrick Buchanan’s Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War:

1. Buchanan claims Britain and France should not have declared war on Hitler, who would then have attacked Soviet Russia after conquering Poland. The resulting conflict would, he claims, have destroyed Communism and left Germany much weakened, while Britain and France could have built their strength. This of course is conjecture at best and half-truth at worst. Buchanan accepts Hitler’s claim he had no designs on the British Empire. Apart from the obvious absurdity of such a claim (how long, for example, did Hitler keep his promise of peace with Czechoslovakia made in the Munich agreement?), does Buchanan explain what Germany’s naval expansion plans (Plan Z) meant for British security? Hitler expected full-scale war to begin a few years after he invaded Poland (which he did not expect Britain and France to use as a casus belli). He was planning a vast expansion of his navy by the mid-40s, to include four aircraft carriers and many more battleships, i.e. a full battle fleet. Against what country could such a fleet be aimed, other than Britain—and the U.S? Buchanan sounds as naive as the foreign policy pronouncements of the left-wing Obama.

2. Does Buchanan discuss Hitler’s development of an intercontinental strategic bomber whose range reached New York? Such a prototype was indeed built (and shown on a History Channel documentary). By the later 1940’s, Hitler would have had a fleet of these and likely would have developed the atomic bomb by then. As a result, it is highly unlikely, had Buchanan’s advice 70 years after the fact been followed, that he would ever had had the opportunity to write such rubbish. And what would this atomic bomb have meant for British security?

3. Buchanan claims her exertions in World War II destroyed the British Empire, with lessons for the American “empire” of today. Britain’s economic lead that was the foundation of the empire was beginning to erode even before the twentieth century and this erosion was accelerating well before 1939. Britain had already agreed in principle to dominion status for India before the war. It is absurd to think Britain could have or would have wanted to hold on to the empire in the second half of the century. The new socialist Britain? Is Buchanan familiar with the economic studies of Paul Kennedy and Corelli Barnett, to name just two, documenting Britain’s relative economic decline?

4. Buchanan and some of his paleocon acolytes at Taki’s Magazine also minimize the consequences of a German victory in the First World War. And, by their historical speculation, no German defeat in 1918, no vengeful Treaty of Versailles and no Hitler. Here again they demonstrate their historical ignorance. At the least, Germany planned to eliminate France as a first-rate power by annexing more of its mining and industrial areas and imposing heavy reparations, make Belgium into a virtual protectorate and occupy the Channel ports, annex much territory in the East at Russia’s expense and turn Europe in a customs union dominated by Germany. Imagine an EU run by militaristic Imperial Germany and its dominant Prussian military clique. In the words of the highly respected German historian Wolfgang Mommsen, Germany’s claims “would have meant that Europe could be dominated by German hegemony totally.” Buchanan’s view that the First World War was basically about nothing is the same as leftist revisionists going back to the 1920s.

5. As to the Versailles Treaty, Buchanan seems ignorant of the latest scholarship on this subject, which finds the treaty not all that bad under the circumstances. It left Germany by far with the greatest latent power in Europe, as we learned only twenty years later. See Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World and Zara Steiner, The Lights That Failed: European International History, 1919-1933). It was less punitive than what Germany planned had it won.

6. I understand Buchanan in his book criticizes Churchill as an unregenerate enemy of Germany for all his career. Does he discuss Churchill’s 1913 proposal, as First Lord of the Admiralty, of an Anglo-German naval “holiday,” or freeze, in order to allay the naval arms race that Germany, the leading land power, had precipated in order to threaten the naval supremacy of Britain, the leading sea power?

7. An essay at Taki’s Magazine by Tom Piatak also takes Churchill to task for not helping the Poles at the time of the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944, when Stalin’s army stood and watched from the other side of the Vistula as the Nazis wiped out the Polish Resistance, who had been urged by the Soviets to revolt. Churchill and Roosevelt did all they could under the circumstances to pressure Stalin into allowing Allied aircraft to drop supplies to the Poles. The historical record shows both men were horrified by Stalin’s conduct. But Piatak, like Buchanan, simplistically refuses to look at the situation as the statesman faced it at the time. Hitler was not yet defeated. Churchill and Roosevelt knew Stalin’s mistrustful nature and had reason to fear he still might make a separate peace with Hitler, at our expense. They could hardly break up the alliance at this point. Unlike Piatak and Buchanan, they had the responsibility for the lives of their armies and their countries and had to be prudent, not outspoken. Like Buchanan, Piatak takes a quotation, by Churchill, out of this historical context to make him look like a naive fool. With regard to Yalta, the facts were that the Red Army occupied most of Eastern Europe at the time of the conference early in February 1945. The Churchill quotation Piatak cites on Yalta to argue Churchill was dishonestly covering up for Stalin can be met with many other quotations showing, in private, Churchill understood what the truth was. Again, he was in no position to break up the alliance in March 1945. Britain and the U.S. were endeavoring to secure Stalin’s adherence to the Yalta agreement with regard to elections in Eastern Europe, as the record abundantly shows, and they wanted his assistance in the war against Japan, which at that time was expected to last into 1946—the atomic bomb was not successfully tested until July 1945.

Alas, reading Buchanan and Piatak is like reading a left-wing publication, where facts are in short supply and twisted to support an emotional fixation that could be held only by a dogmatic person who does not understand the details and nuances of history—and who doesn’t care.

Readers may be interested in John Lukacs’s negative review of Buchanan’s book that appeared in Buchanan’s own magazine, The American Conservative.

On Hitler’s plans for the US, readers may also want see this, by the highly respected G. Weinberg.

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Tom Piatak writes:

I refer Spencer Warren to this review of Norman Davies’ history of the Warsaw Rising for a Polish perspective on Churchill.

I dealt with a number of these issues in my February 2007 review in Chronicles of “My Dear Mr. Stalin: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin,” by Susan Butler. The Allies provided tremendous material assistance to the Soviets, but never sought to use this to put any pressure at all on Stalin. Roosevelt wrote, on March 7, 1942, that he “wished all material promised to the Soviet Union … to be released for shipping at the earliest possible date regardless of the effect of these shipments on any other part of the war program.” Roosevelt never wavered from this policy, and Butler presents numerous examples of Roosevelt castigating subordinates for being too slow in responding to Stalin’s demands or for thinking that maybe the United States should get something in return for all the aid being showered on Stalin. Indeed, Butler makes clear that FDR always intended for the USSR to be one of the dominant world powers after World War II, and he always viewed Stalin as a partner, not as an adversary or even a rival.

As for Churchill, he put pressure on the Poles not to push for an investigation of the Katyn forest massacre of thousands of Polish officers, which shows that he at least suspected what we now know, that the Soviets had murdered those men, not the Nazis. At the Tehran Conference, both Churchill and Roosevelt agreed to allow Stalin to keep the portion of Poland he had seized in 1939, without ever bothering to inform the Poles of this secret arrangement.

The FDR-Stalin correspondence shows, contrary to what Mr. Warren speculates, that the Allies were never concerned about Stalin making a separate peace with Hitler. In fact, it was Stalin who was fearful, until the very end of the war, of a separate Anglo-American peace with Germany. But by unilateral promulgating a policy of unconditional surrender at Casablanca, the Allies lost the ability to leverage this fear of Stalin’s. Indeed, they refused even to tell the truth about the Soviets.

This is what Churchill told Parliament, on August 2, 1944, as the Red Army was standing idly by watching the Germans crush the Warsaw Uprising: “The Russian armies now stand before the gates of Warsaw. They bring the liberation of Poland in their hands. They offer freedom, sovereignty, and independence to the Poles.” And when some MPs questioned the wisdom of Yalta, Churchill told them: “Marshall Stalin and the Soviet leaders wish to live in honourable friendship and equality with the Western democracies…. I know of no Government which stands to its own obligations, even in its own despite, more solidly than the Russian Soviet Government.”

Those who view Churchill as invariably heroic should carefully consider those words, spoken by the prime minister not only in the knowledge that he was lying but knowing that his brave words of defiance to the Nazis in 1939 and 1940 had been paid for, in part, with Polish blood, both in resistance to the Nazi invasion of 1939 and the defense of Great Britain. In the crucial days of September and October 1940, Polish pilots constituted between an eighth and a quarter of the pilots available to Fighter Command for the defense of London and accounted for 18 percent of German planes destroyed on September 11, 14 percent on September 15, 25 percent on September 19, and 48 percent of all German planes destroyed on September 26. As Air Chief Marshall Dowding admitted after the Battle of Britain, “had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry I hesitate to say that the outcome would have been the same.” For this “unsurpassed gallantry,” the Poles received at Yalta what the Czechs received at Munich—the subjugation of their country—with one difference: This time, Churchill defended the betrayal in Parliament.

M. Jose writes:

I think that Paul Gottfried has some interesting thoughts in this column about World War I that relate to the discussion between Spencer Warren and Tom Piatak.

LA replies:

I don’t mind people discussing the Great War if they are interested in it, but does anything that Paul Gottfried says in this article change the key point of contention, which is that Paddy B. says that we should have let Hitler conquer and rule all of Europe? If it doesn’t, I’m not interested. It’s all a distraction from the main point. Paleocons love to immerse themselves in obscure historical discussions while our world, in the present, is going to hell.

Ironically, Paul Gottfried himself made the same point recently in a comment at VFR, pointing out that paleos are obsessed with obscure Catholic controversies from the 17th century that add nothing useful to our understanding of politics.

Spencer Warren writes:

Piatak also has the wrong figure for the number of people forcibly repatriated by the Allies to Soviet Russia near the end and after the war. According to the definitive book by Nikolai Tolstoy, Victims of Yalta, it was about two million, not the five million figure he uses. I don’t write this in mitigation, but if a person doesn’t get his facts right, it undermines his credibility.

Spencer Warren continues:

Mr. Piatak writes:

1. “… Butler presents numerous examples of Roosevelt castigating subordinates for being too slow in responding to Stalin’s demands or for thinking that maybe the United States should get something in return for all the aid being showered on Stalin. Indeed, Butler makes clear that FDR always intended for the USSR to be one of the dominant world powers after World War II, and he always viewed Stalin as a partner, not as an adversary or even a rival.”

The U.S. and Britain were very concerned about getting supplies to Stalin as quickly as possible because Soviet Russia was bearing the full brunt of the Wehrmacht in the bloodiest full-scale war in history, and the Allies, against Stalin’s repeated, at times vehement protests, had twice postponed the promised invasion of France from the summer of 1942 to June 6, 1944. These supplies were the glue of the alliance, the only way (in addition to the strategic bombing campaign) they could counter a reasonable belief, from Stalin’s point of view, that they were letting Hitler bleed Russia. Many histories go into detail on how Churchill and Roosevelt agonized how to break to Stalin the news of the latest postponement and the reasons therefor.

If Roosevelt did not view Stalin as “an adversary or even a rival,” why then did he agree with Churchill at Hyde Park in 1943 under no circumstances to share the atomic bomb secret with Stalin? Please explain, Mr. Piatak.

Roosevelt saw the military alliance with Stalin as paramount until the end of the war, including the war with Japan. He told some complaining congressmen sometime in 1944, as I recall, that he knew Poland was facing a terrible situation in the future, but there was nothing he could do so long as Soviet Russia was crucial to the defeat of Hitler. This, and some other examples, can be found in Robert Dallek’s Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945.

2. “At the Tehran Conference, both Churchill and Roosevelt agreed to allow Stalin to keep the portion of Poland he had seized in 1939, without ever bothering to inform the Poles of this secret arrangement.”

Again, Mr. Piatak and those like Patrick Buchanan who share his views, approaches history precisely like a leftist. He reads it backward and refuses to discuss the dilemmas faced by Churchill and Roosevelt at the time. Naturally, the Polish government-in-exile in London was in conflict with Stalin over the future of Poland. Yes, our leaders recognized that Stalin was probably responsible for the Katyn Massacre. But they needed Stalin to defeat Hitler. As for their not “bothering to inform the Poles of this secret arrangement,” had they done so, they would have opened another source of tension with Stalin, who was constantly complaining about the postponements of the invasion of France and delays in supplies, which were endangered in the daunting Arctic convoys past Nazi-occupied Norway and Spitsbergen. Telling the Poles of this arrangement would certainly have enraged Stalin and damaged the alliance against Hitler. Just like any utopian leftist (such as Obama), Mr. Piatak is complaining that our leaders did not conduct foreign policy like Sunday school. Sir Martin Gilbert’s lengthy biography of Churchill provides exhaustive detail on Churchill’s great difficulties in wrestling with the dilemma presented by Poland’s tragic situation. Churchill agonized at times over this. Unlike Mr. Piatak writing from the comfort of 70 years after the events, Churchill recognized there was no easy answer to a tragic situation. He had the worst war in history to win.

3. “The FDR-Stalin correspondence shows, contrary to what Mr. Warren speculates, that the Allies were never concerned about Stalin making a separate peace with Hitler…. Indeed, they refused even to tell the truth about the Soviets.”

Mr. Piatak again shows naivete in thinking that correspondence between FDR and Stalin would show FDR was concerned about Stalin making a separate peace. Does he expect FDR to have written to Stalin about this? As I write I cannot provide my source about the separate peace concerns but will do so within a few days. I may have read this in Vojtech Mastny, Russia’s Road to the Cold War. I will check this.

As for the Allies refusing “even to tell the truth about the Soviets,” again, this sounds like a complaint one would read in the Nation or some anti-U.S. left-wing European publication. More naivete.

4. ” … the Poles received at Yalta what the Czechs received at Munich—the subjugation of their country—with one difference: This time, Churchill defended the betrayal in Parliament.”

One can reasonably argue that Churchill, under the enormous strain of five years of war, went overboard in the first two months after Yalta—although in private, in his messages to Roosevelt, his deep concerns about Stalin are clear. (He also expressed these concerns as early as 1942, in private conversations.) However, we must again recognize that, at the time of the Yalta Conference, the Red Army already occupied most of Poland. Mr. Piatak should explain just what he would have had Churchill and Roosevelt do to reverse this tragic situation. Mr. Piatak again demonstrates his leftist thinking in his inability to accept there is evil in the world, monstrous evil, and that our democratic statesmen had to do the best they could under the unprecedented, forbidding circumstances they faced. A true conservative would understand this.

Finally, may I note that in the opening of the preceding paragraph I accept some criticism of Churchill—I try to look at the history with some balance and nuance. One finds none of this in the extremely one-sided paleocon attacks on this subject. And, parenthetically, on the subject of Buchanan’s animus against Churchill, which Larry Auster has addressed, nineteen years ago Buchanan tried to claim Churchill knew in advance about Pearl Harbor, for which there is no credible evidence. It would be interesting to know whether he continues this claim in his latest book.

LA writes to Spencer Warren:

Very interesting and useful. First rate. The way you stick to one point and keep sticking to it.

Mr. Warren replies:

Many thanks. I thought you would like it. It’s sort of fun. If only Repubs knew how to go for the jugular, i.e., the underlying assumptions of the other side. That’s why you get some people so mad at you, as you have noted before.

Alan Levine writes (June 28) in response to Spencer Warren’s initial post:

I thoroughly agree with everything Spencer Warren said about World War II, but I think he is slightly off base in his remarks about WWI. Yes, it is true that Imperial Germany’s plans were more extreme than the Treaty of Versailles, but he fails to take into account the point that all the ALLIED wartime schemes, put together, were even more extreme. Imperial Russia just never got a chance to implement its extensive plans of annexations, while the French were restrained by the British and Americans.

All of this, of course, was water under the bridge by 1939.

By the way, I think that it is unfair to compare Imperial Germany, with all of its faults, to the present-day EU, just as it is unfair to compare the sort of people running the EU to the appeasers of the 1930s. The sort of people running Europe today are far more insane than either lot!

As for Tom Piatak:

1) Roosevelt and Churchill did not agree to Soviet demands on the Soviet-Polish border until Yalta. Churchill had long warned the Polish Government-in-Exile that he would have to do so. By then, of course the Soviets had occupied all of the disputed area and half of the rest of Poland to boot

2) Piatak seems obsessed with the old idea that Yalta “sold out” Poland, and refuses to recognize that the main problem was that Stalin violated the (admittedly not too satisfactory) agreement. Yalta could not have pleased any self-respecting Pole, but it was not, in itself, the end of all hope for Poland.

3) The idea that the Western powers were in a position to put pressure on Stalin in 1942 is ridiculous. They were afraid of a Soviet defeat in the current war, which was the controlling issue.

4) Stalin most certainly used the threat of a separate peace to blackmail the Western allies in 1942 and 1943, and may have tried to initiate a peace with the Nazis in 1941. (The only disagreement about the latter point is whether he was serious or trying to confuse the Nazis)

Peace feelers were extended to the Nazis in 1942 and 1943 to frighten the Western powers.

5) Piatak takes no account of the point that Western expressions of “faith” in Stalin, in 1944 and 1945, no matter how idiotic they may sound today, and no matter how hollow they sounded even to Churchill then, were necessary to avoid giving the Axis enemy hope that the Allied coalition would fall apart . In fact, the only criticism one can make of that is that the enemy continued to hope for that anyway.

Alan Levine writes in reply to Spencer Warren’s most recent comment (June 30):

Spencer made excellent points, but I would add one or two corrections.

1) The Western powers never promised the Soviets a second front in 1942, the Soviet claims on this point resting on pulling statements out of context that never represented a pledge.

2) Churchill did in fact make clear to the Polish government-in-exile that Britain would not support Poland on the issue of the Polish-Soviet border. It was the Americans who were more reluctant to cave in to Stalin on this issue and finally did so only at Yalta, well after the disputed area was under Soviet control. The grim story of Polish-British conversations on this was published by the Sikorski Institute. I still remember reading Churchill’s bitter remark to Prime Minister Mikolajczyk that he could not stop every injustice, that “Britain could not defend all the rights.”

3) It has been known for some time that Stalin authorized a peace move toward Germany in 1941, although it is still not clear whether this was intended seriously. It never reached the Germans because the Bulgarian Ambassador to the USSR who was supposed to pass it on refused to do so.

It has also been known for a very long time—at least since 1950—that Stalin had extended peace feelers through intermediaries in Sweden in late 1942 and 1943, these almost certainly intended to scare the Western powers, who did learn of them at the time.

Tom Piatak writes:

According to Mr. Warren, the American conservatives of the ’50s and ’60s who were nearly universal in their condemnation for Yalta and contempt for FDR were “leftists.” Mr. Warren reminds me of the American “conservatives” who regard it as their mission to conserve the liberalism of the prior generation.

I don’t know why Mr. Warren finds it impossible to believe that FDR would have written to Stalin expressing concern over the possibility of Stalin’s making a separate peace with Germany. Stalin’s own correspondence to FDR frequently expresses Stalin’s own fear of a separate Allied peace with Germany. As I pointed out, the Allies never attempted to leverage this fear of Stalin’s for concessions in either the post-war world or in the conduct of the war, having already agreed at Casablanca that Allied policy would insist on unconditional surrender.

There is no evidence that either FDR or Churchill seriously feared the prospect of Stalin’s making a separate peace with Hitler, and such a fear would have been unreasonable. Once the Nazis invaded the USSR, Stalin had no choice but to fight Hitler. He did not need our encouragement or support to do so. And one of FDR’s principal concerns—unmentioned by Mr. Warren—was his desire to secure Soviet participation in FDR’s utopian globalist scheme, the United Nations. Indeed, FDR’s postwar vision always included having the Soviet Union as one of the “Four Policemen” (the others being the U.S., the UK, and China) who would control the post-war world. As a result of FDR’s naivete about the Soviets, we ended up giving the Soviets all they asked for during the war, sought nothing in return, and betrayed Poland to Stalin at Yalta.

Despite what Mr. Warren suggests, this course of events was hardly inevitable. A number of Americans told FDR at the time we should be getting something in return for Lend Lease. Rather than taking this advice, he directed that war shipments to the USSR take precedence over the needs of our own troops. A number of British MPs, well aware of Poland’s role during the war, were outraged by Yalta, which is why Churchill needed to tell Parliament lies about how trustworthy the Soviets were. The Polish government in exile in London knew the Soviets were not to be trusted, yet FDR and Churchill consistently marginalized the Poles before finally betraying them and extending diplomatic recognition to Stalin’s puppet regime. It is true that by the time of Yalta the Allies had already carelessly tossed aside bargaining chips they could have used to extract post-war concessions from Stalin, but at the very least they should have continued to recognize as legitimate the Polish government in exile in London and refused to go along with the farce of Yalta.

Yalta was far worse than Munich, because it involved the betrayal of an ally that had fought and bled for the West, and even played a significant role in helping to save Britain during the Battle of Britain. It was also made worse by the fact that Churchill defended this betrayal in Parliament, as Mr. Warren continues to do to this day.

Spencer Warren writes:

Readers desiring a fairly detailed account of Yalta (as well as Munich) may wish to consult the two pertinent chapters in the recent book by the highly respected British historian David Reynolds, Summits: Six Meetings that Shaped the Twentieth Century. (I do not recommend the following chapters, however.) The footnotes will refer readers to the many specialized studies.

Reynolds concludes that Roosevelt and Churchill did a very good job of bargaining at Yalta.

Spencer Warren continues:

With respect to Roosevelt’s views of the United Nations, readers (and Mr. Piatak) may wish to consult, among other books,

Second Chance: The Triumph of Internationalism in America During World War II by another respected historian, Robert A. Divine. Roosevelt recognized that the only way to avert the isolationism that followed World War I, with such disastrous results, was to appeal to the American people’s idealism by creating the new world organization with us in the lead. This public idealism was very much in evidence during the war. (For examples in historical context, see my chapter on Churchill’s philosophy of international politics in Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech Fifty Years Later, edited by James Mueller.)

Divine explains that for Roosevelt, the U.N. was a hopeful plan as well as a shrewd policy to ensure that the immense sacrifices of the war would not go for naught, as those of the First World War had. But, recognizing the realities of power, it was Roosevelt who pushed the idea of the Security Council, through which the big powers would direct the new body. It also helps to explain, in Divine’s view, why Roosevelt was so concerned to avoid political disputes with Soviet Russia during the war about the postwar settlement, as he feared the American public would become disgusted about the revival of the bad old “power politics” that many believed had brought on the war, and would refuse to back an active U.S. role in the world. That was an oft-used term in 1944-46. Public unity to win the war as quickly as possible was Roosevelt’s highest priority.

With further respect to Roosevelt’s policy, we must remember that Buchanan and company come out of the isolationist tradition; indeed, Buchanan in the past has proudly—indeed, perversely—invoked the “America First” banner of the Charles Lindbergh isolationists, who tried (with the pro-German bundists and extreme leftists, including the U.S. Communist Party) to obstruct Roosevelt’s policy of aid to Britain when she stood alone in 1940-41, holding in her arms the very future of Western civilization. This period, from the fall of France in June 1940 until the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, was the fulcrum of the twentieth century, when civilization hung in the balance. Buchanan’s intellectual forebears were on the wrong side, Roosevelt on the right side. Indeed, Roosevelt’s actions to keep Britain going stand among the highest acts of statesmanship in our history, along with Lincoln’s during the Civil War (of which Buchanan and co. also are very critical). On Roosevelt’s actions, see William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, The Undeclared War, 1940-41.

These isolationists, had, among many disastrous efforts, pushed for enactment in Congress in 1938 of the Ludlow amendment, which would have required a public referendum before the U.S. could declare war, except in case of an attack on the U.S. Another isolationist leader is a hero of the paleocons, Senator Robert Taft. With good reason, Roosevelt in 1940-41 attacked these isolationists as “fifth columnist appeasers.” They were then, as their successors are today in their interpretation of the history of this period, as blind to brutal facts and realities as those on the far left.

LA replies:

As I have said many times, paleocons (understandably) so hate the consequences of World War II, such as the growth of the centralized state and the empowerment of liberalism, that they start believing in a world in which fighting Hitler wasn’t necessary. They flee into a gnostic fairyland while demonizing the people who actually dealt with reality and gave us the free, peaceful, and prosperous world we occupied after the war. They imagine that that world could have existed without the actions that they now, in retrospect, damn. It is a thoroughly irresponsible—and thoroughly liberal—position.

What are liberals? People who see the universe as a provider of goods, but who never consider what the universe has to do to provide us with those goods.

In the next day or so, I may be try to sum up the arguments of Messers Warren, Piatak, and Levine.

Gerald M. writes (July 1):

I’ve been following the Warren-Levine-Piatak et al. thread about Buchanan’s book with great interest. I hope it’s not beating a dead horse, but I’ll throw in my two cents.

In considering the choices England and Churchill made, I’m reminded of the story about the Polish soldier. During a fierce battle, a Polish soldier is charged from one side by a German, and from the other side by a Russian. After the battle is over his general rides up, and sees the Polish soldier standing there, smoking a cigarette, the German and Russian lying dead at his feet. The general says, “Good work, my lad. But tell me, how did you decide who to shoot first?” The soldier laughs, “It was easy.” He points at the dead German. “I shot him first. Business before pleasure.”

Churchill’s most profound insight—which, I think, was made possible by his deep knowledge and understanding of history, and in which he displayed shrewder judgment than those, Stalin included, who thought “you can do business with Hitler”—was that Hitler, in total charge of the highly efficient, extremely talented, and revenge-minded German nation, was not insane, but was dangerously unbalanced, a megalomaniac who could impose no limits on himself, someone who could and did lead his people over a cliff in pursuit of his ambition. In this way he was different from Stalin, a monster to be sure, but a much more cautious and cagey monster, one far less likely to risk the complete physical annihilation of his people, no matter how many millions of them he annihilated himself. In other words, Stalin had limits, and you could do business with him, at least to a point.

Like some of the others on this thread, I’ve studied World War II, Churchill and Hitler, for a long time. While I disagree with a few assertions that Spencer Warren and Alan Levine have made (for example, the significance of the Hossbach memorandum and Plan Z remain controversial, and some historians doubt they are reliable guides to Hitler’s intentions), I generally concur with their judgments. Hitler’s Germany posed an existential challenge to Western civilization that had to be dealt with, a challenge greater and more immediate than that posed by Soviet Russia.

Some specific comments. Although Mr. Warren ably answered Mr. Piatak’s complaint about Roosevelt’s obsession with getting Lend-Lease aid to the Russians, even at the expense of U.S. troops, I would add another reason for Roosevelt’s concern: the disastrous record of Allied aid efforts to Russia in World War I. In that war, Russia tried desperately to buy as much war material as possible from the Allies (and from neutral America). For various reasons, including corruption, incompetence and misunderstanding on both sides, the aid was slow in coming and did not arrive in truly large amounts until Russia was virtually beaten and revolution was breaking out in early 1917. The belief that the failure of the Allies to provide timely aid to Russia contributed to Russia’s defeat by Germany was conventional wisdom both in Russia and the West for many years. As it happens, this view has been largely debunked by modern scholarship, notably by Norman Stone in his, Eastern Front 1914-1918, but FDR almost certainly believed it in 1941 and was determined to do everything in his power to avoid a similar outcome in World War II.

He was right to do so, because Lend-Lease played a critical role in helping Russia stave off defeat in 1942 (when much of Russia’s war industry was still being relocated to the Urals and Siberia) and in “tearing the guts out of the Wehrmacht,” (Churchill’s phrase), in ‘43 and ‘44, making the Normandy invasion possible. The Red Army accounted for 80 percent of German soldiers killed in World War II, so Lend-Lease, and Roosevelt’s concern with it, were justified and undoubtedly saved many American lives.

Again, contra Mr. Piatak, Churchill and FDR had good reason to fear a separate peace between Bolshevik Russia and Germany in World War II because that’s exactly what happened in World War I. Changing sides and/or abandoning one’s allies is a common practice in war and statecraft. Finally, there was that little thing known as the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939 which probably didn’t increase Anglo-American trust in Stalin as a steadfast partner.

A few words about Buchanan’s book, and PJB himself. I’ve read it, unlike some of the commenters. Buchanan makes a fairly good case against British intervention in World War I, although never quite explaining why the German fleet was not a “dagger pointed at our throat,” as more than one British leader stated before 1914. His description of the inter-war years is excellent, and in response to what Spencer Warren (I think) said about revisionist scholarship demonstrating the mildness of the Versailles Treaty, Buchanan memorably describes how it was perceived at the time by the Germans and many of the Allies, as a harsh and hypocritical diktat designed to crush and humiliate the losing nation, in violation of the principles for which the Allies had supposedly fought.

But that’s about all I can say in favor of it. Buchanan’s inability to see Hitler as Churchill did, as the most dangerous man in the world, as sui generis, as a man who could not be dealt with like other men … is very disappointing to me, for I’ve admired Buchanan (and read most of his books) for years. I can only speculate, but I think he is so angered by the neocons—how they’ve taken over conservatism, how they dominate our foreign policy, and how they seem to have great influence in both parties, though under different labels—that it has warped his judgment, causing him to go “a book too far” (forgive clumsy WWII allusion) in attempting to connect the decline and fall of the British empire with what he sees as America’s ruination by the neocons. It doesn’t work for the same reason the neocon analogies between Hitler and “Islamofascism” don’t work: there is no connection. They are incommensurate. They are different historical phenomena and must be understood on their own terms.

Well, I could go on, but I think I’ve taken enough whacks at this thing. I do appreciate your keeping this history buff oriented thread alive as long as you have.

Adela G. writes:

Gerald M. writes:

” … Hitler, in total charge of the highly efficient, extremely talented, and revenge-minded German nation, was not insane, but was dangerously unbalanced, a megalomaniac who could impose no limits on himself, someone who could and did lead his people over a cliff in pursuit of his ambition. In this way he was different from Stalin, a monster to be sure, but a much more cautious and cagey monster, one far less likely to risk the complete physical annihilation of his people, no matter how many millions of them he annihilated himself. In other words, Stalin had limits, and you could do business with him, at least to a point.”

So well put. That has always been my impression of the crucial difference between Hitler and Stalin. Hitler would or could not stop himself, he had melded his own identity so completely with his ambition and political power. He saw himself as the living embodiment of some Nazi idea or absolute.

I think this is also why Hitler had a magnetism more compelling than Stalin’s. People responded to that sense emanating from Hitler that they were all being swept up in something so much larger than any government of merely human dimensions. It was a perverted form of “we needs must love the highest when we see it.”

By contrast, the wily Stalin seems never to have forgotten where his own identity ended and his position of power began. He used his political power to achieve personal ends. He did not conceive of it as an extension of his very being, as Hitler did.

Thus Hitler saw any attempt to thwart him as an attempt to change the course of history, to thwart the destiny of the Third Reich. Stalin, however, saw opposition to his position and policies as a human conflict in which he wanted to best his opponents but in which it was possible that he himself might be bested.

The fanatic, responding only to inner direction, is more dangerous than the merely criminal, who can be slowed or stopped by the threat of punitive action.

Gintas writes:

Buchanan assumes, I think, that if the Germans had had a free hand, they and the USSR would have bludgeoned each other to death. It is not clear at all that that would have happened, desirable as it might sound. A free hand would mean many of the German army and air force units stationed in Norway, France, North Africa would be available for action in the USSR. While the Germans really blundered in many ways in their invasion of Russia, it was still a close thing. In November, 1941, the smell of panic was in the air in Moscow, Stalin was actually fearing that it was over, and the government was packing to move East.

If Germany had forced the USSR to come to terms, the Germans would have their Lebensraum in the East, and then what does Germany become?

Mencius Moldbug writes:

I have a more general question for those who see such a brilliant chess player behind all of FDR’s decisions: do you have any fundamental criticism of FDR? I mean, he was president for 15 years, wasn’t he? Did he make any mistakes at all? Or did his infallibility extend only to foreign policy?

Those who are interested in history, rather than hagiography, might enjoy Robert Nisbet’s very fair-minded book Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship:

And let me once again recommend John T. Flynn’s The Roosevelt Myth, which is online:

LA replies:

Mr. Moldbug weakens his own case by accusing Mr. Warren, Gerald M., et al. of hagiography. For example, in Mr. Warren’s long post of the other day that I praised, he was not treating FDR as a saint. He was explaining FDR’s and Churchill’s decisions in the light of the pressures and challenges they were facing. Yet to Mencius, such a rational discussion and defense of political leaders amounts to hagiography.

LA continues:

For a full-length discussion of the regrettable tendency on the Old Right (i.e., America-Firsters, isolationists, paleo-libertarians, neo-Confederates, Buchananites) to label as “hagiography” or “hero-worship” any failure to agree with their demonization of historic Western figures, see the September 2002 entry at VFR, “Hate-Lincolniana.”

Spencer Warren writes:

I just want to point out that Mr. Piatak has so far ignored my request that he explain why FDR’s refusal to share the A-bomb secret with Stalin does not rebut his claims about FDR.

Tom Piatak writes:

That rebuts what? What I have pointed out is that FDR and Churchill signed off on Soviet control of eastern Poland at Tehran, that Churchill lied to Parliament about Soviet intentions, and that Yalta gave moral cover to the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe. What I could also have pointed out was that, at Tehran, Churchill and FDR also agreed to support the Communists in the Yugoslav civil war, that FDR’s administration and parts of the British government were honeycombed with Soviet spies, who used their influence to push for pro-Soviet policies by America and Britain, that Yalta also paved the way for Communist expansion into Asia, and that the Allies shamefully sent to their deaths many thousands of anti-Communists after Yalta as part of Operation Keelhaul. This is the record Mr. Warren is defending.

There is a reason conservatives after World War II saw Yalta as a shameful sellout, and why liberals were the ones making the arguments Mr. Warren makes today.

Gerald M. writes:

Mencius Moldbug asks if I and the other posters in this thread think Roosevelt made any mistakes. Why, yes, I do. Many. For the most part, FDR’s New Deal expansion of government has had terrible effects, reverberating down through the years to today. In foreign policy—I know this sounds naive—I think he set a very bad precedent in his deceitfulness about getting us into war with Germany. I wish he had used the bully pulpit of the presidency to go the Churchill route, and started ringing the alarum bells about Hitler in the late ’30s, and tried to educate the American public about the danger. But that was not his way. Roosevelt was an underhanded type, with few or no scruples, and refused to risk losing his popularity. Perhaps he was right to act as he did (given what I believe had to be done) before Hitler so foolishly declared war on us; perhaps deceit was the only way, but I, again probably naively, would like to think the nation could have been rallied against Hitler in an above board, transparent way. I also think he blundered with Japan, and provoked her into attacking us. But then, the Japanese leadership had a chip on its shoulder the size of Mt. Fuji, and was looking for an excuse to “run wild,” to quote Yamamoto out of context.

And, by the way, I do think FDR was, overall, a good war leader. Among other qualities, he displayed a better grasp of strategy, and the limitations of our inexperienced forces, than General Marshall, his top military advisor, when he agreed with Churchill’s request to divert our forces to North Africa (where they could learn to fight the Germans under relatively favorable terms) instead of sending them to England, as Marshall wanted, where they would have suffered the worst defeat in American history in Marshall’s ill-conceived plan to invade France in 1943. Which is, come to think of it, more evidence that Roosevelt was not under Stalin’s thumb, for the chief Soviet demand at that time was, “Second front NOW!” Yet Roosevelt, in effect, vetoed it, until American troops were ready in 1944.

Also, on the Buchanan book thread, Mencius stated FDR was president for 15 years, so someone should point out that it was 12 years (or, to be more precise, about one month into his 13th year, since he died in April of ‘45 and was first inaugurated in March of ‘33).

Mencius Moldbug writes (in a comment that came in the same time as Gerald’s, above):

Note that no one has answered my question.

The “hagiography” occurs when the two-dimensional image of the Leader is compared to the three-dimensional human. I didn’t see anyone arguing that FDR should be appointed St. Franklin, but when you compare Spencer Warren’s FDR to John T. Flynn’s, the difference is much the same as the difference between a saint and an average person. Lincoln clearly had exceptional personal talents. It’s hard to say anything of the like for FDR, whose main asset was his name. (Another excellent FDR biography is Finis Farr’s—very hard to find, unfortunately.)

One symptom of the “hagiography” is this weird, ahistorical convention of ascribing all the decisions and actions of the executive branch to the Leader himself. It is well known that Lincoln was a weak president, and FDR was an extremely weak one. To the extent that any one individual was responsible for what came out of the White House under FDR, it was Harry Hopkins. However, a nontrivial amount of White House Kremlinology (a term that’s really not too strong for the New Deal) is required to understand the source of any one decision. There were certainly multiple competing power centers.

The real irony of this picture is that by supporting Lincoln and FDR over their respective opponents—not to mention the American Revolution itself—VFR, if such is its party line, is supporting the victorious left-wing faction over the defeated right-wing one. Essentially, it only becomes VFR around 1950. Until then it seems to be VFL. While the enemies of Lincoln, FDR, and Washington were human as well, and often very flawed, I find it fascinating to understand the losers who opposed them.

LA replies:

I’ve edited out parts of Mr. Moldbug’s comment because they went into details on Lincoln that would take us far afield from the topic of this discussion, though I admit I may have seemed to open the door to such a discussion by linking the old “Hate-Lincolniana” thread.

That said, with respect for Mr. Moldbug, I must point out how unsound are the judgments he expresses in his comment. Let’s go through a few of them:

“Lincoln clearly had exceptional personal talents. It’s hard to say anything of the like for FDR, whose main asset was his name.”

The cripple who soared above his disability, who dominated his time and the men around him, who inspirited America during the Great Depression and kept it from falling apart, who led the way to victory in World War II—and Mr. Moldbug says he was devoid of exceptional personal talents? This is the sort of statement that could only be made by someone so bigoted against FDR that he is literally blinded to anything positive about him.

“It is well known that Lincoln was a weak president, and FDR was an extremely weak one.”

This is so absurd I can’t be bothered to give a counter argument, except to say, Mencius, my friend, please return to planet Earth.

“To the extent that any one individual was responsible for what came out of the White House under FDR, it was Harry Hopkins.”

Mencius has just given us a perfect gnostic theory of the Roosevelt presidency! Just as the ancient gnostics said that God in Genesis was really a false god who had usurped the place of the real God, and that the world this false god had created was an illusion that prevented men from seeing the real God, who could only be seen by penetrating the cosmic illusion constucted by the false god, Mencius tells us that the common belief that Franklin Roosevelt was leading the U.S. after March 1933 is an illusion and that the real leader of the country during those years was FDR’s assistant Harry Hopkins.

“Essentially, it only becomes VFR around 1950. Until then it seems to be VFL.”

So, according to Mencius, if I support Lincoln’s actions in preserving the Union, if I support FDR’s and Churchill’s actions in defeating Hitler, then I am on the left!

Sadly, all that Mencius has done here is to underscore the case I’ve been making at VFR since 2002: that the anti-war, Old Right, paleocon and Buchananite movement has departed to some gnostic otherworld. And they have done it for the very same reason that has motivated gnostics from ancient times to this very moment: intense dissatisfaction with this world as it is makes them start to believe that this world, the world of common understandings, is an illusion created by a cosmic conspiracy, while the “real” truth—Harry Hopkins was the real holder of presidential power during the Roosevelt years, VFR is on the “left” for supporting the preservation of the Union and the defeat of Hitler—is only known by a tiny handful of those in the know.

And finally this:

“but when you compare Spencer Warren’s FDR to John T. Flynn’s, the difference is much the same as the difference between a saint and an average person.”

Well, Mencius, that’s because Flynn’s judgment of FDR is so damning that a reasonable defense of Roosevelt makes him sound like a saint in comparison! And that’s exactly my point (and was also one of my points in the “Hate-Lincolniana” thread): to the Lincoln haters and the FDR haters, anyone who does not share that hate is a Lincoln worshipper and an FDR hagiographer.

Mencius Moldbug replies:
For just one factual point, the role of Harry Hopkins as FDR’s “deputy President” is neither a mystery nor a conspiracy theory—Robert Sherwood, one of FDR’s speechwriters and a loyal party man, described it in his book Roosevelt and Hopkins. Here is one (mainstream) historian’s summary which I dug up via Google. Note that the hagiographic tone is not at all absent:

Hopkins still lacked an official title, but he had become, in the eyes of many journalists, the “Deputy President.” [ … ] Hopkins came to be called “Roosevelt’s own personal foreign office.” The situation was quite irregular, Sherwood admitted, “but so was the fundamental situation in which the United States found itself at the time.” [ … ] Harry Hopkins’s unprecedented position in the Roosevelt administration, best described as that of a chief of staff, troubled many conservatives, who expressed their desire to prevent such an unofficial and powerful position from ever being refilled. They distrusted Hopkins’s liberal politics and blamed him for what they considered Roosevelt’s unwillingness to resist Soviet demands at Yalta. Even Churchill’s secretary, John Colville, while considering Hopkins “an honourable man and a sincere idealist,” believed that he “trusted the word and goodwill of Stalin to an imprudent extent, as did Roosevelt and the State Department.”

“Chief of staff” is a significant understatement. A modern chief of staff, for example, doesn’t live in the White House.

Larry, with all due respect, I am not sure you are relating to the U.S. Government, especially its past incarnations, as a human organization of humans doing human things. You appear very drawn to what, without any disrespect, one might call the mythic and symbolic character of the institution. Myth and symbol have their place in the world, but it is a two-dimensional place, not a three-dimensional one. The reality behind the pasteboard tends to be much more interesting.

I am not suggesting that you or anyone read Flynn, or Farr, or Beveridge, or Masters, with unquestioning credulity. History does not work this way. If you want to understand the real Washington of the 1930s or the 1860s, both of which were surrounded by enormous tornadoes of spin in their own day and have continued to serve various peoples” agendas up till now, you have to be prepared to try to untangle these competing visions of reality as it actually was. I recommended these historians because, in general, I find them credible. If your perception differs, of course I’d be curious to hear it. But I insist that it is necessary to do the work.

LA replies:

Nothing that you have said or quoted supports your earlier statement that “To the extent that any one individual was responsible for what came out of the White House under FDR, it was Harry Hopkins.” You didn’t merely say that Hopkins was an unprecedentedly powerful chief of staff. You said, or at least strongly suggested, that he was the man running things in the Roosevelt administration, just as people today say that Cheney is really the man in charge and Bush is following his directions.

Mencius continues:

And BTW, it is simply an objective fact that the Union was to the left of the Confederacy, and that FDR was to the left of his Old Right critics. At least, if you don’t agree with this, you have a very different definition of “left” and “right” from both (a) me, and (b) the writers of the 1930s and the 1860s, respectively.

For example, have a look at this 1850 description of the Northern ideology, as represented by Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, one of the two main papers behind the Republicans (the other being the Chicago Tribune). The entire essay (written by a Calhounist) is worth reading. It will certainly enable you to translate your political convictions of 2008 into 1850 terms, although you may not like the result. Here is the actual quote, from page 299:

Among the other elements of evil which have been evolved in the last few years, are the thousand schemes that had been projected mostly in France, by as many sects, each professing to have found a panacea for the appalling spectacles of misery and destitution which present themselves in the large cities of Europe, existing among unexampled wealth, and exhibiting contrasts of misery and luxury overladed with vice and crime, unequalled in the darkest ages. The most fanatical and despotic of these reforming sects are the Fourierites, who meditate nothing less than the total regeneration of society, promising as a consequence the total abolition of vice and misery, and the complete establishment of universal happiness, by means of a free and untrammeled exercise of all the tastes and passions of mankind, which are held as having been conferred by the Almighty to be therefore necessarily good. Included in this scheme is the abolition of Christianity, the marriage ties, and every restraint which at present exists upon the inclinations of the most vicious. This scheme was some years since imported from France, and here, as there, very many vain attempts have been made to introduce it upon a small scale. The New-York Tribune is the organ of the sect, and at least two of its editors have been inmates of a phalanx, which failed.

LA replies:

First, Mencius has fallen into the obvious fallacy of saying that if A is to the left of B., that means that A is on the left or is a man of the left. It is elementary that we must distinguish between relative left and right, and absolute left and right. Let’s say I have a friend who generally agrees with me but whose positions are less right-wing than my own. That doesn’t mean my friend is on the left.

Second, to support the preservation of the Union does not mean that one is endorsing the Republican platform and philosophy. I myself have written that the Whigs, and then the Republicans, represented the universalizing moral and commercial principle that could be seen as the antecedent of neoconservatism. I have also said that the destruction of the society of the Old South was a terrible tragedy and loss to civilization. But Mencius, as is typical of anti-war rightists, seems unable conceptually to separate the necessity and rightness of preserving the Union or of defeating Hitler from the tragic consequences of those things.

As I’ve said a hundred times, paleocons lack a sense of tragedy. They fail to see, for example, that the South through its own fanaticism and madness brought on the war that destroyed it. They are not true conservatives, but victimologists, identifying themselves with the supposedly wholly innocent victim, the South, who was destroyed by the wholly evil and oppressive villain, the North. (Not that Mencius is doing that. I was speaking of a general tendency.)

Third, it is absurd and fallacious to associate the Union cause per se with the radical left ideology described in that passage. There was a wide spectrum of opinion in the Union cause, ranging from conservative Democrats and conservative Republicans like Sherman to moderates like Lincoln and Seward to the abolitionists and radical Republicans like Sumner and Thadeus Stevens. By Mencius’ reasoning, since the Communist Party USA supported the war against Hitler, anyone who supported the war was a supporter of Communism.

Alan Levine writes:

I agree with most of what Gerald M. says, notably his interpretation of Buchanan’s motives. I have heard exactly this explanation from people who have known the man personally for years.

His and Adela Gereth’s estimate of Stalin’s “caution” however, is not entirely correct, although it accurately describes Stalin’s mode of operations (and that of Communist leaders generally) most of the time. Toward the end of his life Stalin seems to have been quite crazy and preparing for an early war with the U.S., which his successors may have averted by killing him. (Though even when he was completely nuts Stalin went about such matters in a more subtle way than Hitler.)

Tom Piatak seems unable to avoid endlessly repeating the theme song about how Poland was betrayed, and this was worse than Munich. That, to be blunt, is absurd. At Munich, the Western powers, in the futile hope of avoiding war, abandoned a fairly strong ally that was ready to defend itself, and then the war broke out anyway and in worse conditions. At Yalta, they made a not very satisfactory agreement about a weak ally already being occupied by the Soviets while in the midst of a war against another alliance. I am mystified, moreover, just how the Declaration on Liberated Europe and the agreement that Poland should have a coalition government and free elections gave “moral cover” to the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe. Stalin had to violate Yalta over and over to do what he did. As for Yalta and Asia, apart from the small matter of the ongoing war, the Western powers did not see how they could deny Stalin what he could easily take from Japan, or even bargain with the Japanese for in return for staying out of the war. The Chinese Nationalists, whatever they said later, at the time regarded bigger concessions than made at Yalta worthwhile if Stalin promised not to aid the Chinese Communists—which of course he did promise, only to (surprise) break his word. It is the optimistic assumption that Stalin would carry out any of his agreements that is bizarre and reprehensible, not the agreements themselves.

Sheldon J. writes (July 2):

On Britain and America joining the Second Thirty Years War against Germany:

Two points: (1) It is barely worthwhile to even consider the causes of WW II since it was merely the second phase of one conflict. The more important point to consider is (2) Why did Britain abandon its traditional ally and embrace its traditional enemies, France and Russia, and why on Earth did America follow Albion into this madness?

Let’s keep in mind that by engaging in WW I the then democratic and profoundly conservative Anglo Saxon countries joined themselves to radical France and Tsarist Russia. Must one also point out that France was (and still is, by the way) not only radical but also imperialistic? What an unlikely and toxic combination is France. Like a chemical somehow both acidic and caustic, it is well to be avoided. I suppose Britain jumped in to protect poor Belgium, a “country” with exactly “one Belgian” citizen, and the previous one citizen was a murderer for ivory in the Congo on a scale unmatched for decades yet to come. It took the rise of Communism, Nazism, and Maoism to match Leopold for volume of blood shed. A wiser head than any on this blog has pointed out that Britain need fear Germany just as much as the shark need fear the tiger and vice versa. The German battle fleet was an expensive and annoying trinket, but had Germany, after a millennium or more of relative passivity, suddenly somehow become an expansive restive power anxious to challenge the prevailing Lion of the Sea and world hegemon? Hardly, but were the capitalists of Britain worried about the rise of German industry and its inexpensive products flooding into their perversely open markets? That’s far more likely. A modest tariff and the immodest Grand Fleet would have secured Britain for generations still to come.

America had even less interest in this or any European civil war. As Lincoln pointed out (in those longed-for years before open borders) no foreign army could ever water its horses in the Ohio (or even the Hudson). I cannot really imagine Britain, without access to military thinkers of the caliber of our Wolfowitz and Feith, finding commanders so inept as to allow an invasion of their home islands for the first time in 848 years. Given that completely unlikely event, now imagine the German High Seas Fleet fighting its way across the Atlantic against the combined American, Canadian, and remaining British navies and landing what? a starving and bereft platoon or a squad, where? on a desolate spit of sand near Hatteras perhaps. Alarms, to arms, by all means call out the Dare county sheriff’s patrol, but go to war against Germany to save France and Russia and their squalid empires, maybe not.

LA replies:

I am not hostile to the idea that a German victory in the First War would have been acceptable and would have meant no Second War, as I’ve often had that thought myself (though I don’t have a definite opinion on the matter). But by 1939, the catastrophe of the First War, as well as The Follies of the Victors from 1919 to 1938, were in the past. Western leaders had to deal with the present problem, which was Hitler.

(Note: This thread has reached its maximum size and the discussion is contnued in a new entry.)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 27, 2008 08:05 PM | Send

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