Thursday, June 26, 2008

Buchanan Just Wrong

Pat Buchanan recently published a book in which he argues that their was no need to fight World War II. He suggests that most of Hitler's "grievances" were legitimate correctives of the Versailles Treaty. He further argues that Hitler's real enemy was the Soviet Union. Had the western powers not intervened, Poland would have ceded Danzig to Germany and allied with Germany against the Soviets.

This thesis has led many to condemn Buchanan as an anti Semite and a closet Nazi. In reality it is just the old isolationist mantra. It's not our business and bad things happen when we don't mind our own business. Further, the Nazi charge leads many to simply not examine Buchanan's thesis. That is intellectually weak.

So what would have happened if Poland had been left to its fate? In the short term Buchanan is probably correct. But as those in Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and the like quickly learned, to be allied with Hitler was to be Hitler's slave. In addition, this might well have allowed Germany to defeat the Soviet Union, making it much more powerful. Wouldn't Hitler have been satisfied with his conquests in the east? Buchanan believes that he would have. Further, it would have destroyed communism as a force in world affairs. But there is a fly in the ointment. In the unpublished Mein Kampf II, Hitler makes it clear that he believed that he needed to defeat the west and in particular, the United States. Let's say that a victorious Germany turns west in 1943 or 1944? What a world war that would be! A Germany that had twice the navy and ten times the U-Boats. A Germany that was close to V-2 and even v-3 rockets. (V-3's could have hit New York.) A Germany that would have the industrial might of the Soviet Union and their excellent tank and artillery technology. A Germany that would have been close to having that atomic bomb. It's a terrifying thought indeed. I believe that if we had done as Buchanan suggests, I would be writing this in German.

There are two other possible outcomes which cannot be dismissed. Hitler suffered from Syphilis and was a Meth Amphetamine addict. It appears that he may well have died by 1946 or 1947. If he was victorious in the east, with his declining health, he may have forgone the war in the west. The other possibility would be that Germany and the Soviets would fight to a draw and so drain one another's strength that Germany could not have fought a war in the west. But I don't believe that Churchill could risk either outcome. And he didn't know about Hilter's health problems in any event. So I think the west was correct in drawing a line in the sand and making a stand.

The problems of World War II are complex and will continue to be studied. Buchanan may have in fact made a contribution to that process. But I believe his basis thesis, that World War II was unnecessary, is simply wrong.

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