Tuesday, September 01, 2009

In the Year of '39

Pat Buchanan

Today is the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the Second World War.

It's a subject that I can ramble on endlessly about (I was going to say "on which I can endlessly ramble," but that is nonsense up with which you should not put). Anyway, being something of a WW2 maven, in much the same way some others are Civil War buffs, I know can generate endless boring and pointlessly repetitive bits on the subject. But I'm of a mind to spare you the long, rambling reflection and moralization on human evil that people tend to write on such occasions.

It strikes me as, on the whole, a pointless exercise. To begin with, since WW2 lasted exactly six years (September 1, 1939 - September 1, 1945), that means that through a cycle of ten years, beginning with a year ending in '9', we can have a long hash of "[10 x nth] anniversary" stories, with a four year break, and then start the cycle all over again. Next year, we'll ruminate on the "Seventieth Anniversary of the Fall of France," the year after, the "Seventieth Anniversary of Pearl Harbor" or of "The Invasion of the USSR," the year after that, "The Seventieth Anniversary of the Fall of Stalingrad..." etc.

And on September 1, 2019, we can start the whole thing over again.

So I normally wouldn't want to comment; enough is being said by better keyboards than mine on the subject.

I do, however, have to take singular notice of a, well, Baby Ruth bar in the punch bowl: the execrable Pat Buchanan's latest screed, published today on several Conservative web sites, wherein he tries to portray Hitler as having been checkmated into a war he (Hitler) didn't really want, by a conspiracy of the leaders of the allied nations. And naturally he used today's anniversary as his 'hook'.

I, a conservative Republican, a veteran, and an amateur historian, want to spit in Pat's face.

Buchanan has held the rank of General Annoyance since the 1990s, starting with his anti-Jewish* accusation that "only the Israeli Defense ministry and its amen corner in the United States" wanted war to free Kuwait. Then, in '92, he almost singlehandedly handed victory to the Clintonoids with his abominable "Culture War" speech at the GOP convention. Yeah, yeah, I know that H. Ross Perot's third party candidacy was what truly doomed us (I was there!) but Pat gave us the first push.

Since then, senile dementia has clearly advanced to the point where he has become an open sewer of Nazi revisionism. His latest essay is the worst yet in a long and horrendous series.

I leave it to the reader to schlog through his rant, but let me address the heart of his essay: there is but one, and only one, source of the start of the Second World War. It wasn't economic competition, it wasn't demographic change, it wasn't the unfinished business of the First World War. And it sure as God wasn't the Allies plotting against Germany.

The Second World War makes sense ONLY as the personal and irretrievable decision of one very evil man to try to conquer the world. That man was Adolf Hitler. Nobody else.

Had Hitler (ymach shemo, as the Orthodox Jews say) taken a bullet on the Western Front in WWI at one of the several dozen battles of Ypres, war would still likely have eventually come between Europe and Stalin's Russia sometime by 1950 or so; Stalin wudn't exactly no nice guy. But that war would have taken a much, much different path, and quite possibly would have ended with far fewer casualties than the "Fifty million Christians and Jews" that Pat cites (he sooooo can't make himself say 'Six million Jews'!). Furthermore, had that alternative war occurred, it is possible that the European Jewish community, the lost crown jewel of Western civilization, might still live (even though Israel might never have been founded).

But the war came when it did, and how it did, entirely because Adolf Hitler his own self decided that he wanted to start war then and there, on September 1, 1939. The writing finger writes, and having writ, moves on: responsibility for the commencement of the was Hitler's, and Hitler's alone. (Although admittedly he had a lot of willing executioners.)

I do know that the "Great Man" theory is out of fashion among serious historians. But. Policy decisions are ultimately made by individuals or very, very small groups of individuals. They are not made by an entire people.

That war had to come at all is the fault of other "great" (ha) men: Chamberlain, and his predecessor Baldwin, prime ministers of Britain. who sat on their hands for five years, letting the march of events build to the bloody climax we remember this day. The French, having had their guts torn out at Verdun, refused to stop the rearmament of the Rhine in '36 and paid for it with the German victory parade of '40. Lesser players also contributed, to their stature: the strategic twits in charge of Poland refused to ask for Russian help when it mattered; the cowardly King Leopold of Belgium pulled out of his alliance with the French and British before the war even began, ensuring the fall of the West when the invasion came; Kurt Schuschnigg , dictator of Austria, let himself be browbeaten into surrender; Stalin himself nearly bought his own destruction by the pact he signed with Hitler in '39. And Roosevelt, constrained by an American people made frenetically anti-war by a pacifist-leftist press, could do nothing but listen to the radio.

But when it came to the moment, the decision to go to war was Hitler's. It lay nowhere else. Had he decided no war in '39, war in '39 would never have happened. And he had made that decision as early as 1937, as the Nuremberg indictments clearely showed. Others helped ("quiet men in well lit offices" indeed) but in the end, it came down to one man. And he wanted war more than anything.

I truly know not why Pat has fallen into this mindset. It's clear that he hasn't read a line of historical commentary on the subject since 1960. His arguments come primarily from the 1961 first edition of A.J.P. Taylor's Origins of the Second World War--a book that came out before the existence of the Enigma and Magic decrypts completely revolutionized scholarship on the subject, and which was subsequently substantively revised based on the new information. Hey, Pat--1961 is (alas!) fifty years ago. Time to do some more reading on the subject Patrick.

But obsolete scholarship only explains so much. It takes real animus to be so aggressively wrong about a subject. And whence this animus?

There is an old joke. "Go easy on Pat Buchanan. He lost a relative in the Holocaust, you know. One of his uncles fell out of a guard tower."

A joke, yes. But not really very funny. And it explains much. Either his madness on the subject arises from old-fashioned judenhass -- or dementia. I'd like to think it was dementia, which is (almost) honorable and forgivable. Judenhass is neither.

But whatever the cause, the effect of Pitchfork Pat's verbage at this time is akin to a man poking holes in the bottom of a lifeboat to allow the water in the boat to drain out. He does nothing but make Lord Hopenchange more believable when he portrays conservatives as fascists. This day, Pat's the last guy we need on our team. Send him back to the minors, his career is over.

Pat, your fifteen minutes are long past.

Soon you will go to meet your God, and leave behind only your reputation.

For the sake of that reputation, and ours, please, please, please:

Shut the f--- up!


*Although "Anti-Semitic" is the term of art, I use anti-Jewish, as it is pretty clear from his writings of the last few years that Pat hates the Jews and has never forgiven them.... for what, I don't know, but he clearly hasn't forgiven them.

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