Respectful Insolence

Pat Buchanan: Hitler apologist

As I mentioned the other day, September 1 marked the 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland and the “official” start of World War II. I say “official’ because the invasion of Poland marked the beginning of a true shooting war in Europe after a long period of escalating tensions and increasingly brazen provocations by the Nazi regime, culminating in March 1939 with its invasion of what parts of Czechoslovakia Britain and France hadn’t already given it in the Munich Agreement from the prior year. Because of mutual defense pacts signed earlier, which declared that an attack on any of the three signatories (Poland, Britain, and France), Hitler’s invasion drew Britain and France into war with Germany. Both dutifully declared war 70 years ago today, on September 3, 1939, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, at least if you care about history.

If you’re Pat Buchanan, of course, you never let a little thing like history stop you from a good opportunity to try to paint Hitler as being on OK guy and to explain how Adolf Hitler didn’t really want war and he was just a poor, misunderstood guy forced to fight by those nefarious Allies, who were unreasonable and wouldn’t give him what he wanted. Sadly, Buchanan never misses an opportunity to try to convince people that Hitler was really not interested in war, and the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland provides him with yet another opportunity to do just that–again–with an article entitled Did Hitler Want War? After slapping down a particularly stupid Holocaust denier the other day, I hadn’t planned on writing about Holocaust denial again for a while. Little did I know that I’d end up seeing the big macher of Hitler apologia launching into another of his nonsensical and ahistorical tracts:

On Sept. 1, 1939, 70 years ago, the German Army crossed the Polish frontier. On Sept. 3, Britain declared war.

Six years later, 50 million Christians and Jews had perished. Britain was broken and bankrupt, Germany a smoldering ruin. Europe had served as the site of the most murderous combat known to man, and civilians had suffered worse horrors than the soldiers.

By May 1945, Red Army hordes occupied all the great capitals of Central Europe: Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin. A hundred million Christians were under the heel of the most barbarous tyranny in history: the Bolshevik regime of the greatest terrorist of them all, Joseph Stalin.

What cause could justify such sacrifices?

Gee, I get the feeling that Buchanan is about to argue that World War II wasn’t worth the sacrifices it took to destroy the Third Reich, don’t you? Also, note the clever way he describes the people who perished. He doesn’t say “50 million people had perished.” Rather, he said “50 million Christians and Jews [emphasis mine] had perished.” It’s a non-so-subtle ploy among those who don’t much like Jews to try to remind people that, you know, Hitler killed Christians, too. In fact, given that Hitler “only” killed six million Jews, that means Christians must have taken the brunt of Hitler’s fury. In terms of sheer numbers, there’s no doubt that most of the dead were Christian. However, as a percentage of prewar population, the number of Jewish dead far outstrips any other group, mainly because Hitler meant what he said when he proclaimed the Jew the mortal enemy of the Reich and promised a war of extermination. No doubt Pat would say I’m being unfair, but I don’t think so. If he didn’t mean to minimize Jewish suffering during World War II, why did he make such a point of saying “Christians and Jews” instead of just “people”?

Consider the context, as well. Buchanan goes on to describe how Danzig was a flashpoint of conflict between Germany and Poland leading up to the war. He apparently can’t understand the difference between what Hitler said was the reason for his invasion of Poland and what was really behind the invasion. Here’s Buchanan’s highly one-sided version of the Danzig conflict:

The German-Polish war had come out of a quarrel over a town the size of Ocean City, Md., in summer. Danzig, 95 percent German, had been severed from Germany at Versailles in violation of Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination. Even British leaders thought Danzig should be returned.

Why did Warsaw not negotiate with Berlin, which was hinting at an offer of compensatory territory in Slovakia? Because the Poles had a war guarantee from Britain that, should Germany attack, Britain and her empire would come to Poland’s rescue.

But why would Britain hand an unsolicited war guarantee to a junta of Polish colonels, giving them the power to drag Britain into a second war with the most powerful nation in Europe?

Was Danzig worth a war? Unlike the 7 million Hong Kongese whom the British surrendered to Beijing, who didn’t want to go, the Danzigers were clamoring to return to Germany.

Apparently Pat never read Mein Kampf. Either that, or, more likely, he did read it but, as so many fundamentalists do with the Bible, decided to ignore the bits he didn’t like. While it is true that Hitler fantasized about an alliance with Britain, which he admired, Mein Kampf laid out a stepwise progression for Germany’s return to power. This was referred to by one of the translators of Mein Kampf as the Stufenplan (stage-by-stage plan). The first step was to form alliances with Britain and Italy; the second step was to wage war on France and its Eastern European allies, the most prominent of which was Poland; and the third step was to invade destroy the “Judeo-Bolshevist” regime in Russia and thereby obtain Lebensraum (“living space”) for the German volk.

It also just so happens that I’m in the midst of reading Richard J. Evans’ magisterial three volume history of the Third Reich. Here is a telling passage from the second volume, The Third Reich in Power, describing the buildup to war in Poland:

On 23 May 1939 Hitler told military leaders, including Göring, Halder, and Raeder, that “further successes cannot be won without bloodshed.”

“It is not Danzig that is at stake,” he went on. “For us it is a matter of expanding our living-space to the east and making food supplies secure…If fate forces us into a showdown with the West it is a good idea to possess a largish area in the East. It was necessary, therefore, to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity. Hitler conceded that Britain and France might come to Poland’s aid. “England is therefore our enemy and the showdown with England is a matter of life and death.” If possible, Poland would perish alone and unaided. But in the longer run, war with England and France was inevitable. “England is the motive force driving against Germany.” It was to be hoped that such a war would be short. But it was well to prepare, he said, for a war lasting ten to fifteen years. “Time will decide against England.” If Holland, Belgium, and France were occupied, English cities bombed, and overseas supplies cut off by a maritime and airborne blockade, England would bleed to death. However, Germany would probably not be ready of the conflict for another five years he added. German policy in 1939 therefore had to isolate Poland as far as possible and to ensure that the coming military action did not lead immediately to a general European war.

Indeed, by March 1939, Hitler had already mostly decided upon invading Poland. He had even set the date for August or September 1939. Then he cleverly set about trying to isolate Poland. The most cynical part of his strategy was the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, which was negotiated and signed in August 1939. Part of that pact was a secret protocol whereby, if Stalin didn’t interfere with Hitler’s conquest of Poland, he would get the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), and Poland was to be divided between the two nations along the Narew, Vistula, and San rivers. Thus, when Hitler invaded on September 1, 1939, the Soviet Union did nothing; nothing, that is, until September 17, when it invaded Poland from the East.

But in Pat’s world, Lebensraum means nothing. Hitler’s proclamations, dating back to the 1920s, that Germany needed Lebensraum in the East mean nothing. No, it was those nasty Poles’ fault for not turning Danzig over to Hitler, and it was those horrible Brits’ and Frogs’ fault for being pissed off at having been played the fools at Munich a year earlier and therefore not wanting to give in to Hitler any more. How unreasonable! It couldn’t possibly be that Hitler used Danzig as one (of several) pretexts for invading Poland, at least not to Pat! It couldn’t possibly have been that the Nazi Party in Danzig had been staging incidents and violence for propaganda value, could it? Perish the thought! It couldn’t possibly be that Goebbels had grotesquely exaggerated stories of oppression by the Poles, in which Poles were allegedly murdering ethnic Germans or even shooting at random passers-by, were fiction, could it? Not to Pat. Pat apparently can’t believe that Hitler would never lie about such things. Or anything, for that matter, apparently.

After all, Hitler had been such a nice guy to Czechoslovakia. Pat tells us so:

After Munich in 1938, Czechoslovakia did indeed crumble and come apart. Yet consider what became of its parts.

The Sudeten Germans were returned to German rule, as they wished. Poland had annexed the tiny disputed region of Teschen, where thousands of Poles lived. Hungary’s ancestral lands in the south of Slovakia had been returned to her. The Slovaks had their full independence guaranteed by Germany. As for the Czechs, they came to Berlin for the same deal as the Slovaks, but Hitler insisted they accept a protectorate.

Now one may despise what was done, but how did this partition of Czechoslovakia manifest a Hitlerian drive for world conquest?

My goodness, Pat sure does like the straw men. By 1938, it wasn’t world conquest by Germany that European leaders were worried about but rather European conquest, a not unreasonable fear at all, particularly given that all it took was reading Hitler’s book to know that, at least in Eastern Europe, he wanted space and lots of it. Indeed, one reason that Stalin agreed to a non-aggression pact with Hitler was because he knew war was likely but feared that the Red Army was in no shape to face the Third Reich. In other words, Stalin was playing for time. And if he got a little taste of eastern Poland to absorb into his empire, well, that was just an added bonus.

Buchanan also confuses military incompetence with not wanting war:

But if Hitler was out to conquer the world — Britain, Africa, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, South America, India, Asia, Australia — why did he spend three years building that hugely expensive Siegfried Line to protect Germany from France? Why did he start the war with no surface fleet, no troop transports and only 29 oceangoing submarines? How do you conquer the world with a navy that can’t get out of the Baltic Sea?

If Hitler wanted the world, why did he not build strategic bombers, instead of two-engine Dorniers and Heinkels that could not even reach Britain from Germany?

Why did he let the British army go at Dunkirk?

Why did he offer the British peace, twice, after Poland fell, and again after France fell?

Why, when Paris fell, did Hitler not demand the French fleet, as the Allies demanded and got the Kaiser’s fleet? Why did he not demand bases in French-controlled Syria to attack Suez? Why did he beg Benito Mussolini not to attack Greece?

Ethan Porter addresses this idiotic argument quite well, namely by pointing out that Hitler had megalomaniacal ambitions, but his talent as a military strategist left much to be desired.

Moreover, Buchanan once again falls for Hitler’s propaganda. The Siegfried Line, after all, served more of a propaganda purpose than any real military purpose. For one thing, it was started in part as a make-work program like the Autobahn, designed to put hundreds of thousands of Germans back to work. For another thing, it proclaimed Germany’s defensive intentions to its neighbors, while at the same time serving the purpose of protecting Hitler’s rear when he finally did turn his military attention to the East.

Other questions are more clearly a matter of poor planning. For instance, German military strategy was ahead of its time in that it emphasized close coordination between light bombers and infantry. That’s part of what allowed them to pioneer Blitzkrieg invasions, which worked so well in Poland and then later in France and Western Europe. The problem is that the bombers and fighters that were so effective in a Blitzkrieg were not nearly as effective at bombing strategic targets. Hitler didn’t demand the French fleet because he was in a magnanimous mood, and the armistice agreement stipulated that the French fleet would be largely disarmed and confined to its harbors under French control. That’s one reason why the British attacked the French fleet in Algeria at Mers-el-Kébir. Moreover, the French were not amenable to giving up their fleet, as evidenced later when, rather than let it be taken by the Germans, the French fleet in Toulon was scuttled on November 27, 1942 on the order of the Admiralty of Vichy France. The Germans couldn’t just “take” the French fleet because France would not easily permit it, and an attempt to do so might have destroyed the armistice and led to widespread resistance.

Finally, the reasons that Hitler backed off at Dunkirk and thus let most of the British Expeditionary Force escape are multiple, but they included his believing the boasts of Goring that his planes would finish it off and his being urged by one of his generals to give the troops a respite before re-engaging. There was also an element of politics in that Hitler also saw this as an opportunity to assert his control over his generals. Whatever the full reasons, by the time Hitler resumed the attack, the evacuation was well under way, and weary German troops had a hard time overcoming the resistance of the rearguard defending the evacuation. In any case, why shouldn’t he offer peace after he had conquered Poland? He already had what he wanted!

Apparently history was never Buchanan’s strong point. Indeed, get a load of this howler with which Buchanan answers all his rhetorical questions above:

Because Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps.

That’s right. To Buchanan, if Britain and France hadn’t allied themselves with Poland and then actually honored their commitment after Hitler invaded to take what Germany was due but that those stubborn Poles, confidence buoyed by their alliance with France and Britain, refused to give up, then the Holocaust would never have happened. The implication is that the Holocaust was all France’s and Britain’s fault! Now there’s real Holocaust revisionism!

Pardon me while I barf.

Leave it to Mel Brooks to get it exactly right:

Mel knows his history better than Pat.

You know, I’m dreading 2011. We’ll be hitting the 70th anniversary of so many other key events of World War II: Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union (June 22) and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7). I just can’t wait to see an article by Pat on June 22, 2011 proclaiming how Hitler really had no choice but to invade the Soviet Union to save Europe from Bolshevism or an article on December 7, 2011 stating that Hitler wasn’t really our enemy and that we shouldn’t have declared war on Germany after its ally launched a sneak attack and Hitler declared war on the U.S. himself on December 8. After all, I seem to recall he’s already argued that Roosevelt shouldn’t have concentrated on Germany first more than Japan.

Next, poor ol’ Pat will be saying the Holocaust was America’s fault for not teaming up with Hitler to fight the Soviet Union. Poor misunderstood Hitler! Those nasty Jews, with the help of the Allies, forced him to kill six million of them! But Pat understands. He’s the only one who understands that Hitler really had no choice.

Comments

  1. #1 Bob O'H
    September 3, 2009

    Ouch. Ouch. Poor Pat.

    Stalin agreed to a non-aggression pact with Hitler was because he knew war was likely but feared that the Red Army was in no shape to face the Third Reich.

    Which was a reasonable fear: in 1938 they weren’t even in a fit shape to face Finland.

  2. #2 Ramel
    September 3, 2009

    One of my great uncles was in that rearguard at Dunkirk, if he was still alive he would be pretty angry with anyone who suggested the Germans just let them go.

  3. #3 hat_eater
    September 3, 2009

    What a difference from a younger Pat:
    “Almost alone among European statesmen, Churchill saw that — under the guise of restoring Germany to her rightful place among nations — Hitler was marching along the road toward a New Order where Western civilization would not survive.”
    http://www.realchange.org/hitler.htm
    I guess it’s time to shut up, Mr. Buchanan.

  4. #4 eta c
    September 3, 2009

    Of note, the US didn’t declare war on Germany after Pearl Harbor. The declaration of war on December 8 was against Japan alone. Germany declared war on the US first. Some speculate on what would have happened if Hitler had held back and forced Roosevelt to try and get Congress to declare war on Germany. Of course, revisionists will just claim that the actual sequence of events was all part of Roosevelt & Churchill’s nefarious plan to drag the US into the war.

  5. #5 Orac
    September 3, 2009

    I’m quite aware of the order of events after Pearl Harbor (I slightly altered the end of the post to make that clear, though, because perhaps I didn’t make it clear enough); part of the reason I mentioned Pearl Harbor is because I don’t think it matters to Buchanan that Hitler overreached and declared war first. The smart thing for him to have done would, of course, have been not to declare war on the U.S. Then Roosevelt would have had a hell of a time convincing Congress to go along with declaring war and with his “Germany first” policy. People were pissed and wanted revenge on Japan. They wanted to concentrate on Japan, who attacked us, first.

  6. #6 Christophe Thill
    September 3, 2009

    “If Hitler wanted the world, why did he not build strategic bombers, instead of two-engine Dorniers and Heinkels that could not even reach Britain from Germany?”

    That’s weird. Didn’t the bombers that destroyed Coventry fly out of Germany?

    Also let’s not forget that the Versailles treaty forbade Germany to have an army or a military industry. Germany was effectively demilitarized until 1936, apart from some developments made by Messerschmitt and others under the pretext of “sport planes”. Overcoming the technological problems of a long-range heavy bomber had to take a few years…

  7. #7 Bob
    September 3, 2009

    “stating that Hitler wasn’t really our enemy and that we shouldn’t have declared war on Germany after its ally launched a sneak attack.”

    The U.S. declared war on Germany only after Hitler first declared war on the U.S.

  8. #8 David
    September 3, 2009

    nice work, Orac. Pat B deserves everything you dish out. I’m particularly appalled at the “50 million christians and jews” and also the “hundred million Christians were under the heel of the most barbarous tyranny in history.” Pat knows what the war was about – it was just like the modern war on Christmas.

  9. #9 Ahistoricality
    September 3, 2009

    the US didn’t declare war on Germany after Pearl Harbor.

    Well, they sure didn’t declare it before Pearl Harbor. Persnickity twits…. [I say that knowing full well that many consider me to be a persnickity twit, as well]

    As I said elsewhere, the only thing distinguishing this from Buchanan’s earlier historical revisionism, Nazi apologias and absurdities is the lack of subtlety: the arguments, themes and implications are the same as he’s been peddling for years.

  10. #10 NoAstronomer
    September 3, 2009

    “That’s weird. Didn’t the bombers that destroyed Coventry fly out of Germany? ”

    No. They mostly flew out of France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The bombers could reach deep into England from Germany, but with a much-reduced bombload.

    But the real answer to Pat’s question is that the Luftwaffe was primarily geared to support ground operations. And it was extremely successful in that role. After all why build a four-engined bomber to attack your enemies factories when your armoured divisions can just drive to them?

    “50 million Christians and Jews had perished.”

    This statement is totally inaccurate simply because a very large number of those 50 million were Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus.

    “Because Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps.”

    Of course he would. I would too. By January 1940 Hitler had control over the manufacturing capability of essentially all of Central Europe with almost no effort. Had Britain and France not resisted then, in June 1941 the force allocated to Barbarossa would have been *considerably* larger. No campaigns in Norway, France, Greece, Yugoslavia. No Battle of Britain. The Soviet Union *would* have fallen.

    Finally just because the trains weren’t rolling until 1942 doesn’t mean the Holocaust hadn’t started. From Martin Gilbert’s excellent The Second World War :

    September 3rd 1939, in the Polish town of Wieruszow, Liebe Lewi is murdered by German troops (presumably an einsatzgruppe) for protesting the round up of her father, Israel, and 19 other Jews. Those twenty are then also shot.

    Mike.

  11. #11 SLC
    September 3, 2009

    Actually, the biggest strategic error Hitler made before WW 2 was the decision to build the battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz, not realizing that the battleship as a navel weapon was obsolete. Had he used the labor, materials, and seaman which were dedicated to the battleships to instead build submarines, instead have having a dozen subs available after the fall of France, he could have had 50 or 60. Given the state of British antisubmarine defenses in June, 1940, 50 or 60 submarines would have been more then adequate to blockade Britain and starve her out of the war within 3 or 4 months.

  12. #12 hat_eater
    September 3, 2009

    Before this turns into a fascinating historical discussion, I’d like to point out that nobody who had a battleship – even a pocket one – pointed at his navel would call it obsolete.
    I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist.

  13. #13 mad the swine
    September 3, 2009

    So, according to Pat, Neville Chamberlain ought to be reviled, not for appeasing Hitler, but for not appeasing Hitler enough. Wow.

  14. #14 Mike H
    September 3, 2009

    Hmmm, I guess his next move is to go on a book tour with Norman Finkelstein.

  15. #15 NoAstronomer
    September 3, 2009

    @SLC

    Navel weapons have always been nothing more than a niche. Sorry couldn’t resist. That is a good point you make. However the mere existence of the Tirpitz and the Bismark force the Royal Navy to keep most of their battle-fleet, and their escort, in home waters until late 1944.

  16. #16 Dave
    September 3, 2009

    @SLC, @hat_eater, @NoAstronomer:

    Hey, that’s enough navel-gazing for one day. Shape up or ship out.

  17. #17 peter
    September 3, 2009

    The first one to enjoy the hospitality of the SS and concentration Camps were not jews. The “endloesung” came much later with the building of extermination camps in contrast to concentration camps.
    My grandfather spent in the mid thirties time in a concentration camp (Berg am Moor) – which basically were internment camps to collect all “undesirables”, meaning politicians, journalists, trade unionists etc., everybody opposed to the “machtergreifung”.

    It is well to remind people that there were those in Germany opposing Hitler and suffering sometimes severely for it, and this fact alone makes Buchanans idiotic statements an insult especially to he memory of those who saw and understood what Hitler’s policies were leading to before any of the future allied forces could comprehend this.

    After all – there were enough of those capitalists in the US linked with German industrialists that were just too glad to support Hitler and his gang financially.
    http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/wall_street/ a well documented book on those connections
    and background http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_C._Sutton

  18. #18 Harve
    September 3, 2009

    One of Pat’s points (The Unnecssary War) was that the true warmonger who started WWII was Churchill, and that Roosevelt’s timing was just right and saved American lives. The shocking implication of Pat’s ideas is that the Allies should have left the Slavs to the Reich’s plans to kill the Russian population and use their bodies as fertilizer for the soil of the lebensraum needed by German small farmers. Pat & Hitler apparently thought the Slavs deserved this because they were communists.

  19. #19 spudbeach
    September 3, 2009

    OK, this is “pile on Pat Buchanan” time. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

    Like “Noastronomer” in #10, I have to object to the “50 million Christians and Jews” line. The hardest hit country, the USSR, was mostly atheist (at least officially). Japan and China were also hard hit, but with very few Christians or Jews.*

    But I think Buchanan gives away his motivation for ignoring reality with the “Christian and Jews” bit. He really is just a culture warrior, using his same old tired shtick. His biggest objection to WWII was not how many people died, or the terrible devastation, or the sheer stupidity of it, but the fact that it left an atheistic communist country powerful at the end.

    The guy just can’t get away from his anti-communist bias, and he’ll twist any facts necessary to get his way. Heck, he’ll probably argue that the communists started it all anyway with the Richstag fire!

    [* See here for a quick estimate of deaths by country.]

  20. #20 Anthony
    September 3, 2009

    It’s also worth pointing out that a lot of those 50 million people were neither Christian nor Jewish; there were somewhere around 20 million people killed in Southeast Asia.

  21. #21 James Sweet
    September 3, 2009

    A couple of nitpicks:

    1) Responding to #19, Russia may have been officially “atheist” but it is a good bet that many of those killed still believed in Eastern Orthodoxy or some other traditional religion.

    2) Although Russia was officially “atheist”, I do not consider Stalinism to be an atheistic philosophy. I have blogged about it at this link back in July. I know I’m verging on a “No True Scotsman” pronouncement here, but I mention this because I do not see any reasonable taxonomy which would put Stalinism and secular humanism in the same category. To say that they are both forms of “atheism” requires a definition of atheism that I think is both useless and absurd.

  22. #22 Nomen Nescio
    September 3, 2009

    But it was well to prepare, he said, for a war lasting ten to fifteen years. “Time will decide against England.”

    not being much of a history buff, i hadn’t realized he was that bad of a strategist. but, wow, that’s a pretty basic error right there; i guess he hadn’t bothered to read Sun Tzu.

  23. #23 Colugo
    September 3, 2009

    Unfortunately, Buchanan is not the only high profile, “respectable” (barf) WWII revisionist. Not long ago a book called Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker was published and favorably reviewed by many on the left of center. And then there is Gore Vidal, Pearl Harbor ‘truther.’ Zinn is another Pearl Habor revisionist, if somewhat less conspiracy-minded than Vidal. All of them characterize FDR and Churchill as imperialist warmongers who dragged us into WWII, the unnecessary war.

    Many of the same critics who are indignantly outraged by Buchanan (and he deserves all of the condemnation, and more) can’t spare any criticism for Baker, Vidal, and Zinn.

  24. #24 Patrick Spens
    September 3, 2009

    I realize this is a pretty serious derail, so if people want me to stop I’m willing too.

    To say that they are both forms of “atheism” requires a definition of atheism that I think is both useless and absurd.

    You aren’t just verging on “No True Scotsman” here. The definition necessary to consider both ‘Stalinism’ and secular humanism atheist is, “lack of belief in supernatural entities.” That is neither absurd or useless, and it’s quite a good deal less self-serving than your definition of God.

    Honestly God has to be infallible and omnipotent? What, was Hermes not a god? Thor? Hell, most Hindu deities aren’t omnipotent.

    Atheism is not a synonym for rationality or intelligence, it is one belief. And there is no guarantee that a system of thought that gets one thing right is going to get every thing else right.

    P.S. Stalinism? Do you call late German Fascism “Hitlerism” and Juche “Kimism”

  25. #25 Patrick Spens
    September 3, 2009

    Sorry

    “To say that they are both forms of “atheism” requires a definition of atheism that I think is both useless and absurd.”

    Was supposed to be in quotes, I suck at HTML

  26. #26 Clay
    September 3, 2009

    I don’t mean to change the subject, and I certainly don’t mean to trivialize the war or the Holocaust, but while reading “Did Hitler Want War?” I couldn’t help but marvel at the way Buchanan’s mind works, and note the similarity to the Mitchellian mind machinations that prevent him from seeing the eugenic goal of Autism Speaks. To him, I’m sure, “Just because the wife of the Founder has expressed the desire to eradicate autism, that doesn’t mean the the organization, as a whole, would actually do such a thing if it were within their power.”

    I’ll bet anyone 10 to 1 that Jon Mitchell believes that Pat Buchanan is a great man, and we’d all be better off if he had become President. Small minds think alike, too.

  27. #27 Helena
    September 3, 2009

    As for Chamberlain.

    Its recently become clear from new research and declassified documents, that Chamberlain was not really a duped appeaser. Rather, his military told him they would not be ready for war until 1942 and he was trying to buy that much time. He was perfectly aware he was sacrificing his career.

  28. #28 LovleAnjel
    September 3, 2009

    This is better than the History Channel. Probably more accurate, too.

    @24 I think the issue is more about secular humanists being conflated with communists. We don’t want that paintbrush anywhere near us. It’s like solely defining a Christian as “one who believes in Jesus”, which puts the Manson Family in with the Episcopals.

  29. #29 barkdog
    September 3, 2009

    Pat is amazing. Even AJP Taylor, about as close as you can get to a respectable apologist for Hitler’s foreign policy (AJPT made no bones about denouncing the dictatorship itself) makes it plain that Hitler was looking for war in 1939, having been cheated of it in 1938. AJPT claimed that Hitler needed short victorious wars for propaganda purposes and to satisfy his ego. Germany’s evident lack of preparation for a protracted war on several fronts supports the idea that WWII was the unintended result of a miscalculation. Hitler expected the western powers to back off at the last minute and let him have a romp in the park. There are a lot of problems with old AJPT, but I think that he got that one right.

  30. #30 Greg F.
    September 3, 2009

    Pat has always been a racist, an anti-Semite and as close to a fascist as one can get. He represents the very worst of what the political right has to offer and making apologies for a bloodthirsty sociopath with delusions of grandeur so great, he’s become one of the world’s greatest and a virtually universally despised human, is downright disgusting.

    I would really appreciate it if Pat crawled back under the slime-infested rock from which he came. If he wrote an article like that in Europe, he would become public enemy number one for a very good reason. My grandfather fought the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Listening to a right wing hack with head head far enough up his colon to visually inspect his dinner being digested tell us that Hitler didn’t want war is like watching a skinhead paint a swastika on a synagogue.

    But hey, I’m sure he’ll acquire even more of a loyal audience on Stormfront and among other white supremacists. His speeches have always been popular with them.

  31. #31 Patrick Spens
    September 3, 2009

    @28 Yeah I’m not happy whenever someone pulls the “Well what about Communist Russia? They did bad things too.” line with me either.

    But trying to make Atheism more than a lack of belief in God seems A) false B) likes it’s giving credulance to people who call atheism a religion C) Skewing priorities. As I said before, while athiesm may be the result of rational thinking, it’s not the same thing.

  32. #32 PalMD
    September 3, 2009

    Orac, thank you for this marvelous takedown of a dangerous antisemitic holocaust denying asshole.

  33. #33 Chris Krolczyk
    September 3, 2009

    spudbeach:

    But I think Buchanan gives away his motivation for ignoring reality with the “Christian and Jews” bit. He really is just a culture warrior, using his same old tired shtick. His biggest objection to WWII was not how many people died, or the terrible devastation, or the sheer stupidity of it, but the fact that it left an atheistic communist country powerful at the end.

    You think that’s bad?

    If you want to see how hard Buchanan can wave the bloody shirt, consider this bit of rhetorical overkill that he authored on behalf of another pet project of his, namely the reputation of John Demjanjuk:

    In an April 14, 2009, column, Buchanan likened the persecution of Demjanjuk to that of Jesus Christ on Calvary Hill stating:

    “ It is the same satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago.”

    (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Buchanan#John_Demjanjuk)

    You read that correctly, folks: he once compared a suspected
    concentration camp guard to Christ.

    Pat Buchanan is beyond help.

  34. #34 Missy Miss
    September 3, 2009

    Orac, after I read this article:

    http://edgeofthewest.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/i-read-pat-buchanans-column-on-hitler-and-my-eyes-are-bleeding/

    I just had to come over here and see what you had to say about the whole thing. I was not disappointed.

  35. #35 AussieMarcus
    September 3, 2009

    #23

    It’s fair to say there’s no real difference between the loony Left and the loony Right. Once you get that far out on the fringe, those labels mean almost nothing.

    However, I do think there has been a reluctance among some sections of the Left to acknowledge that this sort of stuff is not an exclusively right-wing phenomenon.

  36. #36 DrugMonkey
    September 4, 2009

    Thanks for saddling up yet again to take on the forces of idiocy Orac.

    Honestly, what is Pat’s deal and why isn’t he in a rest home?

  37. #37 DLC
    September 4, 2009

    All I want is Peace, Peace, Piece!
    A little piece of poland, a little piece of france, a litle slice of turkey, a little dab of greece!

    You’re not alone in wanting to rub Buchanan’s nose in the truth.

  38. #38 peter
    September 4, 2009

    To be consequent – Buchanan is not a fascist apologist, his comments show that he is at minimum a proto fascist waiting to be born a fully fledged one.

  39. #39 Matthew Cline
    September 4, 2009
  40. #40 Andreas
    September 4, 2009

    @ 24: Stalinism is commonly used to characterize Stalin’s particular brand of Communism, as Nazism is the name for Hitler’s brand of Fascism. It was marked by absolute state control by the Party and the NKVD (lead by Lavrentij Berija, once described by Stalin as “our Himmler”), mass murder of own citizens (both opponents of the system, political rivals and allies) and creation of perpetual fear. The historian Norman Davies (in his book “Europe at war”, 2006) argues that had it not been for his delusional paranoia, Stalin would have been the only free person in the whole system. Stalinism was also very imperialistic, under the slogan “Communism in one state” (as opposed to Lenin’s internationalism). Stalinism was abandoned in 1956, when Nikita Khrustsjov held a “secret” speach denouncing a lot of Stalin’s evils.

  41. #41 eddie
    September 4, 2009

    Re the no-true-atheist thing and soviet union;

    Although it is true that, officially, communism has the lack of belief in a deity, it is clear that it has many of the hallmarks of religion nonetheless. Apart from the obvious, that stalinism was notably different from marx/leninism and that stalin, was a pope/father/fuhrer figure, as were hitler, pol pot, mussolini… there are, in communism, a number of faith-based dogmas such as dialecticalism.

    In short, communism and religion have much more in common than communism and atheism ever could.

  42. #42 SLC
    September 4, 2009

    Re Helena

    What the apologists for Chamberlain fail to consider was the other side of the hill. In 1938, at the time of the Munich Conference, the German armed forces were in no condition to fight a major war against Czechoslovakia, France, and Great Britain. In particular, unlike Poland, Czechoslovakia had a modern armaments industry and a fully modern and well equipped army. What Chamberlain did at Munich by selling out Czechoslovakia was to had that armaments industry over to Germany without firing a shot. Had Chamberlain stood up to Hitler at the Munich conference and had the latter then started a war by invading Czechoslovakia, he would have found such an invasion a considerably more challenging adventure then was the case against the obsolete Polish army the following year.

  43. #43 Richard Eis
    September 4, 2009

    -why did he make such a point of saying “Christians and Jews” instead of just “people”?-

    Because he wouldn’t consider atheists as humans probably.

  44. #44 wheatdogg
    September 4, 2009

    Thanks, Orac. You missed commenting on these two howlers:

    Indeed, why would he want war when, by 1939, he was surrounded by allied, friendly or neutral neighbors, save France.

    and

    As of March 1939, Hitler did not even have a border with Russia. How then could he invade Russia?

    The last one is the best. Hitler did invade Russia a year later. Or is Buchanan attempting to deny there was a Russian front?

  45. #45 Gil
    September 4, 2009

    Thanks for the article! Unsurprsingly there’s the similar view that the U.S. leaders ‘provoked’ Japan into World War Two. It unbelievable how many view the West as inherent evil and Nazi Germans and Imperial Japanese were innocent folks merely in acting self-defence against bloodthirsty aggressors.

    I see these weirdos as a movie character who’s an ally with the Villain and the Good Guy keeps warning the Well-Meaning Idiot that the guy’s the Villian but the W.M.I. thinks the Villian is ‘misunderstood’. Would Pat Buchanan be dragged to a Nazi concentration camp screaming “but I thought we were friends” to Hitler when he was no longer needed (in another timeline)?

  46. #46 Orac
    September 4, 2009
    As of March 1939, Hitler did not even have a border with Russia. How then could he invade Russia?

    The last one is the best. Hitler did invade Russia a year later. Or is Buchanan attempting to deny there was a Russian front?

    There’s also the matter that Hitler had said as early as the 1920s that there must be a final confrontation with “Judeo-Bolshevism” in order to obtain Lebensraum in the East. Since he was clearly referring to the Soviet Union, it’s worth asking Pat what lies between Germany and the Soviet Union.

    Poland.

    D’oh!

    Perhaps Pat thinks that Hitler would simply magically fly over Poland in order to take on the Soviets.

    In any case, you’re right. In fact, just last night I was thinking of adding a bit to this post to make fun of that last line about “not having a border” with the Soviet Union.

  47. #47 JefFlyingV
    September 4, 2009

    I can’t believe Pat is suffering from alzheimers, he has rewritten history as a neo-Nazi. Has Pat always thought this way? His piece goes beyond being an apologist that ignores Hitler, Mein Kampf, Goebbels…etc. As far as I can tell most news services are giving Pat a free ride with no criticism. Thanks Orac for pointing this out.

  48. #48 Robin Levett
    September 4, 2009

    I was “amused” by these two snippets from Buchanan’s piece:

    Why did Warsaw not negotiate with Berlin, which was hinting at an offer of compensatory territory in Slovakia?

    Hmm, I wonder:

    After Munich in 1938, Czechoslovakia did indeed crumble and come apart. Yet consider what became of its parts.

    The Sudeten Germans were returned to German rule, as they wished. Poland had annexed the tiny disputed region of Teschen, where thousands of Poles lived. Hungary’s ancestral lands in the south of Slovakia had been returned to her. The Slovaks had their full independence guaranteed by Germany.

    So the Slovaks had their full independence guaranteed by Germany – unless, of course, it suited him to offer some of their territory to Poland… A contradiction within 7 paragraphs – not a record, but pretty impressive nevertheless.

    That is irrespective of the fact that the sea’s a lot further away via Slovakia than via Gdansk…

  49. #49 Sara
    September 4, 2009

    I’m, actually, Polish.

    I saw it yesterday. It’s totally disgusting.
    Also, the part about “Christians and Jews”? Is disgusting and dehumanising, especially in the light of many Polish Jewish intellectualls having been outspoken atheists and/or secularsts before they were murdered by the Nazis.

    Bravo, Pat, bravo! :(

  50. #50 Patrick Spens
    September 4, 2009

    @41 Although it is true that, officially, communism has the lack of belief in a deity it is clear that it has many of the hallmarks of religion nonetheless

    It doesn’t matter if communism under Stalin had “many of the hallmarks of religion,” that does not make it one.

    Objectivism under Rand consisted of a whole bunch of utterly nonsense beliefs that needed to be taken on faith, and included an infallible authority figure. But the only reason to call it a religion would be if you had some kind of need to label everything bad as “religious” and liked to pretend that atheists could never do terrible things or hold irrational beliefs.

    Even if I accept your definition of religion as “shitty authoritarian belief system” that doesn’t mean that communism had more in common with it than with atheism. Atheism is a single belief, it can be part of many belief systems.

  51. #51 Troy
    September 4, 2009

    I wasn’t going to comment until I saw this comment:

    Unsurprisingly there’s the similar view that the U.S. leaders ‘provoked’ Japan into World War Two. It unbelievable how many view the West as inherent evil and Nazi Germans and Imperial Japanese were innocent folks merely in acting self-defense against bloodthirsty aggressors.

    That’s right, seizing Japanese assets and putting an embargo against Japan (an act of war), those actions weren’t provocative at all.

    If you think that fighting Japan was good that’s one thing, but to say that the Japanese attacked only due to their own perfidy and had nothing to do American policy is an exaggeration.

  52. #52 Orac
    September 4, 2009

    Note how Troy conveniently left out what Japan did to warrant those actions by the U.S.

    http://history.howstuffworks.com/world-war-ii/japan-bombs-pearl-harbor.htm

  53. #53 Troy
    September 4, 2009

    They were taking French and Dutch colonies, so that means America needed to defend them from the Japanese? That must the isolationism America was engaged in at the time. Or perhaps you meant the inherent threat to the territories that America took against the will of the inhabitants and keep out a rival imperial power.

  54. #54 Robin Levett
    September 4, 2009

    @Troy #53:

    China was a French and/or Dutch colony?

  55. #55 Troy
    September 4, 2009

    @54

    Was China America’s?

  56. #56 Chris Krolczyk
    September 4, 2009

    Troy:

    They were taking French and Dutch colonies, so that means America needed to defend them from the Japanese? That must the isolationism America was engaged in at the time.

    That isolationism you’re talking about was effectively blown to ratsh*t by Pearl Harbor and the subsequent attacks Japan made on practically the entire Pacific north of Papua New Guinea.

    Or perhaps you meant the inherent threat to the territories that America took against the will of the inhabitants and keep out a rival imperial powerwould be allied with the British, exiled Dutch and Free French governments so I hardly think they would be particularly concerned about this.

    Keep in mind that independence-minded politicians like Ho Chi Minh in French Indochina and Sukarno in the Dutch East Indies had about as much love for the Japanese as they did for their colonial masters.

  57. #57 Troy
    September 4, 2009

    It can also be said that the US was either currently allied with or would be allied with the British, exiled Dutch and Free French governments…

    Exactly, that’s what’s so frustrating about this period: everyone thinks was “Isolationist” (shudder) up until Pearl Harbor.

    Keep in mind that independence-minded politicians like Ho Chi Minh in French Indochina and Sukarno in the Dutch East Indies had about as much love for the Japanese as they did for their colonial masters.

    Anyone who knows the history of that whole region at all after the war, especially in Indochina (now Vietnam), knows how “great” it was for the Americans to take over. That’s the peril with all armed interventions: you get caught up in the politics of the country you just saved and are stuck picking sides.

  58. #58 Troy
    September 4, 2009

    Supposed to be:

    Exactly, that’s what’s so frustrating about this period: everyone thinks America was “Isolationist” (shudder) up until Pearl Harbor.

  59. #59 Joseph C.
    September 4, 2009

    Ah, good ‘ole crazy Pat is at it again. I really think he’d be an awesome guy to have over for dinner. He’s like a cheery, creepy old uncle or something. He also called the US Civil War secessionists “peaceful”. I guess Ft. Sumter wasn’t in his history book.

  60. #60 Green Eagle
    September 4, 2009

    In connection with Pat’s “ignoring” of the concept of Lebesraum, I would like to bring to your attention the following comment from a recent article of Pat’s:

    “But Middle America yet remains a blood-and-soil, family-and-faith, God-and-country kind of nation.”

    Do you think it could be possible that Pat is also unaware of the provenance of the term “blood-and-soil,” which he seems to be advocating as a good idea for our country too?

    Patrick Buchanan is not a Nazi apologist or a Nazi sympathizer. He has swallowed whole Hitler’s line of reasoning, and there is no reason to mince words. He is a Nazi, pure and simple, and there is no reason on earth that we should stand for his presence in our national discourse.

  61. #61 Jon H
    September 5, 2009

    Colugo wrote: “can’t spare any criticism for Baker, Vidal, and Zinn.”

    None of them are prominent, continuous presences on cable TV.

    Buchanan’s nonsense gets more exposure than the other three combined.

  62. #62 Jon H
    September 5, 2009

    I can only assume Troy agrees with the Japanese rightwingers who deny the Nanking atrocities, the enslavement of women as prostitutes, etc.

    Hey, let the Imperial Japanese do their thing, right man? Gotta love hippy-dippy non-logic.

  63. #63 Troy
    September 5, 2009

    I can only assume Troy agrees with the Japanese rightwingers who deny the Nanking atrocities, the enslavement of women as prostitutes, etc.

    That must be it I suppose, saying that America was anything other than totally innocent in regards to the start of the War in the Pacific objectively means: “Imperial Japan was wonderful! The Chinese got what they deserved and nothing more! If only the Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere survived!”

    If I were to tell you that I opposed the Iraq War, that could only mean I thought Saddam Hussein was nice, charming fellow right Jon? Everyone who opposed the Vietnam War must have said: “Ho Chi Minh kicks ass! Communism on the march!”

  64. #64 Robin Levett
    September 5, 2009

    @Troy #63:

    …saying that America was anything other than totally innocent in regards to the start of the War in the Pacific…

    Put the matches down and step away from that strawman, Troy.

    #55:

    Was China America’s?

    No, it was China’s; it wasn’t a French or Dutch colony. Since the USA’s sanctions were initially imposed in response to Japan’s continued aggression in China, they weren’t imposed because “[The Japanese] were taking French and Dutch colonies…”, which was your original claim.

  65. #65 Troy
    September 5, 2009

    No, it was China’s; it wasn’t a French or Dutch colony. Since the USA’s sanctions were initially imposed in response to Japan’s continued aggression in China, they weren’t imposed because “[The Japanese] were taking French and Dutch colonies…”, which was your original claim.

    What I was getting at was that none of it was the business of America.

    Put the matches down and step away from that strawman, Troy.

    I had said nothing about Nanking or women forced into prostitution or that the Japanese were correct in their expansionary policy. I only brought up how America had stuck its nose into the problem and provoked the Japanese. Jon then stated that my position meant that I must agree with Japanese rightwingers and Rape of Nanking deniers. The “strawman” was his stated position, such as it was.

  66. #66 Robin Levett
    September 5, 2009

    @Troy #65:

    What I was getting at was that none of it was the business of America.

    No. You made a specific claim which you overstated by saying that the USA only became involved to help out fellow colonial powers in the Pacific. That was what I was calling you on.

    And none of it was the USA’s business? An interesting attitude. The problem with only defending vital interests is that you only get left with vital interests intact – and by that stage you don’t have the means to defend them. You had extensive Pacific holdings – how long do you think it would have taken the Japanese get around to taking them off you if you had simply ignored what they were doing?

    I only brought up how America had stuck its nose into the problem and provoked the Japanese.

    The poor provoked Japanese – if only the USA had left them alone to get on with building their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

    I assume that if you see someone you don’t know being attacked on the other side of the street, you would ignore it even if you were packing a firearm and the attacker wasn’t? And you’d condemn anyone who did get involved as poking his nose into someone else’s business and thereby provoking the attacker?

  67. #67 SLC
    September 5, 2009

    Re Troy

    One really has to be amused by the criticisms of Roosevelts’ policies relative to Japan in the 1930s. On the one hand, he has clowns like Mr. Troy criticizing the policy of oil embargoes against Japan. On the other hand, the clowns on the other side of the political spectrum criticize Roosevelt for continuing to sell scrap iron to Japan. The man just can’t win for losing.

  68. #68 Orac
    September 5, 2009

    Colugo wrote: “can’t spare any criticism for Baker, Vidal, and Zinn.”

    None of them are prominent, continuous presences on cable TV.

    Buchanan’s nonsense gets more exposure than the other three combined.

    Moreover, I’m just not familiar with their writings because, well, I’ve never read them.

    Note however, that I don’t hold my fire against liberals. For instance, this is what I wrote when Dawkins said something amazingly insensitive about Jews:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/10/dawkins_walked_right_into_that_one.php

  69. #69 S. Rivlin
    September 5, 2009

    With all the arguments about WWII history, there is a tendency here to do what the media outlets are doing i.e., giving Pat a free ride. It is time to get on MSNBC’s case for employing him as one of their commentators. It is time to deny this antiSemite and Hitler apologist the national bema (MSNBC) from which he preaches his venom.

  70. #70 Bob
    September 5, 2009

    I am reminded of a quip about Buchanan back in his presidential campaign:

    “Did you know Pat Buchanan’s grandfather died in the Holocaust?

    Yeah, he fell out of a guard tower.”

    Pat’s latest execrable historical revisionism is par for the course.

  71. #71 Irene Delse
    September 5, 2009

    @ Chris #56: Good point, about the independance leaders in South East Asia. For instance, Ho Chi Mihn was a leader of the Vietnamese people’s resistance against Japan before the war of independance against France. And that war was for a large part caused by the refusal of the French government to even discuss independance with Ho, who had hoped the war against a common ennemy had earned the people of Indochina the right of self-determination.

    The rule of imperial Japan was even more ruthless against the indigenous populations than the French and British colonial administrations. My grandparents lived in Vietnam during WWII and told me about the famine caused by the Japanese army taking for themselves most of the rice production.

  72. #72 Troy
    September 5, 2009

    @66

    I should have been more careful in my response to Orac about the American policy towards Japan. The embargo and seizing of assets was about checking Imperial Japan and preempting any of its designs on the American colonies (which the US shouldn’t have had to begin with, but that’s getting into another subject). The problem with defending interests other than your own vital ones is that you end up involved in every conflict in areas surrounding your territory, near your territory or in any way related to it, or put another way, wars and threats thereof at all times.

    Your comparison of seeing an attacker preying on an innocent victim is an interesting one and seems apt on the surface. But again, the US was not just some concerned citizen or passerby. America was already ruling over the people there against their will. Suddenly, America was concerned about the welfare of the various peoples there in the path of Japanese Imperialism? If it actually cared at all about the people there why not leave and grant them independence in the 20′s, the 10′s or any time before?

    Finally, criticism of American provocation of the Japanese does not mean that the Japanese were right. Seeing this criticism over and over again makes this place like some conservative site where are criticism of the Iraq invasion is seen as support for Saddam Hussein.

  73. #73 Robin Levett
    September 5, 2009

    @Troy #72:

    American provocation of the Japanese

    This is the problem; I just cannot see what the USA did as “provocation” of the Japanese. The Japanese were acting in breach of all international norms; the USA was reacting, and trying to rein them in. That they were trying to rein them in was because they saw USA interests at stae is nothing to the point – it was the Japanese that were providing the provocation.

    America was already ruling over the people there against their will. Suddenly, America was concerned about the welfare of the various peoples there in the path of Japanese Imperialism? If it actually cared at all about the people there why not leave and grant them independence in the 20′s, the 10′s or any time before?

    What’s done was done – but abandoning your colonies to their fate in the face of Japanese aggression would have been the worst option. Given the ownership of an empire (the morality of which is of course something of an issue), “The White Man’s Burden” is pretty good at setting out your responsibilities. You don’t just abandon your colonies to a worse colonial ruler just because it’s got a bit too hot for you – you don’t say “If we’d given you independence 20 years ago, you’d have had a chance of remaining independent of Japan now; not only did we deny you that chance, we’re going to abandon you now when your only chance of avoiding that fate is for us to defend you”.

  74. #74 Troy
    September 5, 2009

    @73

    It was provocation because the Japanese had not threatened the American possessions in same way as the British or Dutch yet. America was getting itself involved in a fight between morally dubious, to say the least, governments who were fighting over who should dominate over the peoples of Asia, who didn’t want any of them there to begin with. The colonial regimes were more like organized criminal gangs in how they functioned, willing to kill opposition but not annihilate (for the most part) the local populations since lands empty of people to exploit are less profitable. So the conflict between the European and Japanese colonialists was more akin to La Cosa Nostra and the Yakuza fighting over turf and protection rackets than defense of national interests.

    Now about the point of independence, if we’re only considering from about the late 30′s on I can see how independence would be seen as abandoning them to the Japanese. The reference to the “White Man’s Burden” may be more apt than you realize however:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine-American_War

    One of the justifications for that war was, near-certain European intervention and conquest because many believed the Filipinos weren’t “ready” for independence. As one who isn’t a military historian I can’t give good speculation as to how American colonies could have defended themselves on their own, if at all, from the Japanese; I can say that most of the colonies weren’t saved from conquest by the Japanese. And if you believe that it was because more wasn’t done before December ’41, that would have still meant war in other Japanese possessions and much less political will to fight the Japanese than there was.

  75. #75 Robin Levett
    September 5, 2009

    @Troy #74:

    America was getting itself involved in a fight between morally dubious, to say the least, governments who were fighting over who should dominate over the peoples of Asia, who didn’t want any of them there to begin with.

    Do concentrate, Troy. We’re talking about the Japanese attack on China.

    The reference to the “White Man’s Burden” may be more apt than you realize however:

    Do you really think my reference was entirely random? Search my name with “Kipling” in talk.origins – a debate with one Fred Stone.

    As one who isn’t a military historian I can’t give good speculation as to how American colonies could have defended themselves on their own, if at all, from the Japanese

    Be serious! The Americans, trained and equipped as they were, couldn’t defend them – how effective do you think local forces with no training and no equipment would have been?

    And do you really think that Japanese occupation was preferable to British/Dutch/French/American? Or even that there was no difference? Bear in mind that, for example, the Indian Army was not a conscript army; it was entirely volunteer. They might have wanted independence from the Brits – but not at the cost of occupation by the Japanese.

  76. #76 Troy
    September 5, 2009

    The policy in regards to China was not in isolation from the policies elsewhere in Asia, it was about checking the Japanese advance, by war if necessary.

    Be serious! The Americans, trained and equipped as they were, couldn’t defend them

    That’s what I was getting at, even with America defending them, the Japanese still took over. I wouldn’t argue that the Japanese occupations were any better for the inhabitants than the previous ones (by all accounts I’ve seen they were much worse), but the Americans just took their colonies back during and after the war. They didn’t grant independence for any of them until years after the defeat of Japan. America also took over the British, French and Dutch colonies (or “independent” states which functioned as clients) after the war which led to the death of millions in the attempts to keep the territories. I know those deaths were beyond the scope of World War II, but the war set up the circumstances for that to happen.

    It was funny with your “White Man’s Burden” reference because I had forgotten it was literally inspired by the Philippine War. I remembered it was Rudyard Kipling, but assumed it had to do with one of the British colonial wars.

  77. #77 Prudence
    September 5, 2009

    “White Man’s Burden” was written in 1899 on the occasion of the American takeover of the Philippines from the Spanish. Kipling had not yet lost his son and therefore not gained some much needed perspective on the evils of war and empire. And I say that as a product of the English public school system, a factory for churning out rugby-playing empire builders.

    Also, Pat Buchanan is a twat.

  78. #78 Robin Levett
    September 5, 2009

    @Troy #75:

    That’s what I was getting at, even with America defending them, the Japanese still took over.

    I’m not quite sure how that supports your thesis that the USA was partially or wholly responsible for the war in the Pacific by provoking Japan. That the USA had a responsibility to defend its colonies against Japan, having denied them the independence that might have allowed them to do so themselves (or at least have given thema shot at it), is clear, even if in the event they were unable to. To suggest that that was some kind of provocation is frankly ludicrous.

    The provocation you rely upon is the imposition of sanctions, the initial occasion of which was Japanese aggression in China; and, [erhaps their defence of their colonies in the Pacific…

    What happened after the war is hardly relevant to whether the USA caused the war, surely?

  79. #79 Troy
    September 5, 2009

    Japanese aggression was not America’s business, that much was an issue between the Chinese and Japanese. Involvement only widened the conflict and turned America targets for retaliation; though not really justifiable because their own imperial possessions weren’t any more legitimate than America’s, but predictable (would more accurate to say it was provocation in a realpolitik sense). Minding its own business would a good way to aid in the defense by at least providing less pretexts for invasion.

    I brought up the post-war because you alluded to the Japanese occupation and how brutal it was. Imperial Japan was one of the most explicitly racist empires in at least the last three hundred years; it wasn’t just their propaganda that the other Asian races were inferior, it was policy. The worst aspect, though, was the death of millions they were directly responsible for, either through direct killing or starvation. The end of the war led to the conditions where ever more would be killed to maintain American dominance (imperialism demands violence, not matter who the imperialist is), so I just wanted show the choice between Japanese, American or other colonial domination wasn’t clear cut.

    @77
    Wasn’t there some disagreement over whether Kipling actually wrote poem tongue-in-cheek? It’s kind of over the top in its calls to “save” the poor benighted, non-European people of the world.

  80. #80 Robin Levett
    September 6, 2009

    @Troy #79:

    Imperial Japan was one of the most explicitly racist empires in at least the last three hundred years; it wasn’t just their propaganda that the other Asian races were inferior, it was policy. The worst aspect, though, was the death of millions they were directly responsible for, either through direct killing or starvation.

    and:

    Japanese aggression was not America’s business, that much was an issue between the Chinese and Japanese.

    together is what disgusts me about your apparent brand of isolationism. That sound you hear is Lafayette turning in his grave.

    Quite apart from the fact that:

    Minding its own business would a good way to aid in the defense by at least providing less pretexts for invasion.

    demonstrates myopia in the extreme. It’s rather like saying that Hitler’s ambitions in the East posed no threat to Western Europe.

    And as for literary criticism:

    Wasn’t there some disagreement over whether Kipling actually wrote poem tongue-in-cheek?

    Only with any degree of intellectual respectability amongst those who have never read any of Kipling’s other writings. There’s a very good reason that Kipling has been called the poet of Empire; the poem perfectly expresses Kipling’s view of imperialism, that with power comes responsibility. You’d had an empire fall in your lap; it was your job (he said) to take up the burdens of empire and protect and educate the natives until they could take their place amongst nations. The lines:

    Take up the White Man’s burden-
    Ye dare not stoop to less-
    Nor call too loud on Freedom
    To cloak your weariness

    are in this sense the heart of the poem. He was telling the US that you’d got a job to do, and that to refuse to do it in the name of freedom for the colonies you’d acquired would be an abdication of your responsibilities.

  81. #81 Ben Rabb
    September 6, 2009

    Orac,

    You have some good historical points to make, but you botch them up (big time!) with your typical snotty tone and strawman arguments.

    3 critical facts:

    1. 80% of Nazi losses were on the Eastern Front against USSR. The European theatre was MOSTLY a war between Hitler (Nazis) and Stalin (Communists) — this was the manifestation of 20 years of bad blood following the horrendous Versaille Treaty. Yes, Hitler was an anti-semite (see Mein Kampf), who thought the Commies were all disaffected Jews.

    2. England gave Poland a war guarantee, which was totally stupid. With England’s protection, Poland refused to negotiate with Germany over the Danzig corridor. Instead, Poland got Blitzkrieged. And, then, England did NOTHING to help Poland, because they basically had no army!

    3.After Poland was invaded, Britain declared war on Germany — and did NOTHING for 8 months. The famous “Sitzkrieg”.

    Hitler was evil and needed to be beaten, but Churchill was a typical, British, Colonial warmongerer, who gave great oratory, but let other nations (USSR and US) to the real heavy lifting.

  82. #82 Ramel
    September 6, 2009

    Ben Rabb, you are full of shit.

  83. #83 Robin Levett
    September 6, 2009

    @Ben Rabb:

    Churchill was a typical, British, Colonial warmongerer, who gave great oratory, but let other nations (USSR and US) to the real heavy lifting.

    UK entered WWII: September 1939
    USSR entered WWII: June 1941
    USA entered WWII: December 1941

    Killed as proportion of men under arms:

    UK: 5.2%
    USSR: 25.1%
    USA: 3.5%

  84. #84 Troy
    September 6, 2009

    together is what disgusts me about your apparent brand of isolationism.

    What happened after the US “saved” them? Even more people died from the occupations and puppet governments that were setup by the Americans. Seeing this only from the direct perspective of World War II is your own myopia, because the takeover of those lands were a direct consequence of the war as were the wars to suppress their independence.

    You’d had an empire fall in your lap; it was your job (he said) to take up the burdens of empire and protect and educate the natives until they could take their place amongst nations.

    He was telling the US that you’d got a job to do, and that to refuse to do it in the name of freedom for the colonies you’d acquired would be an abdication of your responsibilities.

    First, the empire didn’t just fall into the lap of America in any sense, it was the direct result of the Spanish-American War (which didn’t just start because of the USS Maine). Second, he makes the assumption that the peoples that were conquered needed to be brought up to the level of civilization. Apparently surviving thousands of years on their own wasn’t enough to demonstrate that they were smart enough to figure out on their own the “civilization” the Americans were bringing them (even though Europeans were smart enough themselves to not only figure it out but create much of it). Of course, what this paternalism meant in practice was any resistance to colonial rule before they had been “brought up” would be crushed without mercy, even if tens or hundreds of thousands died. Third, the supposed benevolence espoused by the White Man’s Burden was, at least in application, no more than an excuse for colonial rule. It’s rather obvious why, because if the natives were ever “brought up” colonial rule would lose its justification and all the advantages the imperialists got from exploiting the colony would end. One can even see in practice how badly this “job” was in the results of decolonization. Other than colonies like Australia which were not seen as having need of education about what civilization was, the new countries were mired in economic disarray and violence, if not outright civil war, despite decades or even centuries of supposed education about civilization.

  85. #85 Uncle Dave
    September 6, 2009

    “If Hitler wanted the world, why did he not build strategic bombers, instead of two-engine Dorniers and Heinkels that could not even reach Britain from Germany?”

    History of Hitler’s meddling in the technical affairs of his generals is well documented. Hitler was not a strategist in the area of weapons technology (often referred to by the his military leaders as “the little corporal” behind his incredibly protected back). The discussion of Hitler overriding the intended purpose of weapons systems for his own ideas of their use (more like his tyraid’s with his generals) is well documented. That aside, the Germans had the Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor a formidable 4 engine long range anti shipping bomber.

    Ethan Porter is quite correct. Hilter was a lousy military strategist, of that there is much documentation. For instance, when he decided to stop bombing the airfields in England during the Battle of Britain. Had they continued to hit the airfields in England, Britain could well have lost the Battle instead of turning the tide as they did. Why did Hitler order the bombers to hit London? Because the British bombed Berlin in retaliation of the German onslaught and Hitler was pissed off by it. Much of what Hitler did was based on some sort of angry tirade he was in.

    How would you have liked to be sixth army General Paulus in Stalingrade. He was outnumbered and surrounded by the Russians but was told by Hilter to remain and fight (no Field Marshall was ever captured before and Hitler felt that Paulus would fight to the end). The Russians took 91,000 German prisoners.

    Hitler did not want war with the U.S., of that we are sure. He did not need long range bombers because he thought the US would not enter into a war with Britain. He was bombing Britain with twin engined bombers as early as 1940 and bombing Stalingrade not long after that. The German generals knew Hitler all to well and were certainly not adverse to having Hitler taken out before he got Germany into a two front war. If the generals could have had Hitler arrested or killed early on in the war, they would have likely have stopped with Germany having a much larger territory which would have included Poland.

    Stay out of weapon system arguements as partial justification for your poor premise that Hitler was not interested in European domination and beyond Mr. Buchanan.

    Buchanan is a pretty scary dude all dressed up to look like just another conservative, more like a revisionist in conservative sheeps clothing.

  86. #86 Robin Levett
    September 6, 2009

    @Troy:

    I’m over here. When you want to deal with the arguments I am making, I’ll answer. In the meantime the attitude “Why should I be bothered about a squabble between China and Japan” still disgusts me.

  87. #87 Troy
    September 6, 2009

    Your argument is that we should “be bothered about a squabble between China and Japan” because the Japanese were brutal. Mine is that it wasn’t America’s business to resolve it and that involvement led, predictably, to more imperialism and death. And frankly, I find your call to use the White Man’s Burden for setting out responsibilities to be disgusting and paternalistic.

  88. #88 autismnewsbeat
    September 6, 2009

    Buchanan is rehashing “Hitler’s War” by David Irving, another Hitler apologist.

  89. #89 Ramel
    September 6, 2009

    So in trying not to spread imperialism and death the US should have sat back and let Japan spread imperialism and death accross asia? That squabble between China and Japan geve us such fun events as the Nanking massacre, an events so vile that only the Holocaust oversadows them as the worst thing ever. Are you saying we should have just left them to it? If so then fuck you.

  90. #90 Troy
    September 6, 2009

    Alright Ramel, what wonderful events did not sitting back lead to: Backing Chiang Kai-shek, whose government was so corrupt the Chinese supported Mao Zedong in his rise to power (who killed tens of millions).

    So fuck you too, Ramel. Think we saved the world do you? Tell that those who died from Cultural Revolution and American Imperialism (where America was ever and always “saving the world from another Hitler”).

  91. #91 Joseph C.
    September 6, 2009

    I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that Troy takes Noam Chomsky seriously.

  92. #92 Ramel
    September 6, 2009

    The cultural revolution wasn’t launched until the mid 60′s, unless you belive the government should start hiring fortune tellers how the hell were they supposed to see that coming? If we’re going to go down this road, perhaps we should never take any action ever? What if stopping Bin Laden causes bad shit to happen in africa? Hell if we’d left hitler alone there would have been no cold war! The people involved may have screwed up, but even seriously considering doing nothing as civilians are massacred in their hundreds of thousands marks you as a complete and utter prick.

  93. #93 DLC
    September 7, 2009

    Oh, right. Isolationism works great.
    hiding out behind our borders and beyond the seas worked real well. in 1800, 1812 and 1914.

  94. #94 Robin Levett
    September 7, 2009

    @Troy #87:

    Your argument is that we should “be bothered about a squabble between China and Japan” because the Japanese were brutal.

    As somebody recently said:

    “Put the matches down and step away from that strawman, Troy.”

    Morality and self-interest dictated intervention.

    And frankly, I find your call to use the White Man’s Burden for setting out responsibilities to be disgusting and paternalistic.

    Really? You consider that once you have an empire – and you had one in the Pacific in the ’30s, whether or not it was right or moral – you have no moral responsibilities to those whose right to self-determination you have removed beyond simply setting them adrift to fend for themselves?

    Understood as a call to go and get an Empire, “The White Man’s Burden” is indeed paternalistic, immoral and also naive. Kipling didn’t understand the economic imperatives behind Empire. But as pointing out that once you have an Empire you’ve got responsibilities, it works in intent if not in specifics. Setting your colonies “free” when you know that they will remain free only for as long as it takes the Japanese to get there, because you’ve done nothing about working with the locals to train and equip local defence forces is an abdication of responsibility. Paternalism has nothing to do with it – it’s a matter of “you made the mess, you fix it”.

  95. #95 tokyonambu
    September 7, 2009

    a concrete example of the White man’s burden was the Belgian Congo, where the sudden withdrawal brought on the collapse of an already abused country. contrast with the British exit from India which, modulo the issue of Kashmir from which no politician emerges with
    much credit, passed off successfully.

  96. #96 bexley
    September 7, 2009

    Ben Rabb condensed a lot of stupid into the following comments:

    1. 80% of Nazi losses were on the Eastern Front against USSR. The European theatre was MOSTLY a war between Hitler (Nazis) and Stalin (Communists) — this was the manifestation of 20 years of bad blood following the horrendous Versaille Treaty. Yes, Hitler was an anti-semite (see Mein Kampf), who thought the Commies were all disaffected Jews.

    By the time Poland was invaded the Germans had regained almost all the land they’d lost at Versaille and also annexed Austria and the rump of Czechoslovakia along the way. They’d rearmed and stopped paying reparations (as well as not repaying loans from the US made after the war). Little of Versaille remained in effect and so Germany can have had few remaining grievances.

    2. England gave Poland a war guarantee, which was totally stupid. With England’s protection, Poland refused to negotiate with Germany over the Danzig corridor. Instead, Poland got Blitzkrieged. And, then, England did NOTHING to help Poland, because they basically had no army!

    3.After Poland was invaded, Britain declared war on Germany — and did NOTHING for 8 months. The famous “Sitzkrieg”.

    Er eh? Germany had already broken the Munich accord and annexed the remainder of Czechoslovakia. Why would anyone think they could be trusted over Danzig?

    On the day the Munich accord was signed Hitler told the head of Germany Army Procurement (Thomas) to prepare for war with Britain and France by 1941. He had no intention of living peacably with the western allies – again why would you have trusted him to negotiate in good faith?

    France also gave Poland a guarantee (that you ignore). France had a powerful land army (more powerful than Germany’s) and Britain had a powerful fleet. Britain didnt need an army on the continent immediately because the French were already there!

    The reason behind Allied inaction at the start of the war was because time was on their side. Their combined GDP was higher than Germany’s and Germany had trouble getting access to raw materials. Hence they could arm much faster than Germany could.

    They should still have been able to beat Germany, but the longer they left it the stronger they became. Great plan until they fell for Von Manstein’s feint attack through the low countries and were encircled.

    Hitler was evil and needed to be beaten, but Churchill was a typical, British, Colonial warmongerer, who gave great oratory, but let other nations (USSR and US) to the real heavy lifting.

    Churchill didnt even lead Britain into the war – Chamberlain was PM until just after the disastrous Norway Campaign.

  97. #97 Alan
    September 7, 2009

    This is an interesting & wide ranging debate. I’d like to pick on one point: Orac & virtually everybody else says the war officially started in Sep 1939. But 2 of the major powers in that conflict were already at war and had been for years. Why don’t we date the start of the 2nd world war to the Japanese assaults on China in 1937 (the Marco Polo Bridge incident)? Or even earlier, eg 1931, the Mukden incident?

  98. #98 Robin Levett
    September 8, 2009

    @Alan:

    Why don’t we date the start of the 2nd world war to the Japanese assaults on China in 1937 (the Marco Polo Bridge incident)? Or even earlier, eg 1931, the Mukden incident?

    It is of course to some extent arbitrary – but I’d suggest you concentrate on the “world” bit of the definition. Hitler’s attack on Poland in September 1939 started a conflict involving nations on 5 continents (Europe, North America, Africa, Australasia and Asia).

  99. #99 Chris Krolczyk
    September 8, 2009

    Ben Rabb:

    Hitler was evil and needed to be beaten, but Churchill was a typical, British, Colonial warmongerer, who gave great oratory, but let other nations (USSR and US) to the real heavy lifting.

    Uh huh. Sure.

    For roughly a year between France’s capitulation to the start of Barbarossa, the UK fielded the only armed forces opposing the Germans in Europe other than resistance fighters in countries that were already under occupation. And although I’m loathe to lean too heavily on Wikipedia as a source, British military forces lost only about 30,000 fewer troops than the US in terms of war dead, although their combined totals are completely dwarfed by Soviet military losses from 1941 on.

    Cite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties

    Considering those facts, your idea of comparative “heavy lifting” seems a bit…odd.

  100. #100 Chris Krolczyk
    September 8, 2009

    Robin Levett:

    Do you really think my reference was entirely random? Search my name with “Kipling” in talk.origins – a debate with one Fred Stone.

    I’m taking a quick look at it now (if taking a slog through parts of a nearly 1,900-post long thread can be considered “quick”), but I’ve seen Fred’s posts before. You have my condolences.

  101. #101 Robin Levett
    September 9, 2009

    @Chris:

    but I’ve seen Fred’s posts before. You have my condolences.

    Thanks, but while it’s a dirty job, someone had to do it…

  102. #102 tiger tim
    May 29, 2010

    LOL!

    Amazed that NONE of you hve caught on to what’s
    REALLY behind Buchanan’s ‘Pacifist-revisionist’
    WWII trip!

    FACT IS –it’s NOT about the long gone WWII at all
    -BUT about intellectually undercutting ANY moral objection
    to our current campaign of legitmizing history’s
    –MOST– awesomely genocidal regime -bar none! —ACROSS
    the Pacific.

    FACT IS –Buchanan’s very, very much acting the ‘Conservative’ frontman, blindside and apologist
    for our disastrous, perhaps lethal, decades long
    biz-nihilist sellout and suck-up to you know who.

    In this he’s reading from exactly the same playbook
    as the lowest mercenary sleaze in our PC franchise
    slum film industry and media.

    “The Americans came just like a whore,
    all dressed up and knocking at our back door–”
    -Chou En Lai
    Nixon/MAO Summit
    1972

    —PAT was there!

    As millions continue to suffer and die in SILENCE
    on this, the once again ‘mysteriously overlooked’
    60th Anniversary of the startlingly relevant
    KOREAN WAR —-need we say more?

    AGAIN —’Conservative/Populist’ PAT —is a phoney!
    –you’ve been warned!

    -AMEN-

  103. #103 Travis
    May 29, 2010

    What in the world was that?

    Makes me think of Markuze.

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