The valley of tears
Here are a couple of full-length comments on Half The Battle, which discussed the new fashion of arguing that the Allies and Hitler were morally equivalent in World War 2, or that World War 2 wasn't worth fighting. The first is from a well known blogger, who writes:
I'm surprised this article didn't mention Niall Ferguson's "let the Kaiser have Europe" argument concerning WWI...certainly the Germans were far more successful in terms of actually making local alliances in Eastern Europe, the Baltics and Ukraine in WWI than in WWII, when their genocidal (and kleptocratic) policies immediately led to resistance.
True, (lest we forget) Germany invaded Russia in 1941 with nearly a million allies - Bulgarians, Romanians, Italians, etc. But their generals in WWI, for all their tactical limitations, were far smarter, and far less cowed by their leadership to be so stupid as to repeat Napoleon's march. OKW even had a timetable showing them exactly when the Russian roads would turn to mud, and despaired when Hitler ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia which set back The Plan by six weeks - long enough to insure they would come up short right at the gates of Moscow, right where the German staff said they would, based on the same horse drawn logistics, panzers aside, that limited Napoleon's march...
Ferguson is correct to argue that a German dominated Mitteleuropa would have been far more benign than the racial thousand year reich...in any case, I'm of the school of thought that Buchanan is naive - without British and ultimately American "meddling", Europe post-1918 was destined to be dominated by either a totalitarian Germany or Russia....the trenches poisoned the well, and there was no going back.
While I'm not sure I buy the "Germans would have beaten Russia without any British-American involvement" - the proponderence of Land Lease didn't really kick in until after the decisive battle at Kursk, though Lend Lease certainlly made it possible for the Red Army to go on the offensive. Certainly the Germans would have ended up with a lot more territory in the East before a combination of guerilla warfare and a major arms race with the Anglo-American powers exhausted the Reich. For all the German engineering prowess, Nazi economic policies were a total train wreck - Hitler really could not have delayed war for another few years without the country running into the ground, he almost had to go to war when he did to steal enough to sustain the drive. When they occupied the East, the Germans did little more than steal from the same peasants who had hidden their grain during the resistance to Stalin's collectivization, with equally dismal results.
FYI, when I was in Moscow, I was very glad to see the Lend Lease section in the Memorial museum in Moscow - my fiancee couldn't believe that the Red Army rolled into Berlin on 300,000 American trucks...they didn't teach that in the Soviet history books.
My own comment is that the Russians may well have beaten Hitler on their own. But the only power which was certain to win, given unlimited ruthlessness, was the United States. Why? Because it would have the Atomic Bomb in 1945. Of course no one would have known this for sure in 1942. But in retrospect, Hitler was certainly doomed.
The other comment is from a US officer, who writes:
Caught your post on WWII revisionist histories. Interestingly, I read it while taking a break from a movie I was watching. I use TiVo to find old movies that fall under the categories of "Thriller" or "Alfred Hitchcock" for example. 1940's "The Mortal Storm" stars Jimmy Stewart, and chronicles -- in a 1940 Hollywood sort of way -- the change in civil society in a small university town in Germany in 1933. I think you are right, that there are so many people now who see war as the ultimate wrong. Thus, anyone who participates in it is to be condemned. Taken to its extreme, this leads to a funny sort of fascism: "pacifiscism" would perhaps be a name for it. It begs the question: would the "pacifiscists" ever get so worked up that they'd be willing to physically punish someone for participating in war? I think yes, though they would fell horrible afterwards. On another note: Since we've discussed books in the past, I should tell you: I'm 35 pages shy of finishing War and Peace. And last week I read Allen Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind." It was awesome.
The problem is living itself entails the burden of guilt. The debate over whether to "invade Burma" to force them to accept relief is an interesting example of how one is damned if one does and damned if one doesn't. It is impossible to simultaneously have saved the Jews from the ovens and to have kept one's hands unsullied by war.
The fact is that life is full of choose-the-lesser-evil situations. A person with advanced diabetes might be told by the doctor that either the leg comes off or he dies. Nobody wants the leg off. Not the doctor, nor the patient, nor anyone at all. But the choice remains. Limp or die.
History puts people in absurd positions. If war can create bizarre situations so can pacifism. We live in a world of mystery, suffering and death. The only consolation is that it is also a world of life, generosity and love. They are mixed together to form our existence. However ardently we wish to have just one and not the other there is no escape from human reality on this side of the river.
The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.