August 02, 2008

“Common Knowledge” about W.W.II

Over on channel NRO, you can catch an ?Uncommon Knowledge? forum on Pat Buchanan?s new book, and some other recent works of W.W.II revisionism. Pat wasn?t invited to speak, of course (bad for consensus), and instead NRO had on Victor Davis Hanson and Christopher Hitchens, who basically agreed with each another on just about everything. Hanson?s a little less likely than Hitch to emphasize how much the popular front Socialists were proven right about fascism, but both sing in unison that well known refrain:

We must never give in, never give in!
To Tyrants in Baghdad or in Berlin.

Anyway, basta with the 2003 war debate, I?m sick of it. Still, one of Hanson?s comments is worth focusing in on. The moderator, Peter Robinson, brings up a quotation from Niall Ferguson (a sometime neocon ally, but definitely not when the issue of the world wars comes up):

The principle beneficiary of the Second World War was Stalin?s Soviet Union. ? The victory of 1945 was a tainted victory, if, indeed, it was a victory at all.

Hanson claims that none of this is true because, you see, the Second World War was part of a ?integral process? that not only destroyed Nazism, Fascism, and Japanese militarism, but ultimately ?discredited communism.? Once you understand the ?process,? you begin to see that in fact the Soviet Union was actually not strengthened by its victory over Germany (don?t let those territorial gains fool you.) 

Hanson seems to be reviving the art of Whig history, that is looking back on the past and understanding how everything was always leading towards to just where were standing right now. In the history of inevitable improvement, the signing Magna Carta might seems but a step in some ?integral process? towards No Child Left Behind.

OK, Hanson isn?t that bad, he does generally ignore a few extremely important things about World War II. First, FDR, the principle player who got America involved, didn?t have the slightest intention of ?discrediting Communism??establishing Uncle Joe as one of the four ?world policemen? was more like it.

Secondly, immediately after the second world war, Communism was thrust to perhaps its highest stage of credibility. Moscow hit its zenith of geopolitical power, as Marxism-Leninism held sway over the intellectual elites?not only was a whole generation of European Leftists, more or less, taken in but someone like Whittiker Chambers genuinely thought that in defending the non-Communist ?West,? he?s was going to be on the losing side.

It?s one thing to observe that a regime based on a false sense of human nature (not to mention a really false sense of economics) will eventually collapse. It?s quite another to claim that?s its part of America?s W.W.II ?victory,? especially when Washington?s war aims were far from anticommunist. 

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