If only Hitler had not been fought….

This weekend people may be interested in taking a look at the debate stimulated by Pat Buchanan’s new book: Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War”: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World .

In this book Buchanan, who is an arch paleoconservative and strongly opposed to the Iraq war , claims that  both world war2 and the holocaust can be blamed on Churchill. Hitler should have been left alone, Britain should have minded its own business. Lovely stuff!

Buchanan’s response to Hitchens’ attack on his book has been reprinted in full at anti-war.com .

“”Anti-war.com” does not see itself as in any sense a “left-wing” site – in fact, if you read its description of itself, you will see that it takes a firmly libertarian position. However it’s a species of libertarianism that is sharply at odds with the dynamist position taken by people such as Virginia Postrel. Buchanan and anti-war.com are examples of the classic “old fashioned” conservative right – terrified of modernity.

Anti-war.com calls for a united front of all “anti-imperialists” from “left” to right:

This site is devoted to the cause of non-interventionism and is read by libertarians, pacifists, leftists, “greens”, and independents alike , as well as many on the Right who agree with our opposition to imperialism…… Today, we are seeking to challenge the traditional politics of “Left” and “Right……..Antiwar.com has become the Internet newspaper of record for a growing international movement, the central locus of opposition to a new imperialism that masks its ambitions in the rhetoric of “human rights,” “humanitarianism,” “freedom from terror,” and “global democracy.”

Strange times indeed.

3 Responses to “If only Hitler had not been fought….”

  1. 1 DavidMc

    It is good to see a bit of controversy on this issue.  People can hold a correct position on something but it is bound to be poorly thought through if it encounters no opposing views. And from the point of view of Strange Times it is a good to have controversies that cannot easily be framed in terms of left and right. It makes views expressed here not seem quite so off beat.

  2. 2 keza

    I think it’s important for us to realise that those who regard themselves as “on the Right”   are fighting amongst themselves.   Buchanan represents one group but there is no unity on the Right.  The dividing issue is often to do with attitudes to modernity and development – just as it is between us and the  pseudo-left.  I’m not very familiar with US politics and the rifts between particular groups, but I’m gradually realising what a wide spread of ideas circulates amongst the right.   I first came across Pat Buchanan when reading VIrginia Postrel’s book “The Future and its Enemies” a few years ago. A synopsis and several chapters can be read here.

    In chapter 1 Postrel describes a “love-in” between Pat Buchanan and Jeremey Rifkin (regarded by her as  a leftist):

    “One of the most common rituals in American political life is the television debate between right and left. Producers round up conservative and liberal representatives and set them to arguing with each other: about the federal budget, campaign finance, gun control, or whatever other issue is hot that particular day. Since the purpose is as much to entertain as to inform, and since many shows like to feature politicians, these debates tend to be predictable. They rehash familiar arguments, repeat familiar sound bites, and confirm traditional views of the political landscape.

    Nowhere is the ritual more established than on CNN’s Crossfire. The hosts and their guests are stuffed into familiar boxes—even positioned on the right or left of the TV screen according to political convention—and are expected to behave predictably.

    Which is why the first Crossfire of 1995 was so remarkable.

    For starters, the subject was an unusual one for a Washington show: the future. Not the future of the new Republican-led Congress or of welfare reform or of Bill Clinton’s political career, but the future in general. The guests were Jeremy Rifkin, the well-known antitechnology activist, and Ed Cornish, the president of the World Future Society. Rifkin sat on the left, aligned with Michael Kinsley; Cornish on the right, aligned with Pat Buchanan.

    Or at least that was how the producers planned it. That was how conventional politics prescribed it. Rifkin, the former antiwar protester and darling of environmentalists, clearly belongs to the left. Cornish, a technophile, becomes a right-winger by default. And hosts Kinsley and Buchanan were, of course, hired for their political positions.

    But as soon as the discussion began, the entire format broke down. Buchanan and Rifkin turned out to be soulmates. Rifkin answered Buchanan’s opening question with a fearful description of “this new global high-tech economy” as a cruel destroyer of jobs. “You sound like a Pat Buchanan column,” replied his interrogator. “I agree.”

    Both men were deeply pessimistic about the future, upset about changes in the world of work, and desperate to find government policies to restore the good old days. Both spoke resentfully of the “knowledge sector.” Neither had anything good to say about new technologies. Neither could imagine how ordinary people could possibly cope with economic changes. “There are many, many Americans who are not equipped to do this kind of work. They’re the ones losing their jobs,” said Buchanan. Responded Rifkin: “Let me say I find myself in a position of agreeing with Pat once again, which gives me alarm, but I really do agree with you on this one.”

    It was surely a bad day for the Crossfire bookers. They had managed to call the show’s entire premise into question. How could such a thing happen? How could Crossfire become a love-in between Jeremy Rifkin and Pat Buchanan? “


    By the way, back in 2004 Barry wrote a review of Postrel’s book. It was published on LastSuperpower and can be read here.

  3. 3 youngmarxist

    Buchanan’s book sounds almost exactly like the argument advanced by David Irving in Volume One of his “Churchill’s War” (click here for an exhaustive list of places where you can find it, including libraries, and click here for reviews at Amazon.com.Irving’s basic thesis is that Churchill is responsible for the destruction of the British Empire, by his war-mongering against Hitler, driven in part by Churchill’s extremely heavy drinking, and money he took from  Czech sources (says Irving).There seem to be two main arguments against Irving: first, picking out inaccuracies in his work, and second, that it would be “unthinkable” not to have fought Hitler.Both of these arguments miss the point entirely. Irving’s inaccuracy and intellectual dishonesty does not, in itself, affect how attractive people might find his views. And in the USA in the 1930s, there was a very powerful isolationist movement – America First – with people like the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh as spokespeople – that did everything it could to keep the USA out of war with Germany. Isolationism and accommodation with fascism are very thinkable for many people, including many who consider themselves left. It was only after Hitler broke his word, given at Munich in 1938, that the British people started to decide that he had to be stopped. Before then, appeasement was a very popular policy.If we think that fascism ought to be met with armed force and defeated, the most important question for us to ask is: “How can we convince the majority of ordinary people that this is a good thing”?

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