Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War P.J.Buchanan.
Published by Crown Publishing, Hard cover 544 pages $29.95.
How to lose the largest empire the world has ever seen, in three decades.
I have the highest regard for Pat Buchanan. He is arguably the best president America never had. As a writer, he is a victim of modern technology. His prose in Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, is closer to a blog than a literary work, and his dependence on Lexis-Nexis, is apparent on every page. That said, Buchanan is a journalist, and as a journalist he has written a short history of the world from 1914 to 1945. If the thought of ploughing through a history book fills you with foreboding, let me assure you that Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, is a page turner par excellence. In all the 544 pages, you will not find a wasted word or a superfluous phrase. But be warned: you must read the entire book. Buchanan is guilty of overstating his arguments for and against as the work progresses. Depending upon your particular sympathies, there are chapters that will cause you to defenestrate the book in a moment. But as you progress, your own particular point of view will be addressed.
Fundamentally, Buchanan postulates that America by design and Sir Winston Churchill as a consequence, destroyed the British Empire.
The planks of his platform are that Britain did not have to enter the war against Germany in 1914, but because they did, they escalated a German/French squabble into a world war. He essentially says the same thing about WWII.
His position is that as Kaiser Wilhelm was closely related to Queen Victoria, and wanted to be friends with Great Britain. He uses a similar argument with Fuhrer Hitler. Indeed there is a similar suggestion that Hitler respected Great Britain and went out of his way not to antagonize her.
This places Buchananís total thesis on very thin ice. It fails to appreciate that Great Britain is an island, and as such is paranoid about hostile forces occupying the continental coast 21 miles away across the English Channel. Once a hostile power can compete with the Royal Navy, and blockade Great Britain, they are finished. Both the Kaiser and the Fuhrer were intimidated by Britainís maritime supremacy.
Of course Great Britain could have turned a blind eye to Prussian aggression, but it would have had to build up its defences and wait for a Teutonic Europe to crush arrogant little Britain. Surely it was smarter to fight them in Flanders in 1914 than the Wield of Kent in 1925?
Buchanan contends that dear old Adolf was misunderstood, and only wanted to regain the land taken from Germany at the Versailles Conference in 1919. Does Buchanan seriously believe that Britain (like America), should have stood by while Germany occupied (and destroyed), all of Europe, murdered all the Jews, and enslaved everyone east of Bratislava?
He further suggests that Great Britainís declaration of war against Germany was tantamount to suicide. And it was. Churchill knew that Great Britain could only fight for three years, and then she would be bankrupt. He also knew that someone had to have the guts to stand-up to the Nazi hordes. What he didnít expect, was that America would exploit the situation, and shake Great Britain down, and financially screw her into the ground. Rooseveltís plan was derailed when Hitler declared war on America. Had that not happened, America would have sat it out while Russia and Germany tore themselves to pieces on the Russian Steppes and our courageous Dough-Boys could have occupied what was left.
Buchanan seems to favour this Mafioso foreign policy. An analogy might be standing by as a hoodlum attacks and robs an old lady, and when they have run off, stealing her shoes.
There are occasions in life when the honorable thing to do, does not pass the Enron test of business efficiency.
It is suggested that the genesis of Britainís problems was giving up a treaty with Japan at Americaís insistence. Buchanan seems to think that an alliance with Britain had some kind of calming effect on the war-like tendencies of warrior nations. A Japan/Britain alliance would have gentled the Japanese condition to the extent that occupying Manchuria and China would no longer hold any attraction for them. A similar alliance with the nice old Kaiser, would have seen Germany writing loud music, and slapping their Lederhosen for the rest of the millennium.
Too much of Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, relies on quotes from other writers to support a given thesis. These are opinions not source material.However, Buchanan comes into his own in the final chapter where the mirror of old Europe generally and Great Britain in particular is reflected on the United States of today.
Whether you are American or British, this book is tough to read Ė but you must read it. For, in the words of George Santayana:
ďThose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.Ē