Sniegoski on Pat Buchanan's A REPUBLIC, NOT AN EMPIRE


Buchanan's book
and the Empire's answer:

Fahrenheit 451!



A small part of a small section of Patrick Buchanan's new book, A Republic, Not an Empire,  that deals with World War II has sent the media elite (and elite wannabes) into fits of hysteria not seen since the 1964 presidential campaign, when a yet-to-be-rehabilitated Barry Goldwater was depicted as a clinically insane Nazi out to nuke the world. Basically, the Establishment hysteriacs attribute to Buchanan the view that it would have been better if Hitler had won the Second World War. That allegation of pro-Nazism has completely obscured the message of Buchanan's book, which is a warning from history against current American imperial overstretch, not much different from the sort of thing that popular liberal academicians such as Paul Kennedy were writing in the 1980s against U.S. Cold War policy.

Buchanan's fervid foes charge that he has created an "imaginary" history. Establishment-designated hero John McCain, among others, has solemnly intoned that Buchanan has sullied the memories of those Americans who fought in the "noble cause." To pundit Michael Kelly, Buchanan has produced a "fantastic, hideous lie." In a later article, Kelly alleges: "Morally this argument is obscene; historically, it is absurd."

Almost all critics have found the work permeated with the stench of anti-Semitism. The ADL's Abe Foxman manages to call Buchanan "an outspoken Holocaust revisionist." Jay Leno cracks nightly "jokes" about Buchanan as a Nazi. Budding presidential contender Donald Trump refers to Buchanan's "love affair with Hitler." Washington Times editor Wesley Pruden "jokes" that, for a sequel, "Pat himself is at work on the screenplay, which is a story-within-a-story about a jolly guard at Auschwitz who sings and dances in a rollicking prison production of 'Springtime for Hitler.'" From the screams of the established media, one almost gets the impression that it was Buchanan who pushed millions into gas chambers. Remember when the Establishment media used to pontificate about the evils of "McCarthyism," "red-baiting," "ruining people's reputations," and "character assassination"? Well, that only applied to calling people Communists; Nazi smears are perfectly OK (and always have been.)

It turns out that what the smear merchants have alleged and what Buchanan actually wrote on World War II are quite different things. Many Buchanan bashers did not bother to actually read the book; those who did chose to distort his words. Few, if any, exhibit specific knowledge of the events of World War II. Most seem to think that the war revolved around the Holocaust and that, in questioning any aspect of the Allies' war, Buchanan is impugning that most sacred event.

What did Buchanan actually write on World War II? First, Buchanan's history is not the fabrication of a febrile mind; in fact, his interpretation is not even novel. His book relies on the works of reputable historians and is heavily footnoted with scholarly sources. Critics of the book should have picked up on that if they had so much as flipped through it. A few reviewers in the newspapers have pointed out Buchanan's reliance on scholarship. Perhaps most noteworthy was "A Fair Reading of History" by Christopher Layne and Benjamin Schwarz in The New York Times (Sept. 30). There is no excuse, therefore, for even nonreaders of the book to claim that Buchanan fabricated his history.

Of course, one could legitimately reject the views of A.J.P. Taylor, George Kennan, William Henry Chamberlin, Hanson Baldwin, and other experts in the field, but then we would expect to see reasoned counterarguments, complete with substantive counter-evidence, instead of a viscerally driven campaign smearing Buchanan as a crazed Nazi. But the propaganda barrage was most effective in injuring Buchanan's image among the 99.9 percent of the American population who know little or nothing about World War II and its historiography.

One of Buchanan's basic themes regarding World War II is that the Western democracies' policies utterly failed to achieve their (stated) war aims. Britain did not protect Poland with her March 1939 guarantee, but rather abetted Poland's destruction. U.S. involvement in the European war did not bring about a free Europe based on the Atlantic Charter but rather helped replace Nazi domination with Soviet domination. From the standpoint of American security, the war brought about no improvement.

Buchanan quotes no less a figure than Winston Churchill, who said that the West was less secure after World War II than before. (p. 298) The 40-year Cold War and the much-discussed danger of nuclear incineration of the world would seem to underscore Churchill's interpretation. Buchanan's hostile critics hold a eerie Panglossian view that World War II was the best of all possible outcomes. Faced with that view, Buchanan asks: "Do those attacking me realize they are defending the policies that produced World War II and virtual annihilation of the Jewish population of Europe?" It would appear that they do.

Since it has received so much attention from Buchanan's critics, and because it illustrates his fundamental theme of the dangers inherent in extensive international commitments that cannot be fulfilled, the British guarantee to Poland deserves a close look here. Buchanan has exclaimed: "Listening to John McCain, I may be the first man ever read out of the Republican Party for refusing to support the Danzig policy of Neville Chamberlain." The guarantee obviously did not protect Poland. As Buchanan aptly writes: "Ultimately, it was not Poland that benefited from Britain's war guarantee to Warsaw — Poland lost millions of its people and fifty years of freedom — but Stalin." (p. 267)

Britain did not even intend to protect Poland with military power. From the outset, Britain and France intended to fight a defensive war. France would stay safely behind what was believed to be the impregnable Maginot Line. As in the First World War, Britain would rely on her naval blockade, which she believed could starve Germany in three or four years. What the guarantee did was stiffen Polish resistance to Germany's demands to negotiate. And Hitler's stated position in 1939 was relatively mild in light of what happened once the war actually started. He demanded self-determination for the free city of Danzig (which would have opted to join Germany), and the establishment of an extraterritorial highway and railroad across the Polish Corridor connecting the main part of Germany with East Prussia.

Germany destroyed Poland in the war and resulting occupation. It's estimated that 3 million Polish gentiles were killed by the Germans along with 3 million Polish Jews. The Establishment has proclaimed the Holocaust as the World's Greatest Evil. If such an ultimate evil took place following upon Polish resistance, one wonders what would have happened if Poland had made concessions to Germany. Now, it is quite likely that Hitler would have made much greater demands against Poland. Perhaps he would have acted no differently toward Poland and the Jews than he did — but the outcome could not have been worse than the ultimate evil of the Holocaust. Hitler could not have exterminated more Polish Jews.

Germany was not the only country to invade Poland: the Soviet Union invaded a few weeks after Germany. In essence, the Soviet Union, like Germany, committed the crime of aggressive war. The Soviet Union, like Germany, violated the British guarantee of Poland's territorial integrity. But the British did not declare war on the Soviet Union. And, of course, the Soviet Union, with the approval of Britain and the United States, would control Poland for more than 40 years after the war. Moreover, Stalin, like Hitler, engaged in mass murder against the people of Poland.

Buchanan-haters have also gone bonkers over Buchanan's alleged contention that Hitler did not threaten the United States. But Buchanan does not exactly say that. He writes that in 1940-41, Hitler made "no overt move to threaten U.S. vital interests." (p. 268) Here Buchanan is simply stating a simple fact, which his critics have not attempted to refute. Buchanan holds that, at that time, Hitler's designs lay in Eastern Europe at the expense of the Soviet Union. That assertion, too, would hardly seem to be controversial. Although Franklin Roosevelt publicized an absurd map counterfeited by British intelligence showing German plans for taking over South America, Hitler does not seem to have had any immediate plans to attack the United States. He had all that he could manage in a war with the Soviet Union that was steadily becoming more difficult, and Britain with her vast empire still lay undefeated. Any attack on the United States would be an immense undertaking — requiring bases, naval forces, and logistical support — that was far beyond Germany's capability at the time.

Since Hitler's focus in 1941 was on the Soviet Union, taking on the United States would only make his war more difficult. Hitler ordered his U-boat commanders to avoid incidents with American ships. Nonetheless, U.S. convoys and patrols engaged in a shooting war with German submarines in the Atlantic. The U.S. Navy was generally the aggressor, though Roosevelt's public pronouncements distorted events in order to turn American opinion toward war. That is the straightforward, conventional historical interpretation, which Buchanan brings out in his book. Buchanan cites Winston Churchill's explanation of how Roosevelt was trying to bring about naval confrontation with Germany. In the wake of Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on the United States, after concluding that the United States would soon begin full-scale war with Germany as a result of naval incidents. He sought to gain the good will of Japan by declaring war first, hoping that the Japanese would reciprocate and make war on Russia.

Although Germany did not threaten the United States in 1941, it can be reasonably argued that a Nazi Germany victorious in Europe would pose a long-term threat to the United States. Some of Buchanan's critics make much of that — without admitting that Buchanan does not state otherwise. But while it can be maintained that a victorious Nazi Germany would pose a long-term threat to the United States, that does not mean that such a situation would have been any worse than the one that did emerge after 1945, with the Soviet Union dominant in Central and Eastern Europe, and a powerful pro-Moscow Communist movement active throughout the world. Further, there is no reason to believe that Nazi Germany had the capability to defeat the Soviet Union even in the absence of major U.S. aid to the latter.

Political scientist Bruce M. Russett reviewed some of those arguments in his No Clear and Present Danger,  which came out in 1972, and argued that the most likely result of the Russo-German war would have been a stalemate. In 1972 even liberal academicians could question the assumptions of World War II, and Russett maintained that U.S. security imperatives had not mandated war against Nazi Germany. It should be emphasized that Buchanan, unlike Russett, really doesn't develop the theme that the United States never should have gone to war against Germany, nor does he argue that a victorious Germany would never be a threat to the United States.

Although Buchanan criticizes some warlike actions on the part of the United States and her allies, at other times he writes in a more neutral vein regarding the overall question of American intervention into the war. Of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Buchanan says: "Whether or not it had been America's war before December 7, it was our war now." (p. 294) In regard to the "isolationists'" opposition to involvement in the war, Buchanan writes: "Perhaps they were wrong." (p. 295).

One matter that Buchanan does hit hard, in his section on World War II, is how Roosevelt manipulated the country into war against the will of the American people. Buchanan writes: "The people of the world's greatest republic, on an issue of life and death, were treated like children who could not understand their true interests, and had to be manipulated and deceived into doing the right thing." (p. 295). There is a fundamental reason why Buchanan devotes such space to Roosevelt's deception: it illustrates how foreign interventionism militates against a self-governing republic. Moreover, Buchanan points out that the Roosevelt administration smeared as traitorous the anti-interventionist America First Committee, who were only exercising their political rights in a self-governing republic.

It is of great significance that the Buchanan-bashers devote no attention to Buchanan's arguments here. Undoubtedly they admire Roosevelt's deception. Undoubtedly they prefer the "imperial presidency" (when the correct president is in office) over a self-governing republic. However, they are unwilling to bring that out in the open. Support for an overt "empire" and "emperor" has not yet become acceptable to the American people; it is still necessary to maintain the fiction of self-government.

Buchanan-haters are most enraged about Buchanan's alleged rejection of morality in foreign policy. World War II was, after all, the "Good War." There was a moral imperative to destroy Nazism, which perpetrated the greatest evil in human history, the Holocaust. Yet Hitler must be compared with Stalin. If America really was concerned about fighting genocide, why didn't she intervene in the mid 1930s when Stalin was killing millions of Ukrainians in a government-induced famine? If they were concerned about morality, why would the Western Allies seek an alliance with such a mass murderer? Roosevelt and Churchill retailed idealistic preachments about a liberated Europe, but they ratified Stalin's takeover of Central and Eastern Europe — an imperial expansion that would entail ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forcible communization. As Buchanan writes: "At Teheran and Yalta, Churchill and FDR treated their own Atlantic Charter as irrelevant." (p. 307) In Operation Keelhaul the British and the Americans actually abetted Soviet mass murder by forcibly repatriating millions of Soviets, including some non-Soviet citizens, to the Soviet Union, where they would face agonizing death in the Gulag. That was little different from the policies of European countries that turned Jews over to the Nazis.

And most notably, in the World War II that was actually fought (as opposed to the mythical war worshiped by most media pundits), no effort was made to counter the Holocaust. Neither Britain in 1939 nor the United States in 1941 entered the war to prevent the Holocaust. Although Jews were suffering severe oppression including murder, historians tell us that gas chambers and large- scale extermination of Jews did not take place until after December 1941.

The Allies did nothing to save Jews during the war, such as bombing gas chambers and the rail lines to the death camps. Wartime opportunities to bargain with the Germans for Jewish lives were ignored. The policy of "unconditional surrender" militated against making peace with a non-Hitler Germany that could have stopped the policy of killing Jews. Further discouraging a German surrender was the announcement during the war of the "Morgenthau Plan" calling for the pastoralization of postwar Germany — that is, the elimination of Germany's industry, which if fully implemented would have engendered famine, epidemics, and a grinding peasant-like subsistence for the survivors. In essence, the Anglo-American policy during the World War II was oriented toward punishing Germans even if that meant more Jewish deaths.


Why have Buchanan's foes distorted and caricatured his views so maliciously? First, I must point out that World War II and Nazi Germany have become inextricably connected to the Holocaust in the minds of most Americans, including members of the punditocracy. They have little knowledge of the specifics of World War II, but they have heard a lot about the Holocaust, which is presented as the worst evil in human history. They naturally assume that the war was an effort to stop the Holocaust. World War II is thus the "Good War"; it has become a sacred myth. Of course, that myth did not simply arise from the grass roots but instead has been cultivated and enforced by the Establishment media. To question any aspect of the war is to question the Holocaust and the sanctity of the war. That amounts to a "four legs good, two legs bad" level of thinking, but it is the level at which most Americans think. It is not really necessary to know any more in order to be Politically Correct. In fact, some knowledge might make it difficult to present the PC line with a clear conscience. And since the World War II myth is enforced with various rewards and punishments, nonthought is definitely a Darwinian survival mechanism.

For Zionists, who are well-represented in the media, Buchanan's criticism of the Israeli lobby and American favoritism toward Israel has earned their undying enmity. But for them to simply condemn Buchanan for opposing Israel or her lobby doesn't demonize him in the eyes of most Americans in the way that branding him a Nazi does. However, the Zionist depiction of Buchanan as a Nazi probably represents something more than a weapon with which to smear an enemy; in all likelihood, many Zionists actually believe that criticism of Israel or the Israeli lobby is tantamount to Nazism.

For global interventionists, who also loom large in the media (and who may also be pro-Zionist, though that is not necessarily the case), Buchanan's noninterventionist views make him an inveterate enemy who must be stopped by any means necessary. Moreover, the "Good War" myth is an invaluable propaganda instrument for justifying global interventionism; it must be defended.

Some of Buchanan's sympathizers have claimed that he should never have touched on the World War II myth, which has provided his enemies a weapon with which to hammer him. But Buchanan is not the usual issueless candidate simply concerned about winning votes. He wants to spread his beliefs — the most important one, perhaps, being the dire danger facing the United States resulting from its ongoing policy of global interventionism. The myth of World War II is a crucial instrument used by the global interventionists to justify their policy. Leaders of countries targeted for attack are regularly depicted as "Hitlers" bent on aggression and genocide. In order to curb American global hegemony, it is therefore essential to demystify World War II.

What has recent American global interventionism entailed? The genocidal boycott of Iraq has caused the death of 1.7 million people. The U.S./NATO attack on Serbia was just as much a violation of national sovereignty as Hitler's attack on Poland in September 1939, judged to be the greatest Nazi crime ("aggressive war") at the major Nuremberg trial. The attack on Serbia and the expansion of NATO have had the effect of returning Russia to the status of an enemy. Russia and China are joining together to counter American globalism. All countries realize that the only sure way to prevent U.S. aggression is to develop and maintain military power — especially nuclear weapons. Buchanan warns that American global militancy is ineluctably heading toward a major war — perhaps the global nuclear war that many liberals incessantly warned about during the Cold War. But irony of ironies, because Buchanan warns of the dangers of war, he is almost universally portrayed as a hateful Nazi.

The Ministry of Truth ... was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, three hundred meters into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:




George Orwell, 1984


October 13, 1999


This version © 1999 by WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.

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