Sunday, June 15, 2008


This is a very old debate and one in which I have long taken an interest but I think there are far more important things to talk about today. Nonetheless, the recent issue of two books that raise the question anew does seem to legitimate at least a brief comment from me.

The Leftist book concerned (by novelist Nicholson Baker) is reviewed here and the conservative book (by Pat Buchanan) is reviewed here. I will confine myself to mentioning what I think are the important points that the reviews pass over.

The Baker book seems to center strongly on the flaws in Churchill's actions -- in keeping with the usual Leftist ad hominem style of argument. There is of course no doubt that Churchill was a flawed human being and there are acts by Churchill that I deplore too (the fire bombings, the "repatriation" of the Cossacks etc). Baker however in essence claims that it was only the character faults of Churchill and FDR that caused them to make war on Hitler. He seems to think we would all have been fine if the British and American bombers had stayed home.

That is all deeply unserious, however. You have to look at the political and strategic realities behind the declarations of war if you are to evaluate them intelligently. Blaming everything on the conspiracies of bad men is very Leftist but it betrays no real effort at understanding at all. All it tells us is that the speaker/writer is steamed up about something and is too stupid or lazy to investigate how it really came about. Baker seems to think that a pacifist response to Hitler would have worked in some way. The generally passive response of the German Jews to their persecution should have told Baker how well that worked with Hitler.

So on to the Buchanan book. Sadly, the reviewer there also seems inclined to play the man and not the ball. He is very abusive about Buchanan and is less than fair in evaluating Buchanan's arguments. I think that Buchanan is wrong in his conclusions but he is not so far wrong as to be completely dismissed.

The critic completely dismisses Buchanan's argument that Hitler had no designs on Britain and in fact regarded them as racial comrades -- so Britain had nothing to fear and no reason to go to war. There is no doubt that Hitler himself argued exactly that way. I have myself heard a recording of one of his speeches to that effect. So dismissing the argument out of hand is pretty slapdash history.

I myself think that the jury will always be out on that one. It seems strange that I have to stress it but Hitler WAS a racist and there is no doubt that the Britrish and the Germans are essentially the same race. So the idea that Hitler might have given very favourable consideration to the racial identity of the British is hardly far-fetched. The remarkably benign German occupation of Denmark is even a test-case of sorts.

But, as a good conservative, Churchill was cautious and there was no doubt in his mind that Hitler was an example of that most-disapproved type of person in a British value-system of the time: A man who "goes too far". Churchill saw that Hitler recognized no constraints on his actions and that Hitler's rhetoric was full of anger and hate. And Churchill could not entrust the world to such a man. So Churchill swung British foreign policy into its traditional "balance of power" role and ensured that NOBODY would ever come to dominate the whole of Europe. With what we now know about Hitler, I think we can be glad that Britain found a man who at the last moment activated that traditional British policy.

Note that it was actually Chamberlain who declared war on Germany. But it is Churchill who made it stick.



There's a good satirical site about Obama here. It even has his birth certificate!

Perverse perceptions: "The way we are could use some work, but overall, is pretty good. The way we think we are is terrible, horrible, awful. Possibly worse. The case that things are basically pretty good? Unemployment is 5.5%, low by historical standards; income is rising slightly ahead of inflation; housing prices are down, but the typical house is still worth a third more than in 2000; 94% of Americans do not have threatened mortgages, and of those who do, most will keep their homes. Inflation was up in 2007, but this stands out because the 16 previous years were close to inflation-free; living standards are the highest they have ever been, including living standards for the middle class and for the poor. All forms of pollution other than greenhouse gases are in decline; cancer, heart disease and stroke incidence are declining; crime is in a long-term cycle of significant decline; education levels are at all-time highs. Sure, gas prices are up, the dollar is weak and credit is tight - but these are complaints at the margin of a mainly healthy society. So why do we think the economy is failing? Increasing pessimism from the news media is surely a factor - and the media grow ever-better at giving negative impressions. Now we don't just hear about threats or natural disasters, we see immediate live footage, creating the impression that threats and disasters are everywhere.

The crazy Dutch: "In July, the Dutch government will introduce a nationwide smoking ban in bars, cafes and restaurants, aimed at protecting workers... Perversely, the law, intended to protect workers from smoke, only applies to tobacco. In the Netherlands, that has resulted in a rather bizarre result: Smoking pot or hashish in coffee shops will remain legal; it just can't be mixed with tobacco. If someone wants to roll their joint with tobacco, then they have to smoke it outside."

Democrat voter drive investigated for fraud: "Louisiana's top election official has launched an investigation into a voter registration drive by the Washington-based Voting is Power organization, which is sponsored by the Muslim American Society and was hired by Democrats, after registrars were "flooded" with fake forms, including a couple for a gentleman named George W. Bush. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne said this week he already has met with Voting Is Power, which has a stated goal of signing up millions of Muslims to vote in U.S. elections, and the discussions were cordial. He said he's seeking information about the company's methodology and information on why so many voter registration applications turned out to be incomplete, duplicates, or just plain fraudulent."

Subsidies: a big culprit in high gas prices: "In China, the government caps gas prices. Drivers there pay about half of what Americans pay. In many countries, oil prices are held artificially low, either by fiat or subsidy. The result? Consumption keeps rising, boosting global prices. The rest of the world - the part now racing to conserve - ends up paying more than it should. Unfair? Yes, say global actors such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is calling on governments to let consumers face market prices in order to kick-start conservation and reduce official spending. About half of humanity, from India to Chile, now benefits from cut-rate petroleum prices. In 2008, these countries will account for all the growth in world oil demand, or an additional one million barrels a day, according to Deutsche Bank. Their consumption will be the highest in eight years. And these subsidies will cost as much as $100 billion in 2008, or twice as much as last year, estimates the International Energy Agency. That would be money better spent on reducing oil use - what's called "demand erosion" - than encouraging it. And sadly, it is the rich who benefit the most. The IMF says the top one-fifth of households in income receive 42 percent of fuel subsidies because they are the heaviest users."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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