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Wednesday, 14 August 2013


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In 1914 Churchill was 1st Lord of the admiralty in Asquith'S government. He was the only enthusiastic cabinet member in favour of war with Germany, at a time when Britain could have avoided war and when Germany had no desire to fight Britain at all. The war was an unmitigated disaster for Britain with appalling loss of young men and subsequent decline of Britain as a world power.
In 1939 Germany had no designs on Britain, no intention to fight Britain, and again when Britain had no need to go to war. Again Churchill could not restrain himself in his desire for war. Almost singlehandedly he took us into a second world war, drew the USA in with him, with the ultimate result that the USSR dominated Europe and kept us on a profitless course of permanent war footing for decades.
Churchill was a warmonger. He, with help from the old establishment, beggared the country and set a precedent followed by successive governments, of jumping into every war that comes within range. The political class use the wealth and blood of the nation for their own interests, not ours.

"with help from the old establishment": on the contrary, the old establishment was always against Churchill, viewing him as belligerent, foolhardy, headstrong and a man of routinely woeful judgement. (Which was pretty much the view of him my father urged on me.)

"Almost singlehandedly he took us into a second world war": oh come now - he didn't become P.M. until 1940. It was Chamberlain who decided on war while Churchill was a backbencher.

"... drew the USA in with him": you don't think that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the declaration of war on the USA by Hitler might have been more important?

In 1914 the decision to go to war was made by the cabinet under the persuasion of its leading lights Asquith and Lloyd George - to dish the Tories, according to Niall Ferguson - not by Churchill.

Hello, Arthur, I seem to recall your name from way back when so welcome back to D&N.

I totally disagree with you concerning German war aims in the run up to WWI. The Kaiser, encouraged by Tirpitz, did not try and out build the British fleet for no reason! As Churchill pointed out at the time, as a truly global power our fleet was *essential* but a similar fleet for a European power was not - so why was it being built at all? Pause a moment and suppose that if we had stood back the chances are that the Germans would have overrun France which would have given them naval control of the Atlantic and Mediterranean ports instead of having their fleet bottled up in Wilhelmshaven and the North Sea. How long before they began mischief-making, do you think? And remember, then, as in 1939, we utterly depended on imports of food!

In 1940 the Germans achieved what they failed to do in 1914 and defeated France. There is a case, spurious in my view, that we could have stood back and allowed Germany and Russia to slog it out but suppose for a moment that unencumbered by war with Britain, Hitler had managed to knock out Russia - which it very nearly managed anyway. Then, with the whole continent under his heel, how long do you think Hitler would have put up with an independent and potentially hostile Britain? It was Churchill and the lone stand by the British people in 1940 that helped shift the neutral tectonic plates in America and helped FDR in his desire to aid us - short of war. Had we stood idly by and watched France and Russia go under there would have been minimal sympathy for Britain and after the Japanese attack the Americans would have turned their backs on us and concentrated everything in the Far East.

Even Holmes in his critical book rubbishes the old Left-wing nonsense that Churchill was a war-monger. Churchill had seen and experienced war at the very sharpest of sharp ends and writes movingly of the waste of it all BUT war is part of the human condition and only a fool would believe it can be avoided for ever.

Remember that the war finished 68 years ago. Hitler would by now have been dead many years and Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, except Spain and the UK, would be united and much further developed than it was. The USSR and communism long gone. The UK would have avoided years of cold war. The US always had the UK in it's sights as a rival until 1939, and was content to let the UK bleed to death slowly until it was reluctantly forced into the war.
Churchill could never resist the romance of war from his youth.
We cannot know how the world might have developed if we had resisted going to war, but we can reasonably assume that we would be much wealthier, genetically better without the wastage of our best young men in two world wars, and political development may well have brought about a happy healthy Europe.

Hmmmn! "political development may well have brought about a happy healthy Europe.

Somehow, Arthur, perhaps due to my lack of imagination, I really can't think of a pan-Hitlerian Europe in those terms. And you are still assuming that Hitler would have left us in peace, unless of course you are thinking, perhaps, that we should have joined with him!

"Churchill could never resist the romance of war from his youth"

Simply not so. In 1909 he was dead set against spending any more money on the forces and it was only later when he became First Lord and when the threat from Wilhelmine Germany was beyond doubt that he changed his mind and demanded more money for the fleet. In his own words at the end of the Boer war:

"When we go to war our conceit costs us much in blood and honour. We are always absolutely sure that the enemy will not dare to attack us, and so certain that he will fly at our approach. I have scarcely seen an action in this war which officers of a certain class have not begun with an incredulous sniff ... then suddenly -Bang! - and another glorious page is added to British military history.

This was not a man in love with war which he had seen up close and brutally personal (he actually saw his brother Jack hit) from India, to the Sudan, to South Africa and on the Western Front. In fact, this was a man who would only go to war fi he honestly perceived a very real threat to his nation's interests.

There's no doubt that some hagiography was been written about Churchill; it's good to know that Holmes' book isn't an example.

But for real hagiography you have to look at US biographies of US Presidents. Here's a recent example: "His book is not biography but hagiography. He treats Kennedy as a moral visionary, the only man who possessed the gifts of oratory and character necessary to change the course of history at this perilous moment." Etc, etc, et bloody cetera.

Hagiography about a Kennedy, any Kennedy, is political propaganda, to advance the Demagogue party's interests. It's likely that a majority of Americans do not believe that crap, no matter how enthusiastically it is shoveled at us.

Arthur, I am a recovering Democrat. If I share with you anything that I have learned about unraveling the tangled web of lies, please take it in the same spirit as you would a tip about which fishing lure to use, if we were engaged in that endeavour. The truly basic thing to remember is that America's default position is isolationism. My grandparents' generation assumed that WWII was yet another mess the Europeans had made for themselves. Roosevelt, of whom I can rarely say anything nice, did, indeed see that Germany and Japan were a danger to us, over the long term. He could not declare war, a fact not well understood outside the US, but he could work us into being the 'arsenal of democracy'. Some people have alleged that he waited for the Japanese to attack us, even took few protective measures, so that the attack, when it came, would be more inflammatory. That does not bear up under scrutiny, but, he did, indeed, need for the Axis to commit some serious provocation before he could get Congress to declare war. Also, remember that a significant portion of Hollywood was Communist, so that many movies, until June 1941, were neutral, so as not to get us into any confrontation with the Beloved Motherland. The Communists might, indeed, be happy to let Britain bleed white, because the British were seen as the leading anti-Communist power, but they were definitely a minority, even in Hollywood, and surely of America. Nevertheless, going back to the most essential, little effort was required to persuade Americans to want to stay out of another European war. If Britain had been attacked, we were pledged to come to your aid. Poland? We had no treaty with them, little understanding that Germany would actually kill off as many Poles as possible, to clear them out, to make room for German settlement. Who would have believed such a thing, before WWII? The other basic idea to understand is that propaganda memes float out there, until we think we thought of them ourselves. They are not good building blocks for sound theories. As a useful exercise, who would benefit, if they could get you to believe that Americans wanted to bleed you white?

Michael, I tend to agree with a lot of what you say here.
My ex-husband is Polish and I think they would disagree with your thoughts regarding Hitler's plans for them.
They knew!

DM, that was a fascinating review. However, I can't help thinking that these days no politician/statesman can stand up to the sort of scrutiny that is now, with the retention of documents, available to biographers.

Michael, I agree that FDR faced intractable opposition from a Congress which had no desire to join a European war - and Congress, of course, knew all too well that they were reflecting the general opinion of the American public. However, one of the many 'what ifs' of history is to ask what they would have done if Hitler had not declared war on the USA with such alacrity? Not much, is my guess! And nor do I blame them, by and large ordinary people rather sensibly want to avoid war like the plague and they are not trained to understand geopolitics.

Good morning, Andra. (Well, it's 06:06 here;) I am sure that the Poles knew. Sadly, there were not so many Polish-Americans, who would have been pretty vocal in raising the alarm. The only Polish community in Texas, Pane Maria, had under five thousand people, even seventy years ago. It has shrunk, now, people moving to cities for jobs, leaving agricultural land behind, same pattern in Australia, no doubt.

As for the US leaving Hitler alone if he had not declared war on us, nah, he was allied with the Japanese, and we had enough anger left over from the Japanese, after Pearl Harbor, we'd have declared war on Grand Fenwick, if they'd made a peep of support for the Japanese. Victor Davis Hanson has written a good deal about the Western Way of War. (His books are available on Amazon, and from those used book-sellers you can reach through Amazon.) We, going back to the ancient Greeks, hate war, and we fight it with everything we have, if we actually have to fight. The Nazis sort of turned this around, making war on civilians, enslaving them, etc. This was a reversion, as the past twenty five centuries had moved toward greater ferocity toward combatants, and protection for civilians.

OK, Flossing. The eighth virtue.

"Flossing" iz stricktly verboten und zis vill bring forward korrection!

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