JISHOU, HUNAN — Is Pat Buchanan mindnumbingly stupid, or does he secretly adore Adolph Hitler?
Nevermind, I can answer the question myself.
A couple of the blogs I visit refer to Buchanan’s essay for Chronicles magazine, in which he suggests that the Allies pushed Hitler into declaring war on practically everyone in Europe. No, says the big B, it wasn’t that Hitler really intended to go to war; he really had no choice.
Well, being somewhat of a history buff, with World War II one of my interests, I decided to read the essay myself to see exactly what Buchanan has to say on the 70th anniversary of the war’s beginning.
The man is a blithering idiot, and/or an apologist for one of history’s most power-hungry dictators.
Following World War I (the last time Germany tried to take over Europe), the Treaty of Versailles gave Danzig, a city that was heavily German in population, to Poland. Kind of unfair, in retrospect, but the winners of the war were trying to keep Germany weak.
Buchanan suggests in his essay that Hitler, in occupying Danzig in 1939, was merely taking back what Germany should rightfully have had. Those stubborn Poles, “a junta of Polish colonels,” Buchanan says, refused to negotiate with Germany because they had Britain’s word the Crown would rush to their defense should Germany invade. So, the European war was their fault, and Britain’s, because they wouldn’t let Germany have what it should have had all along.
Buchanan makes Neville Chamberlain look bold and resolute in comparison.
No mention here of the Treaty of Versailles, which although Germany signed it unwillingly, was still binding. The Treaty gave Danzig to Poland and (Buchanan missed this fine print in his research) also denied Germany a strong enough military to even invade another country.
Hitler willfully abrogated the Treaty of Versailles many times over, but Buchanan prefers to blame Poland and Britain for starting WWII?
He continues with one of the most clueless statements I have read since the last time Sarah Palin spoke publicly:
...where is the evidence that Adolf Hitler, whose victims as of March 1939 were a fraction of Gen. Pinochet’s, or Fidel Castro’s, was out to conquer the world?
Um, well, he said he wanted to? Mein Kampf was basically Hitler's grand plan to unite all Germans into a new, stronger Fatherland. The fact that hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans lived in neighboring countries was just a minor detail. Hitler wanted Danzig because it was populated mostly by Germans.
The Nazis then marched into Czechoslovakia, ostensibly to bring the Germans back into the fold, as it were, but also conveniently to partition and weaken Czechoslovakia. Buchanan asks, "Now one may despise what was done, but how did this partition of Czechoslovakia manifest a Hitlerian drive for world conquest?"
Let's check the Nazi score card so far, Pat. Occupy Austria (1938). Pack Danzig with Nazi sympathizers, who favor annexation. Invade Poland, take Danzig. Encircle Warsaw. (1939) Invade Czechoslovakia, take the Sudetenland. (1938) Torpedo cruise ships in the Atlantic. (1939) Announce plans to invade Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. (1939) Proceed to invade France, the Low Countries, Denmark, and Norway. (1940)
And Hitler was just getting started. But Buchanan, rather than allow facts cloud his argument, offers rhetorical whoppers like:
But if Hitler was out to conquer the world—Britain, Africa, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, South America, India, Asia, Australia—why did he spend three years building that hugely expensive Siegfried Line to protect Germany from France? Why did he start the war with no surface fleet, no troop transports and only 29 oceangoing submarines? How do you conquer the world with a navy that can’t get out of the Baltic Sea?
If Hitler wanted the world, why did he not build strategic bombers, instead of two-engine Dorniers and Heinkels that could not even reach Britain from Germany?
Why did he let the British army go at Dunkirk?
Why did he offer the British peace, twice, after Poland fell, and again after France fell?
Why, when Paris fell, did Hitler not demand the French fleet, as the Allies demanded and got the Kaiser’s fleet? Why did he not demand bases in French-controlled Syria to attack Suez? Why did he beg Benito Mussolini not to attack Greece?
Because Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps.
He wanted to end the war. He wanted to end the war. For chrissakes, the Nazis already occupied most of western Europe by 1940! And Hitler was planning to invade Britain, too. Where does Buchanan get the notion that Hitler wanted to stop?
True, Hitler’s military strategy was erratic and illogical, as Buchanan notes. Hitler himself was erratic and illogical, ignoring his own military advisors and countermanding their orders. Buchanan the Hitler fanboi glosses over that aspect of Hitler’s psyche.
Here’s some more of Buchanan’s razor sharp logic.
Indeed, why would he want war when, by 1939, he was surrounded by allied, friendly or neutral neighbors, save France.
Neighbors that he had either invaded, strongarmed, or whipped into submission. Sure they were allies.
As of March 1939, Hitler did not even have a border with Russia. How then could he invade Russia?
By marching through the bordering countries, which he, um, did, Pat, in 1941. Maybe you didn’t read that far in your WWII for Dummies book.
Now, if Buchanan’s Nazi apologetics were just an isolated case of Hitler fanboi-ism, I would not feel compelled to highlight the sheer stupidity of these remarks. But, if you’ve noticed recently, a lot of right wingers — including those charming people at Tea Parties and town hall meetings — like to compare President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler, and suggest health care reform is but one of many steps toward a Nazi-like government takeover of the USA.
Seventy years after WWII began, it’s as if Hitler and the Nazis have for some people passed into the stuff of legend or myth. There’s a disconnection from reality going on here. Hitler wasn’t really bent on world domination. He just wanted what was rightfully his. He didn’t systematically deprive Germans of freedom of speech and religion, fill their minds with propaganda, and essentially steal their children and their livelihoods for his war machine. He didn’t really kill 6 million Jews. All he did was to generate convenient metaphors for “all that’s bad” or “all the stuff we don’t agree with.”
In a word, a lot of the rightwing has gotten soft on Nazis. One wonders if they don’t secretly want to identify with the Nationalist Socialist Party, or see the now-liberal bent to American politics as an excuse for a Nazi-like coup d’etat (as some nutjobs have increasingly suggested should happen).
If it were just the fringe element (like Buchanan) spouting this kind of invective, I wouldn’t be so alarmed, but so-called “mainstream” Republicans — actual elected officials! — are saying the same kind of craziness. And GOP voters seem to going along for the ride.
It’s time the Republicans dumped the far-right-wing element into the trash heap where it belongs, before whackos drag the whole party down the path to perdition. We don’t need no Nazi-lovers in government.
I found this blog, written by a real historian, just today. (9/9/09) His remarks are briefer than mine and ridicule Buchanan’s revisionism more savagely, besides.