Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Thursday, 8 May 2008

The End of Victory in Europe

We no longer commemorate V.E. Day like we used to.

Churchill_waves_to_crowdsThe European Union is no doubt relieved that popular commemorations of V.E. Day, such as the 60th and especially the 50th anniversary, are now behind it. Whilst the dwindling band of Commonwealth veterans across the Royal Legions and the Royal Ex-Services League will continue to remember the occasion to the very end, you likely won't hear much from officialdom any more. I suspect it is quickly fading from the fashion of polite society everywhere, apart from inside Russia's pantheon of national patriotic glory, even though Europhiles often use the horrors of the Second World War as the European Union's raison d’être.

This was to be expected, for the victory sign long ago became politically incorrect. What was not expected, however, is the traction current revisionist thinkers are getting on dissenting from 'the good war' theory, and the unprecedented doubt this is causing men of a Churchillian bent. Peter Hitchens, for example, admits to being shaken to the bottom of his soul, and more than a few paleocons in the United States seem more than momentarily impressed, by two books published in time for this year's commemoration.

The first book, Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker, looks to be a half-baked waste of time in my view, but Churchill, Hitler And The Unnecessary War by Patrick Buchanan, seems more than worth the effort. It has long been postulated by Buchanan that the British Empire and the United States should have stayed out to let Hitler and Stalin disembowel each other. It is a view I reject, but it is nonethless interesting to ponder what benefits, if any, would have come of it.

Would the Imperial Commonwealth have been saved from its postwar Great Power decline? Could Britain have staved off bankruptcy even though it still would have had to spend enormously on defences? Would the Soviet Union have beaten Nazi Germany without Allied bombing and the post D-day victories? Did Hitler admire the British Empire to the point where he would have left it well enough alone? And what reward bequeaths to the United Kingdom 63 years after the end of the most brutal episode in world history?

Because, Peter Hitchens goes on, "at the end of it all, Germany dominates Europe behind the smokescreen of the EU; our Empire and our rule of the seas have gone, we struggle with all the problems of a great civilisation in decline, and our special friend, the USA, has smilingly supplanted us for ever. But we won the war". Happy V.E. Day.

15 comments:

Lord Best said...

Australia's appreciation of its military heritage is increasing, so at least it is not happening everywhere.

The Wehrmacht was the greatest modern fighting force the world has ever seen, it took all the worlds superpowers combined strength to take it down, and it was a close run thing.
Buchanan is mad if he thinks WWII was uneccessary. It was going to happen, it may have started later under some hypothetical circumstance but it was going to happen.
And let us remember that much modern technology we take for granted developed as a direct result of WWII. Some good came out of it in that respect.
My view, from a British perspective, is that WWI was unecessary. The Empire could have stayed out of it (the Kaiser did not want a war with Great Britain) and saved itself a great deal of money, manpower and a great deal of sub-par poetry.
I think it is a bit rough to say that Germany is the driving force behind the EU when the EU is as increasingly unpopular there as it is in Britain. Seems to be a bit of the 'old enemy syndrome' popping up.

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall that there were one or two areas of europe that needed liberating, apart from the small dispute to the east. France, Holland, Norway, Czechoslovakia...

But Hitler would never have bothered those countries if we hadn't stepped into the dustup over Poland...right?

Burton

El Jefe Maximo said...

If Britain and France had stood aside over Poland in 1939 -- just let Hitler and Stalin partition it, I tend to think that would just be moving the disaster to another time and place.

Whether it was in the long term interest of Britain or France to allow Hitler to build an Empire in the east (eventually, I think the war with Russia was certainly going to happen); and whether Hitler would leave the west alone indefinitely are questions we can't know the answers to-- and Britain and France couldn't know them either. But if Hitler DID ever look westward, then Britain and France would still have the confrontation they might have missed in Sept. 39, under arguibly less favorable circumstances (the French and British could not be expected to foresee the French collapse in 1940).

I tend to think it's six of one, half dozen of the other. I don't think the British and French could put off a showdown with Hitler forever. But the issue of when they should have thrown down the gauntlet is more debatable.

Confronting Hitler in September 39 over Poland was a lot harder to explain or justify, and more dangerous, than confronting him in September 1938 over Czechslovakia. Munich seems like the last really good chance to stop Hitler without wrecking Europe. Yes, the British had a chance to build up the RAF, but the Germans had a chance to build up the Heer too, and the relative gain there was greater. The Germans were ready for a war in 39, more ready anyway than in 38. Once the British swallowed Munich, it's harder to explain why they didn't swallow Danzig.

The more interesting question to me has always been British participation in the FIRST World War. I've always wondered if that was a mistake. I mean the whole horrible thing was a mistake that everyone but the lunatics lost, but Britain gained nothing whatever from that conflict.

Beaverbrook said...

Hitler needed to be contained. There's a good possibility he would have kept going, if he managed to defeat the Soviet Union. Every win just fueled his appetite for more, as if he was bent on World Domination. But there's also a good possibility that he would have been so badly mauled by the Russian Bear, that he would have had to stop for good.

Choosing not to fight the Nazi menace because of grand strategy does however neglect the moral imperatives of taking on a genocidal maniac. If the fall of the Empire was the price we had to pay to save humanity from enslavement and the death camps, then so be it. It is comparatively a small price to pay, even if Buchanan and 'America First' adherents can never appreciate that basic fact.

We fought the good war, people. I don't care what anyone says.

Lord Best said...

Of course, if we had not entered the war, sixty years on people would be saying "Look at how many people died in the Nazi occupation of the Old World, why didn't Great Britain stand up to Hitler when they had the chance!"

El Jefe Maximo said...

Maybe Best, but consider that most of the records would have been in the control of the totalitarians or their heirs. Much like the Gulag in the Soviet Union, much of the true story of the Nazi atrocities would never have been known, or only been rumored; with the information trickling out slowly at best.

The overrunning of Germany, the capture of so much of the Hitler regime's files and personnel, and the actual liberation of victims means we know much more about the Nazi atrocities than those of the communist regime in the Soviet Union -- probably much larger in raw numbers, but we never had as much direct evidence.

No doubt a victorious Nazi regime would have eventually produced some kind of Gorbachev or Khrushchev liberalizing figure. But the full truth of the monstrous crimes committed by the Nazis might well have not been appreciated to the degree that it is in our world.

My point is that the British may well have been criticized in such a world, but probably not because of what the Nazis did in Europe, or for not "stopping them"...but for other reasons. I mean, in theory, we could all be criticized in our world for not nipping the whole communist problem in the bud after the First World War by more effective aid to the anti-communists -- but despite all the casualties of Stalinism -- today, that doesn't look like it would have been a good idea. But we can't know that now.

In the case of a Europe with no September 39 -- probably there'd be professors selling books saying the whole issue of a German dominated Europe could have been avoided if Great Britain had "stood up to Hitler" over Poland. But that would probably be very much a minority view, or "revisionist history" or some such thing -- much like the Buchanan book is in our world.

We all tend to think that the world we wound up with, the world that we finally live in, was more inevitable than not.

Aeneas the Younger said...

The irony of it all is that the US paid to re-build Europe whilst DEMANDING that Great Britain repay it's war debts. Thus, the Enemy was restored and one of the primary Victors was destroyed. And THIS was American Policy. And it was a considered and deliberate one at that ...

Aeneas the Younger said...

Buchanan is an idiot.

"Churchill’s astonishing blindness to Stalin’s true ambitions" !

Churchill was many things; one thing he was NOT, was blind to Stalin's ambitions.

The Americans were the blind ones vis-a-vis Stalin.

The ignorance of Americans continues to make my blood boil.

El Jefe Maximo said...

(Noises of throat clearing).

Being of the American persuasion myself, and somewhat familiar with the record on this subject: I would agree with Aeneas that Churchill was most certainly not blind to Stalin's ambitions, as much as he was powerless to do much about them.

I would also argue though that much of the American establishment was not blind about Stalin (particularly the military planners), but that President Roosevelt and some around him, to a good degree, were.

Beaverbrook said...

Canada also DEMANDED that Great Britain repay its war debts. Remember Canada too profited in a big way from WW2, but we also gave Britain an outright gift of a $1 billion grant plus billions more in subsidized or no interest loans at significant expense to the Canadian Treasury.

This on top of the fact that Canada was responsible for 40% of all escorts to Britain, that it trained more RAF pilots than Britain, that it sent close to a million soldiers overseas and that had Hitler not let British soliders return from Dunkirk, there were only two divisions between the English coastline and London, both of them Canadian. And yet Hitchens trumpets how Britain won it all on its own when it can easily be concluded that without Canada, England would certainly have starved.

Shaftesbury said...

Canada FORGAVE all British War Debt on top of the One Billion Dollar Gift ....

http://books.google.ca/books?id=xTKtPPEDTtQC&pg=PA60&lpg=PA60&dq=canada+britain+war+debt&source=web&ots=-x00JlHPZj&sig=j7wGr9Gt894Zd6E5qJa1m_JakwQ&hl=en

Shaftesbury said...

From:

"The British Empire and the Second World War," by Ashley Jackson, 2006. Continuum International Publishing Group, page 60.

ISBN 1852854170

The Loans the Press referred to in 2006 were not War Debts proper; they were Reconstruction Loan Debt.

On top of all the other contributions, Canada GAVE the UK Four Billion Dollars, and in 1946 FORGAVE the entire War Debt owed.

Canada then LOANED One and a Quarter Billion Dollars to help in Reconstruction.

These are important details.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

"I'm sorry, but this is just a post of hysteria. It's an economic zone map, nothing more. A lot of crap gets thrown around about the EU. It's not the best institution by far and I am a firm believing in national sovereignty, but I am so fed up with these kind of ridiculous, spittle-flecked tirades that it sometimes embarasses me to be a reader of this site".

Beaverbrook said...

One of our finer comments indeed, though unjustifiably placed as it related to that particular post.

I accept your history, Shaftesbury. I suppose I was thinking about the reconstruction loans and confused this with Britain's war debts.

Tjalf Boris Prößdorf said...

Sir, being german I might seem biased to you - I might even be biased.

While it may be true that Germany lost the war in the most dishonourable way - that does not mean that Britain won.

Go on celebrating our downfall as a nation if you must.

Who needs enemies with allies like your's and a man of Churchill's moral stature at the helm?

That rhethorical question is the essence of the books and articles you talk about.

Sincerely,
Tjalf Boris Prößdorf