Monday, April 4, 2011

Was the Second World War a "Good War"?



"Did waging it help anyone who needed help?" asked Nicholson Baker when he set out to write Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization, which leads the reader to the same conclusion as Patrick J. Buchanan's Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, albeit by an entirely different road.

A reviewer called Mr. Baker's book "at once very easy to read and very hard to digest." Rather than relying on polemical arguments, the book consists of brief narratives taken from newspapers, diaries, and speeches, which convincingly show that the war could well have been avoided and tens of millions of lives spared. I do not share Mr. Baker's principled pacifism, believing as I do in self-defense and even defensive war as a last resort, but the many pacifists we meet, like the Vera Brittain, are the true heroes of the conflict. As Mr. Baker says, "They failed, but the were right."

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5 Comments:

Blogger d said...

A better question might be whether the First World War was a good war. To be brief, I think the answer is no; and I think it is a better question because if America had stayed out, then WWI would likely have had a far different outcome, and any subsequent conflict would have had a far different scope and aim. Possibly even something approaching a legitimately just war.

12:11 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Indeed. Mr. Baker, to his credit, beings with the Great War.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Yes, that's the correct place to start. Hitler was a madman and he was not going to be stop until he was forcibly stopped. That should have been done in 1935 when the Nazis remilitarized the Saarland -- at the very latest it should have been done in 1938 when the Nazis dismembered Czechoslovakia.

Sometimes there is no substitute for standing up against a regime as vile and evil as Nazi Germany.

2:54 PM  
Blogger xavier said...

D:

I agree. Contrary to what a lot of historians conclude, we actually still live with the legacy of the first world war. case in point: the Arab revolts are happening in those countries that were partitioned by the Sykes Picot agreement. The Balkans are still reeling from the aftermath of WW I when the allies practically rewarded Serbia for starting the war by giving them Slovernia and Croatia. 2 countries that never had any ties whatsoever to Serbia. Thus seeding the conflicts that fester to this day.

xavier

11:39 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Indeed. All those fake countries made.

8:50 AM  

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