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Perpetual War for Unobtainable Peace
Buchanan, Churchill and the “Necessary” Book
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Back in 2008 Patrick J. Buchanan published his volume Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War. Although it was reviewed and discussed at the time, perhaps because it dealt with world history on such a vast, scholarly scale, or because the subject matter seemed to be more the province of academic specialists (which Buchanan isn’t), it did not receive the kind of press and readership that other of his white-hot books garnered.

Given the momentous decision by Congress to engage in open-ended war in Syria and Iraq and the ratcheting up of American opposition to Russia, Buchanan’s earlier volume stands out for the number of cautionary lessons it offers.

What distinguishes his Churchill volume is that Buchanan, instead of specifically and individually examining pressing questions that have confronted us in recent years, explores “why” and “how” we arrived at our present critical situation, and just how the historic Christian West, in particular Christian Europe and the United States, came to face the present political, cultural, and religious crisis that is unparalleled in history.

Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War centers on the pivotal role of Sir Winston Churchill in British (and world) history during much of the twentieth century. Without exaggeration it can be said that his finger prints are all over British foreign policy throughout the previous century, from his time as First Lord of the Admiralty during World War I, during his “exile” from public office during the 1920’s and 1930s, and his periods of leadership during World War II and afterwards. Even before his death he had become an icon for both Americans and Englishmen, a symbol of courage and defiance against overwhelming odds, an inspiration to millions.

Yet, as Buchanan carefully and painstakingly documents, Churchill was, militarily, a disastrous leader; and strategically, his policies are at the very least open to serious debate and disagreement. His planned military adventures, including the infamous Gallipoli campaign during the First World War, the Norwegian invasion of 1940, Dieppe in 1942, and the Italian campaign of 1943, were either abject failures or fell way below their stated goals.

The internationally respected German historian Ernst Nolte has conflated, rightfully I think, World War I and World War II into one thirty-year event that he has called “the European Civil War” (unfortunately, his volume Die Europaische Burgerkrieg has never been translated into English, although a French edition exists). In that sense, World War II was a remarkably bloody and radical continuation of World War I, with some of the alliances rearranged. Buchanan approaches Churchill and British policy in a similar fashion, incorporating the research of scholars such as John Charmley, Maurice Cowling, and Niall Ferguson, with a solid discussion of the causes of the first war, mirroring much of the scholarship that now understands that war in 1914 was not a simple question of the “evil German butchers of Kaiser Bill” attacking poor defenseless Belgium. Churchill and Lord Grey, certainly, were beating the drums for war, but the British foreign policy establishment bears a considerable amount of responsibility for the conflict—a conflagration that Kaiser Wilhelm, when he realized in the last days of that sultry July of 1914 what was happening, tried frantically to avoid.

At the end of that war, the vindictive treaties of Versailles, Trianon, Neuilly, and Saint-Germain set the stage, almost inevitably, for future conflict. The intervention of American President Wilson, with his “Fourteen Points” and language of messianic liberal Protestantism, only made matters worse, as the “great lion” Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and other wily pragmatic nationalists exacted a fearsome and punishing toll on Germany and Austria-Hungary, all the while cynically mouthing Wilson’s elevated language.

Buchanan is very critical of Hitler, but he understands fully well how the German dictator was able to get elected with popular support. Where he is most fascinating is in his careful examination of British (and French) policies aimed at Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, and in particular, Churchill’s role in, firstly, advocating them, and secondly, in executing them. In dealing with Germany, Britain, under the leadership of Stanley Baldwin and later Neville Chamberlain, oscillated between policies of attempting to reach a modus vivendi and of opposition and establishing a cordon sanitaire around the German state. British public opinion and, indeed, many in the Foreign Office, sympathized with the legitimate desires of Germany to right some of the egregious wrongs inflicted on it by Versailles: millions of German citizens had been placed arbitrarily in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, and Italy. The old German Second Empire had been severed by a Polish corridor, the historic German city of Danzig (overwhelmingly German) had been separated from the mother country, and three and a half million Sudeten Germans forced into a discriminatory Czech state. Many British political leaders believed there were legitimate, peaceful ways to deal with these inequities, and that a war over these lands should only be the very last option.

Throughout the 1930s both Britain and France faced a growing desire by Germany to regain those lost territories. Drawing on voluminous scholarship on the topic, Buchanan details how it was largely the indecision and inconsistency of Franco-British policies that enabled Hitler to advance German interests. During the attempted putsch in Austria (1934), during the Rhineland crisis (1936), and at Munich over Sudetenland (1938), it was not the bellicosity of Hitler so much as it was the fumbling of the Franco-British that both surprised—and delighted—the German chancellor.

With the German protectorate placed over the rump Czech state in spring 1939, the British government reacted, making what Buchanan calls the most serious mistake in the annals of British foreign policy: the “blind pledge” to Poland to go to war automatically should that nation ever be attacked. It was a completely irrational war guarantee, given to the wrong nation, over the wrong issue, and at the wrong time. Although Britain may well have had to face German arms in the future, Poland was a thousand miles away, incapable of receiving any British military or material aid in the case of conflict with Germany. Moreover, Poland was no “shining democracy on the banks of the Vistula River,” but rather a military-ruled state that had participated in the partition of Czechoslovakia (along with the Germans) and that had a record of mistreating German citizens in the corridor and in the Posen region. The German demands—for a German rail and road corridor linking Pomerania and East Prussia, and the return of Danzig—were not unreasonable starting points for negotiation, at least on paper. Britain’s pledge not only stiffened Polish resolve not to negotiate at all, it also altered inevitably German foreign policy that had been oriented towards a final conflict with Communist Russia. War became inevitable, but a war that Hitler never wanted: a war with Britain, a nation he genuinely admired.

Succeeding a broken and sick Chamberlain in 1940, Churchill, the longtime anti-Communist, embraced “the old bear” Stalin once the Soviet Union was attacked in 1941. Stalin became not only “Uncle Joe,” the putative “democrat,” to Franklin Roosevelt, but “precious” to Sir Winston. By 1942 he was praising the tyrant, and by 1944, with Franklin Roosevelt in tacit agreement, he was divvying up Europe into Soviet and British “spheres.” By 1946-1947 he would make an about face, but by then, with the nations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, half of Germany, part of Finland, and a portion (temporarily) of Austria under Soviet control, it was too late for regrets. And Poland? It was our Soviet allies who helped Hitler invade and defeat that nation in less than a month in September 1939; they annexed half the country, and when the “war to defend Poland” was over, in 1945, the Soviets kept their half.

Sir Winston was a Victorian par excellence, a man who more than once claimed that he would never countenance the “sun to set over the British Empire.” Yet, as Buchanan documents, it was the old imperialist Sir Winston who did exactly that. And not only did he preside over the decline and end of the British Empire, he was largely instrumental through his anti-Teutonism in altering the balance of power in Europe, as well as globally. For the defeat of Germany, while removing a threat, created conditions for a “new” Europe and prepared the ground for a radically revolutionary world, a world that we continue to see developing around us. The “good war” in the name of human rights to make the world safe for “progress” and liberal democracy, ended by enshrining a brutal Communist world power that would dominate half of the world’s population for another fifty years, and even after its eventual demise, its Marxist ideology would continue to influence political and economic affairs in much of the West. Perhaps even worse than orthodox Communism, the secularist and openly anti-Christian society that has succeeded it and now dominates historic Christian Europe and increasingly America, is much more pervasive and fatal to the traditional beliefs that created our civilization.

After the end of World War II, any real conservative opposition to the new and revolutionary post-war arrangement was greeted with labels like “neo-fascist,” or “racist,” or “anti-semitic.” Rightwing and conservative opponents who have questioned the post-war paradigm, it is often suggested by those on the political and cultural Left (as well as by the Neoconservatives), are throwbacks to Hitler and “neo-Nazis,” and yet, Hitler and the Nazis were never of the traditional Right. It makes little difference: such calumnies usually stanch any profound criticism, allowing the post-war revolutionary paradigm to continue largely unchallenged, either from the historic Left, or by the pusillanimous politically-correct Right.

The template created after World War II established the foundations of a new global—and intolerant—religion of liberal democracy and equality. Anyone who dissents from that talisman is considered outside the bounds of legitimate debate. The collapse of the Soviet state in 1990-1991 only gave impetus to the paradigm, as many of the proponents of the “new world order” now proclaimed that we lived in a “unipolar world.” And whereas in the 1950s and early 1960s some American (and European) conservatives had attempted to retrieve something of the pre-war traditionalism that had historically counter-balanced the egalitarian liberal and Leftward drift in politics and society (e.g., Russell Kirk, Mel Bradford, etc.) and had critiqued the growing managerial statism of both the Left AND the Right (e.g., James Burnham and Sam Francis), the virtual triumph of a variant of the Trotskyite Left—the Neoconservatives—as the new “conservative mainstream” seemed to doom serious discussion.

As events in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe seem to swirl out of control, Pat Buchanan’s Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War has much to say to us. By examining the earlier historical foundations of our post-World War II society and by understanding how the so-called “good wars for democracy and human rights” became platforms by which the cultural, political, and religious Left was able to impose a radically revolutionary paradigm that would influence our thinking and outlook in the decades since, Pat Buchanan has done us all an immeasurable service.

Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War contributes to our understanding of the continuing zeal of our elites to wage perpetual war for an unobtainable peace. One hundred years ago the world plunged unwarily into a cataclysmic war that no one really saw coming and that horribly scarred and radically disfigured the face of humanity. As William Butler Yeats expressed it, “The blood-dimmed tide” was loosed upon the world. The question remains: are we repeating the same errors once again?


Boyd D. Cathey holds a Masters degree in American history from the University of Virginia and a doctorate in European history from the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard M. Weaver Fellow. He has taught in Argentina and the US and published in English, Spanish, and French. He recently retired as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History.

An earlier version of this piece had appeared in the January/February 2009 (volume XXVII, no. 1) of Southern Partisan

• Category: History • Tags: Winston Churchill, World War I, World War II 
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  1. No mention of the plight of Jewry nor Hitler and many of his countrymen’s white-hot hatred for them. That animus and its inevitable tragedy weren’t going to be altered by appeasing even legitimate German complaints. By the time of Hitler’s ascendancy, it was too late to fix.

    Additionally, the British Empire, Inc. didn’t disappear. It may be dear old Blighty Dad finally gave up the CEO spot to Junior Yank, to sit superannuated on the board with the other of the Five Anglo Eyes, but very clearly the English-speaking countries have maintained their Empire.

    • Replies: @Georgina
    , @SolontoCroesus
  2. Sean says:

    Hitler made the fatal error. On 15 March, Germany invaded the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, including Prague. That was a key shift, (because those territories were not in any sense ethnically or historically German unlike previous ones Hitler had acquired) and Chamberlain immediately started making veiled threats of war.

    Similarly there was a huge shift in attitude when the Nazi Soviet pact was announced. “Only after the German soviet nonagression pact of August 21 did Halifax implement the unilateral guarantee to Poland with aa formal mutual assistance Pact” Source: The Anglo American Establishment by Carroll Quigley page 300. As Quigley says, Chamberlain had no problem with Germany fighting the USSR, in fact he and Halifax tried to facilitate it.

    Chamberlain was very much a political moderate. The Conservatives who wanted to confront Germany in the 30’s on were on the far right of the party and were the same ones who wanted to keep India irrespective of the what Indians thought, like George Lloyd, 1st Baron Lloyd

    • Replies: @Carlton Meyer
  3. I agree that Churchill is overrated, but this book seems to draw fanciful connections.
    The British decision to offer guarantees to Poland was fateful, but it didn’t had much to do with Churchill and the same is true about British intervention in WW1.
    Britain’s leftward shift happened against Churchill and ousted him from power at the end of the war and later he had to come to terms with the facts that the british people wanted a welfare state and that without India the Empire made no sense.

  4. I read the book by Buchanan in question (as well as several other books by him.)
    Serious book.
    Everybody blames (justly) communist regime in USSR for “Holodomor” — deadly hunger in all territories of USSR, including Ukraine, whose language gave the above name of extremely tragic events.
    Buchanan puts forward the question: who is responsible for “Holodomor” in Germany after WW-1?
    To ask this question means to answer it, and Buchanan does answer it.

    • Replies: @Sean
  5. “….war in 1914 was not a simple question of the “evil German butchers of Kaiser Bill” attacking poor defenseless Belgium. Churchill and Lord Grey, certainly, were beating the drums for war, but the British foreign policy establishment bears a considerable amount of responsibility for the conflict—a conflagration that Kaiser Wilhelm, when he realized in the last days of that sultry July of 1914 what was happening, tried frantically to avoid.”
    I have already posted on this subject twice on this website: once commenting on an ill-informed piece by Margolis and secondly on what I can only regard as a deliberately misleading piece by Paul Gottfried.
    Germany DID invade defenceless Belgium. They cynically violated Belgian neutrality, knowing perfectly well that this would provoke the UK into a response, but the German High Command were gambling that they would knock out the French and Belgian Armies before the British Army could be properly mobilised. It was a gamble which nearly came off. The author might have heard of the Schlieffen Plan?
    In the course of their invasion, the Germans massacred 15,000 Belgian civilians, burned down some of the most lovely medeieval towns in Europe, drove 1.5 million Belgians into exile, raped God knows how many Belgian women, and dragged several hundred thousand of em off to Germany as slave labourers.
    No, Germany was the main culprit. The War Guilt Clause was entirely justified.

    • Replies: @Neutral
    , @pyrrhus
    , @Anonymous
  6. Neutral says:
    @john cronin

    john cronin

    You mistake cheap war time propaganda with debates about historical events. No matter what real atrocities were committed in Belgium, one can very easily show that the both the atrocities in Belgium Congo and the total murder count of the British empire (not to mention the sheer number of defenseless lands it conquered) far outmatched that of the Germans. If you want to make this into a brain dead good vs evil contest, you will lose.

  7. Georgina says:
    @Fran Macadam

    “dear old Blighty Dad” had to give up the CEO spot because he bankrupted himself from fighting two miserable wars that he helped to start. That is one of the main points Buchanan makes in this book. Britain would never have been reduced to the 2nd rate country it is today had it taken a more responsible approach to its foreign policy during the first half of the 20th century. Buchanan’s concern is that the US is following the same path as Britain in relation to its wars in Iraq.

  8. Changing the subject – or trivial abuse – does not constitute a counter argument.

    The Belgian atrocities in the Congo had nothing to do with British national security. Britain had guaranteed Belgian neutrality – along with France, Holland and Prussia – for a very good reason.

    The whole reason the UK DID guarantee Belgian neutrality was because it could not countenance an unfriendly continental power having control of the whole North Sea/ Channel area: as happened in 1940: or under Napoleon in 1810, or under King Phillip of Spain at the time of the Armada. Because such dominance could be used as a springboard for an invasion of Britain, or at the very least, choke off British trade with the continent.

    The German war aims in 1914 were not that different from Hitler’s: they did not yet have the fully articulated ideological view of the Slavs as untermenschen, but they were getting there.

    Germany wanted to knock out France as a great power for all time, annex it’s industrial capacity in the Northern Departements, then look to the East for lebensraum. The level of sympathy for the Germans losing 7% of their population in 1918 – most of whom as Poles, French or Danes, were desperate to leave the Reich – must be somewhat tempered by the treaty of Brest Litovsk, by which Germany forced Russia to annex the whole of the Ukraine and Belorussia: had the Germans won, this would have become permanent.

  9. “a conflagration that Kaiser Wilhelm, when he realized in the last days of that sultry July of 1914 what was happening, tried frantically to avoid.”

    I would be interested in any evidence for this proposition by Mr Cathey.

    “millions of German citizens had been placed arbitrarily in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, and Italy.”

    Er, no German citizens were transferred to Italy: a couple of hundred thousand Austrian subjects in the South Tyrol area of the Habsburg Empire were given over to Italy.

    No German citizens were handed over to Czechoslovakia either. The Sudeten Germans were all Hapsburg subjects as well, who had never been German citizens.

    A few thousand Germans in the Eupen-Malmedy area were handed over to Belgium: they seem to have suffered no great hardship. At least the Belgians didn’t rape or murder any of em.

    • Replies: @Jus' Sayin'...
    , @Sean
  10. I do not know whether Buchanan discusses this or not but it’s certainly true that Churchill is the primary and precipitating cause for the mess in the middle east that we face today. I used to think that this was a grotesque blunder on Churchill’s part, on the disastrous scale of so many other blundering disasters that he fomented, but as I grow older I realize that it was a deliberately intended action on his part with deliberately intended immediate consequences and no thought at all given to long term strategic considerations.

    The incident to which I am referring is Churchill’s decision to deny the Turk’s two battle cruisers which they had already paid for, which had been constructed, and which were due for delivery. Churchill furthermore refused to even consider returning to the Turks what they had already paid for these ships. The ostensible reason for this was a concern that Turkey was poised to ally with Germany and Austria-Hungary. This was a patent absurdity since the Turks loathed the Austro-Hungarians and had initiated a large number of costly measures to ensure they would remain neutral even at the expense of annoying German interests. A common assumption is that in this case as in so many others Churchill had just made a stupid blunder.

    A more sinisteer but far more likely explanation is that this was a deliberate provocation to force the Turks into allying with Germany and declaring war on the Triple Entente. The motives are fairly obvious once stated. The Admiralty had switched its fleet from coal to oil and were in desperate need of raw petroleum sources, of which, it was already becoming clear, various regions in the Ottoman Empire had a superabundance. The Ottomans also had significant control over petroleum transport lines to other petroleum sources, e.g., Persia and the Caucasian provinces of Russia. What better way for Britain to get its hands on this plunder than to declare war on the “sick old man of Europe”, and dismember him after the inevitable victory. This is precisely what the British and French did in an astonishingly thoughtless and greedy way, creating a whole set of circumstances via the secret Sykes-Picot Treaty (Balfor’s little sidebar was the least of the mischief!)that were bound to cause the very problems that persist and are growing to frightening proportions over a century later. Indded this blind greed on Churchill’s part may eventually help precipitate the world’s first real nuclear war.

  11. Sean says:
    @Immigrant from former USSR

    Churchill was never in a position to do anything to prevent the wars – either of them – he had a lot of illusions about Britain’s place in the future and the value of the Empire but those illusions were shared by everyone in the country. It wasn’t until Suez that the British establishment accepted Britain was no longer a super power. No one understood what would happen with mass immigration, no one at all.I don’t understand how anyone can believe there was the slightest chance of Britain or the US) thinking it unnecessary to try and stop Germany from turning into a superpower. The Anglo-American power elites in the US and UK were offshore balancers who understood the inexorable logic of realism: Germany could not be allowed to become a superpower and turn the Volga in to their Mississippi. It was a zero sum game because it was all about relative power.

    Germany had no more choice that anyone else. ‘His pessimism would only deepen over time: overlooking his estate before the war, he told his son that there was little reason to plant new trees, since “in a few years the Russians would be here anyway.”‘ here

    In 1905 the military balance was upset because Russia was so weak as a result of war with Japan and subsequent revolution. This was Germany’s golden opportunity, and they missed it. In 1908 the chief of the Staff College Sir Henry Wilson “had his senior class prepare a scheme for the deployment of an Expeditionary Force to France, assuming Germany to have invaded Belgium”. Agreements with France to fight together against Germany were in place within a few years.

    Germany’s leadership started WW1 quite deliberately, their reasoning was that it was now or never to check the growth of the Russian colossus, they thought that this had to be done before 1917 when the (French financed) Russian military railway building program would be completed and remove any possibility of successfully fighting a war against Russia and her allies. Bethmann Hollweg reluctantly decided war was necessary but to be successful the war had to come about in such a way that that the German people would see it as self defence and unite behind its government; hence he put up a facade to give the impression that Germany had not intentionally started the war. In 1914 the German leadership actions were designed to draw Russia into war but avoid the responsibility for starting it. The German leadership understood that Britain, having bound itself to France and Russia would NOT stay out but he preferred a continental or world war to the alternative.

    Appearances to the contrary were the result of the German leadership deliberately misleading their own people, their Austrian allies, and the Russians. The people had shifted ‘both politically and culturally, from nationalism to internationalism. Left-wing parties were gaining ground, and their worldview was essentially internationalist’. However the German leadership were careful to make it look like they were not trying to start a war because were worried about the reaction of the Social Democratic party and the workers, so they tried to make it look like they were acting in self defence. They had to avoid letting the Austrians (who were needed for the German military plan to work ) know what they were up to, delaying the British entry (seen as inevitable) was a secondary motive.

    Germany adroitly used Austria to draw Russia into a war. (See The Origins of Major War ).

    Against the advice of the army commander Molke, who considered delay unacceptable, Tirpitz had war put off twice ( in 1905 and 1911). At the German Imperial War Council of 8 December 1912 he said that the navy would not be ready until the Kiel canal and the Heligoland U-Boat harbour were completed in 1914. The Germans assumed that Britain would be fighting on the side of France and Russia, and as the Kaiser thought the navy was essential, Tirpitz got his way again. ( Tirpitz getting the war delayed).

    There is no precedent for a great power letting a rival gain power and hence establish the basis to be a mortal threat to it’s existence. Hitler was following the logical course for a powerful state that wanted to be secure from any future threat in trying to become a superpower. For any British leadership in 39 or 40 exactly the same considerations meant Buchanan’s deal with Germany was a non starter. No British leader could have made the deal Buchanan suggests, the country’s establishment wouldn’t have allowed it. Chamberlain’s and others’ turn against Hitler was caused by Hitler grabbing non-German territory. The moderate progressive establishment figures like (admirer of Gandhi ) Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian were not too worried because with Austria Hitler seemed to be gathering in Germans into a German state. Hence Lothian’s remark that Hitler was Just marching into his own back yard.

    Munich:- On 15 Sept Chamberlain agreed to Germany annexing those provinces that voted for it in a plebiscite in the Sudetenland, which given that in was basically German meant he accepted Germany was going to get it in a few months time. Then on 22 Sept Hitler demanded immediate German occupation of the Sudetenland without a plebiscite. Chamberlain had already conceded that Germany was going to get the Sudetenland in half a year. So at Munich Chamberlain’s big concession was on on the TIMING. The timing of when Germany got Sudetenland. Which Chamberlain had had already, in effect agreed to when he agreed to the plebiscite. I think that shows that Chamberlain was angry Germany was issuing dictats, but what they were demanding was considered German, and then getting it not unacceptable, if done through negotiation. Germany occupied the Sudetenland in October.

    The key turning point was Hitler’s March 1939 decision to invade and annex Bohemia and Moravia. Chamberlain immediately began threatening war and introduced conscription. Then CHAMBERLAIN made the limited guarantee to Poland (leaving open the possibility for Hitler to attack the Soviet Union though Poland without conquering it. Chamberlain made the guarantee a full one (independance and territory) after Hitler had signed a pact with Stalin, thereby making it Germany was going to attack in the West.

    Chamberlain was immensely popular until he resigned due to ill health. When Chamberlain was replaced by Churchill, conservative MPs had to be asked to start cheering Churchill. The main decisions were taken by Hitler, he thought Germany was capable of winning WW2 and becoming a superpower, and as it turned out he was quite correct, There is no precedent for a great power letting a rival gain power and hence establish the basis to be a mortal threat to it’s existence.

    Hitler was following the logical course for a powerful state that wanted to be secure from any future threat: if it had a real chance to become a superpower, then the risk was worth it. For any British leadership in 39 or 40 Buchanan’s deal to give Germany a free run at becoming a superpower was a non starter.

    • Replies: @dfordoom
  12. @john cronin

    It’s clear that all the great European powers blundered into the war. The two most immediately guilty parties were Serbia which had committed an act of war against Austria-Hungary and the dual monarchy which refused to understand that its intransigence would lead to war with Russia, and thus France, which had been itching for war, since 1870, against the Central Powers. Once the troops were mobilized, Germany faced certain defeat unless it set into motion the Schlieffen Plan. A reasonable assumption on Germany’s part was that the British would be rational enough to overlook Germany ignoring “a scrap of paper” written a century earlier. Indeed there was considerable British sentiment for doing this even after the cabinet became aware of the secret deals Grey had cut with France in the absence of any consultation or authorization .

    The idea that Germany planned this war for imperialist reasons that were only articulated well into the conflict is absurd and not supported by the latest research. After the war had caused a few million casualties all the great powers developed plans for carving things up afterwards that they all hoped would justify the stupid carnage. Britain and France were as guilty of this mid-war plotting as Germany and in the event proved eager to implement the nastiness.

    The standard canard that Germany was a tyranical militarist entity as opposed to the civilized and democratic members of the Triple Entente also fails to stand scrutiny. At the start of WW I, Germany had universal male sufferage, a robust social welfare system, and a real constitution. The UK had neither of the first two nor, in my opinion the third, since pariamentary supremacy is the antithesis of the idea that governments need to be restrained. It can also be argued that Germany was far less militaristic than the UK, where a threatened army mutiny had just caused the suspension of a parliamentary act granting home rule to Ireland. As for Russian autocracy, the less said the better. And France was a country that had just witnessed the political assassination of the best hope for peace by a Charlotte Corday wannabe.

    • Replies: @Luke Lea
  13. Sean says:
    @john cronin

    Kaiser Wilhelm was excluded from the real decision making by 1914, he was sent off on a cruise in his yacht and wasn’t informed of what was happening.

  14. pyrrhus says:
    @john cronin

    You forget that Belgium had no reason to resist German passage, which action was utterly foolish and futile, and only did so because of promises and enticements from Britain. You also forget that Russia, Britain’s ally, started the war by mobilizing to attack Austria-Hungary in defense of highly culpable Serbia, which was indeed part of the assassination plot.

  15. Matra says:

    The idea that Germany planned this war for imperialist reasons that were only articulated well into the conflict is absurd

    It’s not that they planned it but their quest to be a Great Power was the major cause of WW1. They believed their future lay in the east, both Eastern Europe and the Near East and that meant conflict with Russia for which Germany started preparing for before the turn of the century. That brought the Russians and French together. Wilhelm II then thought Britain would be a natural friend given its own Near East competition with Russia but when the Brits showed no interest the Germans started building a naval fleet that set off alarm bells in London. The Germans miscalculated thinking that their rearmament would force Britain into an alliance with them but as we now know it had the opposite effect. Hitler similarly misread the British. A lot of other things happened but it was the re-orientation in German foreign policy starting in 1890 that ultimately led to the conflict.

    You forget that Belgium had no reason to resist German passage

    And there we have it! Who do these little countries think they are?

  16. @ john cronin
    Britain has invaded almost every single country in the world in the past 3-4 centuries. The only places that have not been invaded by Britain are essentially unreachable landlocked entities, and negligible mini-states. We are talking Mongolia and Andorra here.
    On the other hand, Brain has not been invaded since 1066.
    In 1914, Britain had only recently finished the savage Boer War.
    When it comes to violating neutrality, Britain is the undisputed world champion. It is impossible to take seriously the British moral indignation over Belgium.

    Here is just one example, out of the countless available:
    Just to drive the point in: In 1940, the British, by pretext of military necessity, invaded neutral Iceland. How does that differ from what the Germans did in 1914?

    Thus the old British propaganda line regarding the Belgian neutrality is preposterous in the extreme. Belgian neutrality had nothing to do with anything except issues of propaganda. The reality is that the British felt threatened by German industrial expansion, and engineered an anti-German alliance, which proceeded to crush Germany once the opportunity arrived. The British have followed the strategy of allying with the second-strongest continental power against the first-strongest continental power for many centuries. It has been an immensely successful strategy, especially in the hands of the masterful British diplomats, spies, and manipulators.
    As a disclaimer, regarding my biases, I wouldn’t say that I am either pro-German or anti-British. I feel that both Britain and Germany have given immense amounts of good, and significant amounts of evil, to the world. But let us at least try to keep reality in sight.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  17. Priss Factor [AKA "Andrea Ostrov Letania"] says:

    “Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War” was an unnecessary book since Buchanan had made his points already in REPUBLIC, NOT AN EMPIRE. In the earlier book, Buchanan made some good sense because he limited his scope to a realpolitik consideration of what UK and France should and shouldn’t have done to prevent a war with Germany, a conflict neither was ready for at the time.
    The book wasn’t about moral ‘right and wrong’ but about cold hard political considerations of foreign policy. Even George Kennan praised it.

    But if Kennan had lived to read UNNECESSARY WAR, I think he would have felt sick and puked.
    If we clear away all the smoke-and-mirrors, it is essentially an apologia for Hitler’s foreign policy, and as such, a foul and disgusting book that reveals the worst side of Buchanan. No, Buchanan is not consciously pro-Hitler, but his Angl0-German-centrism really shows, and the hidden or subconscious theme of the book is, “Look, we Northern European types should have stuck together against all them Jews and ‘Asiatic’ Russian hordes, even if it meant Germans invading Russia and killing millions of innocent people.” Of course, Buchanan and his apologists will deny this, but I know shit when I smell it. In RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING, Buchanan speaks of how he grew up thinking in terms of ‘my country, right or wrong’, and its subconscious extension was ‘my racial stock right or wrong.’ It’s tribal-barbarian-thug mentality.

    Now, I’m all for racial identity and solidarity, but there’s a limit to everything, and Hitler was a pathological psychopath who didn’t care about killing and/or enslaving millions to fulfill his dream of ‘Aryan’ supremacy. The Anglos should be praised for not going along with that nuttiness. It’s like family members should stick with one another, but if a family turns out to be John Wayne Gacy or Unabomber, call the cops! And Hitler wasn’t just a bad egg or black sheep or a rotten egg and rabid dog.

    True, there were positive things about Hitler and National Socialism. As Joachim Fest wrote, had Hitler died in 1939 before he invaded Poland, he would have gone down history as among Germany’s greatest leaders. But the evil side of Hitler was about as evil and nutty as it could be. Like Mao, he was a megalomaniac with no appreciation of mutuality and reciprocity.
    Consider how Khruschchev went out of his way to right wrongs with China because Stalin had pushed Mao around. Khrushchev felt a great leader of a great nation should be paid proper respect, so following Stalin’s death and his own ascendancy to power, one of the first things he did was begin a new chapter with Mao, and he thought Mao would appreciate the gesture. But Mao the megalomaniac prick merely saw Khrushchev’s goodwill as a sign of weakness, softness, and spinelessness. Mao began to throw his weight around, as if HE should be the new leader of global communism. In time, Khrushchev had just about enough of prick Mao, and the Sino-Soviet rift happened. Mao’s megalomania also led to the disasters of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Though Mao’s China was not conquered and defeated as Nazi Germany was, Mao brought ruination on China. It goes to show that personality really matters in politics and history, especially when ‘great men’ are involved.

    Hitler had a similar kind of personality. Though both Mao and Hitler could work patiently and diligently to gain power, once they had the power, they just wanted to throw their weight around and had no respect for anything but kickass power.
    When Khrushchev tried to do right by Mao, he was met with only Mao’s arrogance, contempt, condescension, and ever more demands. Similarly, when Chamberlain and others tried to be reasonable with Hitler and right the wrongs that had been perpetrated against Germany in the aftermath of WWI, Hitler merely regarded the goodwill on the part of the democracies as weakness, wimpery, cowardice, ball-less-ness, and bourgeois pusillanimity. Once he got a taste of his own power and its effect on other nations, he kept pushing the envelope. It’s impossible to be reasonable on reasonable grounds with unreasonable people. It’s like no matter how much Putin reads Steve Sailer’s advice in Takimag and tries to reduce tensions with the West by being pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli in Russia, it won’t do any good because the West is run by Jewish supremacists who want total domination over Russia like they have over the US. Unless Putin and his ilk are all reduced to the likes of Joe Bidens, Ted Cruzes, John McCains, and Obamas who suckle the toes of Jewish supremacists, Western Jews will always find some new BS to start new conflicts against Russia. The great irony is that Jewish supremacists who are now acting like Hitler against Russia is accusing Putin of being Hitler-like. Like I said, it’s impossible to be reasonable even on reasonable grounds–as there are many legitimate grievances against Russia and problems in Russia that need to be addressed–with an unreasonable people. Like Jewish supremacists who lord over the West today, Hitler was unreasonable even when others were trying to go out of their ways to be reasonable with him. He was a diva, and divas think they are the stars around which the entire world should revolve around. Hitler was the Whitney Huston of his age.

    Of course, Buchanan is right to point out that Germany had legit grievances regarding Germans in non-German nations and new borders following WWI, but Germany was not the ONLY nation that had such grievances.
    Also, by breaking his promise and invading Bohemia, Hitler had demonstrated that he’s not worthy of trust. So, naturally the Poles didn’t want to make any deals with Hitler. How could they trust him? Though Poles were no saints, they were no worse than any other people in that part of the world. And if Poles mistreated German minorities in their country, they were hardly the only people who pushed minorities around. I mean how well were minorities doing inside Germany? How were Germans treating the Czechs once they took over that country? If Germany had a moral right to attack Poland because German minorities were mistreated there, then Africa and Japan had a moral right to attack the US in the early part of the 2oth century over white discrimination against blacks and Japanese-Americans. And Mexicans had a right to attack the US for polices in the SW territories that favored whites over Mexicans who’d lived there for many centuries.
    Besides, the reason why there was a sizable German population in Polish territory was because parts of Poland had been under German imperialist occupation/colonization(along with Russian imperialism)for over a century prior to the end of WWI.

    Though Poles were wrong on Danzig, they were right to not want to form an alliance with Germany against Russia or vice versa. Polish history had been of being caught in the middle between major powers, and Poland wanted neutrality at any cost. Also, the whole stuff about the ‘corridor’ is so much nonsense. Why did Germans need a rail-line between German proper and East Prussia? Besides, what if the rail-lines were used for military purposes by Germany?
    Why couldn’t Germany communicate and transport things back and forth between Germany and East Prussia through ship and air? US proper and Hawaii aren’t connected by roads and railways, but there’s plenty of back-and-forth between the two territories. And they are much further apart. In contrast, Germany and East Prussia were close by sea and air. US and Japan are not connected by roads or railways, but they sure did a lot of business through air and sea routes.
    So, all this crap about railway line between Germany and East Prussia was just so much baloney on the part of Hitler. He wasn’t concerned about business and trade. He was looking for military advantages, and the Poles knew it. But most of all, Polish leaders, who were patriotic and anti-communist, saw Hitler for what he was: a psychopath, a thug, a pathological liar, a demagogue, and etc. While Polish rulers were not nice guys or liberal democrats, they had a sense of limits and wanted Poland to mind its affairs and they wanted other nations to mind their own affairs. Poles had no ambitions outside Poland. If Hitler had been more like Pilsudski, things would have turned out much better for everyone.

    Furthermore, most Germans–and even more German elites during the Nazi era–wanted a sense of national limits. Sure, they cheered when Hitler rebuilt Germany and regained lost territories, but they didn’t want to keep pushing into matters beyond German national concerns. It was Hitler who had insatiable thirst for bigger ambitions. He was like Napoleon and Alexander the Great. He didn’t know when to stop. At least Alexander and Napoleon respected the humanity of those they conquered. Hitler’s view of Slavs was even more even hateful and demented than Zionist hatred of Palestinians. When Napoleon invaded Russia, at the very least he saw himself as spreading freedom, progress, and croissants. When Hitler finally decided to invade Russia, he had plans to wipe out tens of millions and turn the rest into slaves. The way white southerners perceived blacks was far more humane than how Hitler saw white Russians.
    Today, Buchanan is full of praise about how white Russia is for tradition and the motherland, but during WWII, his ilk cheered on the Germans not only as the lesser-of-two-evils but a kind of heroic crusade against Jewish communism and the ‘Asiatic’ Russian horde whose lands should be taken by Germans in Manifest Destiny style.

    Buchanan’s anti-Russian bias had two dimensions. Having grown up as a staunch Catholic, he was taught to see the world in terms of the Christian West vs Godless communist east. As Franco had been preferable to the Spanish Left during the Spanish Civil War, even Hitler was seen as preferable to communism.
    The other factor was racial. An admirer of Charles Lindbergh and Anglo-Northern-European-centrism, people like the Buchanan clan tended to see even white folks in terms of good-and-clean Northern Europeans and contaminated-and-barbaric mongrel Eastern Europeans.
    So, Buchanan’s staunch Catholicism and Lindberghism made him root for the Nazis. (Though a young boy when the war was waging, he surely heard a lot of stuff about clean white race and good Catholics in his house and in his racial/religious community). Before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war on Germany, the hearts of people like Buchanan were with Germany and the far right in Europe.

    America First was less a peace movement than a Northern-European-centric movement. It didn’t want US to get involved in Europe because it rooted for Germans as the rightful winners. They weren’t so much calling for neutrality as they were arguing for greater cooperation between US/UK with Germany. And when Germany invaded Russia, they were secretly rooting for Germany to win since the clean pure Northern Europeans should amass great swaths of territories from the impure ‘Asiatic’ Russkies who were commies to boot.

    If indeed, the USSR had attacked Germany first and threatened to overrun all of Europe and maybe UK as well, American Firsters would have been the first ones to call for America’s involvement to save white Christian Europe from the Russia-commie ‘Asiatic’ horde.

    But as Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war on America, even staunch American Conservatives had no choice but to support the war against Germany. After all, even though Germans were fighting the ‘Asiatic’ Russian hordes, the real Asiatics–the Japs–had attacked white America, and that was abominable and intolerable. And since Germany and Japan were allies, all American conservatives as good Americans got behind FDR.

    To be sure, liberals rejoiced when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor since they could now exploit ‘white racism’ against ‘white racism’.
    Prior to Japan’s attack, it was America’s ‘white racism’ that had been the main support behind ‘isolationism’. America First was less about peace-for-peace’s-sake than peace-among-northern-european-white-folks at any price. It’s understandable why people like Buchanan and the Neo-Confederate Boyd Cathey are angrier with Churchill than with Hitler. It’s because Hitler, for all his craziness, admired UK and didn’t want war with Northern European folks. He was for unity and peace among all Northern Europeans. He would have loved peace or a treaty with the UK. He invaded Norway only because UK was on the verge of invading it first. So, as crazy as he was, Hitler was for ‘my race right or wrong’. He even allowed Anglos to retreat from Dunkirk. In contrast, Churchill chose principle—or servility to his Jewish handlers depending on how one looks at it—over racial solidarity, and this makes him a bad bad guy in the eyes of Buchanan and Cathey.
    As Hitler had some degree of respect for Latins as well, he didn’t treat the French too shabbily and went out of his way to prop up Mussolini to the very end. So, Hitler could be very loyal to ‘his own kind of people’. But two peoples Hitler really felt an animus against were Jews and Slavs. Jews he hated, Slavs he held in contempt.

    Anyway, it was an implicit sense of ‘white racist unity’ that made many Americans unwilling to get involved in the European war. They figured, ‘why should white Americans fight and kill white Germans when Germans are fighting a bunch of lowlife commie Russians and winning?’ Since US was liberal democracy, groups like America First couldn’t exactly put their sentiments in such terms, so they used the rhetoric of peace and whatever, but they were mainly motivated by ‘racism’ than idealism.

    So, what a boon it was to FDR when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. It was them yellow lemon-colored characters with bucktooth attacking and killing white folks, and that made all white Americans angry as hell. And when Germany came out on the side of the yellow bastards who killed white Americans, even ‘isolationists’ had enough and wanted to crush Japan and Germany without mercy. So, ‘white American racism’ against Asian Japanese undermined ‘white American racism’ against the Russian ‘Asiatic’ horde. Funny how that works. Many American conservatives had privately rooted for white Germans against ‘Asiatic’ Russians, but they found themselves rooting for ‘Asiatic’ Russians against white Germans allied with Asiatic Japanese who attacked and killed white American folks.

    Anyway, all of this could have been avoided IF Hitler had more sense. There was certainly nothing inevitable about WWII. According to Buchanan’s book, Hitler, lousy as he was, was just trying to resolve legitimate grievances but the Brits and Poles foolishly provoked him into waging a bigger war. But Buchanan argues with the worst kind of bad faith.
    Even when he sees the weakness of his own arguments, he somehow finds some not-so-clever way to shift the blame on everyone but Hitler.
    So, Hitler was right to take back the Rhineland, absorb Austria, and take German-heavy Sudetenland. But if those triumphs emboldened Hitler to act rashly later, UK and France must be blamed for giving Hitler what he wanted and encouraging his aggression. So, in relation to Hitler, whatever UK or France may have done is a case of damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t in Buchanan’s eyes. Buchanan argues that UK and France should have done more for Germany since, even after Germany swallowed Bohemia, Germany had unresolved problems with Poland. But then, he also argues that if Hitler got more reckless in his foreign policy, it’s because UK and France had caved into his demands too often.

    Buchanan’s logic in THE UNNECESSARY WAR is as convoluted as Oliver Stone’s in THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF AMERICAN HISTORY OR SOME SUCH. If Buchanan twists logic in all sorts of nutty ways to exonerate Hitler, Stone does the same for Stalin and other far leftists of the period. This should hardly be surprising since despite their ideological differences, both have similar kinds of extreme, pig-headed, and big-man-bully-gangster personalities.

    It’s one thing to empathize with Hitler or Stalin in order to get to know them better, but Buchanan comes close to being an apologist for Hitler, just like Stone is for Stalin. Even when they admit Hitler or Stalin did terrible things, it’s framed in a context as to suggest ‘but they had no other choice and forced into those decisions’ or ‘others were doing equally bad things, so it wasn’t so bad’.

    If Hitler had stopped at Sudenteland and then called on UK and France to work with Germany to do something about mostly German Danzig, something constructive might have been possible. Or, instead of taking Bohemia after Sudetendland, Hitler should have made a move into Danzig, and then made and kept his promise with UK and France that he would advance no further. WWII would likely have been avoided. But the lunatic decided to divvy up Poland with Stalin.

    It was then that UK and France made the huge mistake of declaring war on Germany. But even this wasn’t the beginning of WWII. For one thing, Germany quickly defeated France, and France came to be ruled by a collaborationist government. And let’s face it, many Frenchmen were happy that Germans crushed the shitty French left. At this time, Germany was the premier power in Europe. It had allies in Italy and Spain. All the Eastern European nations were ruled by right-wing governments allied or sympathetic to Germany. Scandinavia nations were neutral and doing business with Germany. Also, as USSR and Germany had made a pact, there was no real threat from the East either. Stalin was supplying Germany with raw materials in exchange for machinery, and Stalin had no love for the UK. So, if Hitler had just kept applying pressure on UK, the Brits would have had to come to peace table sooner or later. And then, there would have been peace in Europe. Sure, it would have been horrible for Poles and Jews–though the holocaust wouldn’t have happened. But then, Hitler decided to invade Russia,and that’s when WWII really began. If Germany had remained on good terms with the USSR, it’s likely that Japan wouldn’t have attacked Pearl Harbor either. Germany’s bold strike was an inspiration to Japan, especially as it seemed until 1942 that Germany would swiftly win the war and have dominance over all of Eurasia and serve as the wind behind Japan’s back.

    So, instead of asking why Churchill stabbed fellow Northern Europe white man Hitler in the back, the Right needs to ask why Hitler stabbed fellow white folks of Russia in the back. The horror of WWII was the result of Hitler’s intra-‘racist’ hatred against other whites such as Poles and especially the Russians. It was this Northern European bigotry against other Europeans that led to this calamity and the subsequent lack of trust and faith among white folks.
    WWI was a political conflict, war amongst nations, but it wasn’t about the supremacist right of one race to dominate other races. But WWII in the East came to be just that, with Germans thinking that they had some historical right to reduce Slavs into slaves or kill them off in the tens of millions.
    Churchill didn’t fill Hitler’s mind with those sick ideas. They were Hitler’s own, and they impelled his inhumane war on the East.

    There are some who’ve sort-of-justified German invasion of Russia as a war on communism, but this is bogus because the Germans had no intention of liberating Russians from communism. If anything, their designs on the Slavic population was even more inhumane than communism because, as murderous and ruthless as communism was, its goal was to elevate all Russians into New Man status, whereas Nazism’s only agenda for the Slavic populations was racial extermination or permanent helot-dom.

    True, Churchill was big fat disgusting hypocritical pig who likely did the bidding of his Jewish handlers—and heaven knows a lot of Jews suck and are as pathological as Hitler—, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Hitler was the main driving force behind the events that led to WWII and the calamity of the white race.

  18. “Hitler was the Whitney Huston of his age.”

    Are you sure you don’t mean John Huston?

  19. Alek says:

    There is abundance evidence that, during WW2, Winston Churchill insisted that grain from India be shipped to the UK, despite many entreaties from the Viceroy of India that the grain be distributed in Bengal, as otherwise many millions would starve to death.

    As a result of Churchill’s combination of stupidity and bigotry, millions did starve to death in Bengal. Although Churchill did not cause as many deaths as Hitler, it is not clear to me why his actions are also not considered crimes against humanity.

  20. @Sean

    Where did you get this bizarre idea?

    “That was a key shift, (because those territories were not in any sense ethnically or historically German unlike previous ones Hitler had acquired.”

    Bohemia and Moravia were mostly German!

    Let me add that England’s guarantee to Poland only encouraged defiant showmanship by their leader and a refusal to engage in talks. This is extremely similar to the strong support the USA gives the Philippines in its petty disputes with China. This has encouraged the very weak Philippines to taunt China, and the USA could get dragged into a war that it can’t win.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @Anonymous
  21. Luke Lea says:
    @Jus' Sayin'...

    “At the start of WW I, Germany had universal male sufferage, a robust social welfare system, and a real constitution” to say nothing of an unelected hereditary monarch, an immature braggart with an inferiority complex as it happened, and with the power to declare war. His cousin in Russia was another fool. Democracies they were not. I find it interesting that German soldiers were issued copies of Nietzsche’s writings. That says a lot.

    As for Hitler, his intentions were spelled out in Mein Kampf.

    • Replies: @fnn
  22. Rex May says: • Website

    And maybe a bit of Sam Houston.

  23. fnn says:
    @Luke Lea

    I find it interesting that German soldiers were issued copies of Nietzsche’s writings. That says a lot.

    Maybe it meant that the German ruling class didn’t have the contempt bordering on hatred for the common people it led that the British elites are famous for.

  24. @jimbojones

    “Thus the old British propaganda line regarding the Belgian neutrality is preposterous in the extreme. Belgian neutrality had nothing to do with anything except issues of propaganda.”

    You might care to consult a map of the English Channel. To repeat myself: Germany invaded Belgium. They massacred 15,000 people in the process and displaced 1.5 million. Belgium was a neutral country. Britain was one of the guarantors of said neutrality. Britain did not guarantee Belgian neutrality out of love for the Belgians, but because Belgian neutrality was necessary for British security.

    From the day Germany invaded Belgium, the UK had the choice of either entering the war, or seeing its diplomatic credibility in Europe destroyed for all time. Had the UK not entered the war, it would have been faced with the prospect of an aggressive expansionist power -and one which had been busy building a navy to rival its own – having control of the entire Channel coast.

    Bismarck was a wiser man than the Kaiser: He managed to win the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 without violating Belgian neutrality, thus avoiding provoking Britain, then pulled out of France fairly quickly to avoid upsetting the wider European balance of power.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  25. Sean says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    Prague is a German city is it ?
    Read Carrol Quigley. Chamberlain had no problem with Hitler getting historically German territory from Poland, because then Hitler would be in a position to fight Russia. Chamberlain’s initial guarantee only covered the independence of Poland and not its territory. He gave the full, the real, guarantee only after the Soviet-Nazi pact was anounced. That pact made it clear that Hitler was NOT about to go East. Stalin made the pact to send hitler west; Stalin hoped to reap the benefits of the war between the capitalist powers, which marxist theory predicted. So what you had was Chamberlian trying to get Hitler to go east and try to conquer Russia and its vassal states (as he said he was going to do in Mien Kampf) while Stalin was trying to get Hitler to go west.

    Hitler played it beautifully, he secured the east then turned the war in the west into a giant deception operation for a surprise attack on the Soviet Union. But hee made a mistake, a fatal one. The Allies did not win the war; Hitler lost it’.

    Anyway, Churchill was a nuisance to Chamberlain, but not a prime mover in events. Chamberlain was popular and resinged because he was dying of cancer. Churchill got to be PM , but he was was distrusted by the Tory right, and even after Churchill became PM, most of the the conservative MPs were not cheering his speeches in parlament, which got reported in US newspapers and caused instructions to be issued that the PM was to be cheered.

  26. Matra says:

    Maybe it meant that the German ruling class didn’t have the contempt bordering on hatred for the common people

    And yet it was those common people who did most of the suffering due to the war started by Germany’s ambitious ruling class.

    Thus the old British propaganda line regarding the Belgian neutrality is preposterous in the extreme.

    You obviously know nothing about British foreign policy. They’ve had the same policy since the 1690s yet the ideologues still haven’t noticed.

    • Replies: @fnn
  27. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    “Bohemia and Moravia were mostly German!”

    So where do you suppose the Czechs lived?

  28. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @john cronin

    If Belgium was so “neutral” how come all of its massive forts and defenses were only in the east facing Germany? How come they never built any defensive fortifications along the border with France? A true neutral state like Switzerland fortifies all of its borders and doesn’t trade or sell weapons to one group of belligerents, like the USA gave huge quantities of munitions to the Entente throughout the war.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  29. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @john cronin

    There was nothing in the treaty that said Britain had to make war on any country that violated Belgium’s borders.

  30. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Winston Churchill was a disaster for Great Britain and the world more generally.

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  31. Ron Unz says:

    As I’ve regularly pointed out, it’s very much preferable to combine several small comments into a single, more substantial one to avoid cluttering a thread. Also, we strongly urge commenters to adopt some handle rather than using “Anonymous.”

  32. @Anonymous

    “If Belgium was so “neutral” how come all of its massive forts and defenses were only in the east facing Germany? How come they never built any defensive fortifications along the border with France?”

    What massive forts and defences?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  33. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @john cronin

    Are you kidding me? In the years before the war Belgium built 21 forts along its border with Germany. These were strong fortifications. The Krupp’s armaments makers designed special guns to use against them. The battle of Liege revolved around the forts. The entire German-Belgium border is where the French-speaking Walloons live. Needless to say there were no defenses constructed on the border with France. Being 40% Francophone, Belgium’s sympathies will always lie with France in any Franco-German war.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  34. @Anonymous

    Next you’ll be telling us Belgium invaded Germany.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  35. fnn says:

    I hold more with Prof. Ralph Raico’s take on the origins of the war:

  36. @Fran Macadam

    My observation was 90 degrees from that of Macadam —

    Why did the author not factor in the very real grievances Germans had against numerous Jewish leaders for their roles in perpetuating the blockade of Germany that caused the deaths of 800,000 German civilians;

    why no mention of the “Jewish triumph at Versailles” — at the cost of both Germany and the Arab states of former Ottoman empire;

    why no mention of the burden on politically and economically weakened Germany of the massive influx of Russian- and Polish-Jewish immigrants;

    why no mention of the Jewish-led economic/financial war against Germany, begun in earnest in March 1933;

    Believe it or not, much of the sentient world is aware of strife between Germans and Jews between 1881 and 1950.

    But very few have had the courage to ask WHY that strife occurred.

    The other side of the story has not yet been told, all these years later. Thus, the situation cannot be adequately analysed in order to fend off another recurrence. Calling out “antisemite” and “holocaust denial” is not an argument, it is a distraction from the necessary work of doing accurate scholarship.

  37. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @john cronin

    Next you’ll be telling us the British empire was built with kind words and a gentle smile.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  38. @Anonymous

    As I have previously stated, changing the subject does not constitute a refutation to an argument.

    Germany invaded Belgium. They cynically violated Belgian neutrality, knowing full well that this was likely to bring Britain into the war, but hoping that they would be victorious before the Brits could mobilise properly. It nearly came off.

    Had Germany attacked France without violating Belgian neutrality, it is hard to see how the UK govt could have sold war to the House of Commons, let alone wider public opinion. Germany would probably have eventually prevailed against France, and Britain – and the U.S. -would never have been dragged into it.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @Anonymous
  39. Sean says:
    @john cronin

    “And the U.S. -would never have been dragged into it.”

    Ha ha ha. The US came in because Germany was winning, twice.

  40. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @john cronin

    The U.K govt didn’t have to ‘sell’ the war to the house of commons. Unlike America where the congress declares war, the British govt just declares war. It needs no parliamentary vote on it. The U.K had pursued hostile relations with Germany, which it saw as a rival to its economy, power and status, for years before the war. The invasion of Belgium just gave the British a propaganda excuse to declare war, painting themselves as “liberators” and “defenders” of small nations (like Ireland, huh sport). There was nothing in the treaty that said Britain had to declare war on any power that violated Belgian territorial integrity or send troops to the continent to defend her. It just was a propaganda excuse. Britain fought Germany to maintain her political, commercial, naval and economic dominance and position. NOTHING ELSE. But the costs for Britain were too high. In 1914 German workers were well fed and well housed and given good pensions. British workers were crammed into the worst industrial slums in all of Europe. Any casual and unbiased observer walking around German and British cities before the war, would say that Germans were better off and better treated by their elites then Britons were. Germany was not morally inferior to Britain at all.

  41. Your comments on the well fed, well housed, well pensioned German workers, while correct, are totally irrelevant to the points at issue. I am tired of repeating myself, but changing the subject is not a counter argument. In many ways Germany was more advanced than Britain at the time: this is irrelevant to the debate.

    Britain could not countenance a hostile expansionist power occupying the whole English Channel/North Sea area, as this was a potentially mortal threat to Britain. Germany forced war on Britain by invading Belgium, and that’s all there is to it.

    • Replies: @Sean
  42. Sean says:
    @john cronin

    Grey had identified Germany as the enemy in in 1901. In 1905 when due to the chaos in Russia, Germany could have probably won against Britain, France and the aforementioned chaotic Russia, Germany prefered to get a treaty with Russia (which the Russians soon tore up). France was allied with Russia, Britain had given assurances to France, and Wilson the army chief had established cooperation with Germany. So there was never any question that the British were committed to entering the war on France’s side. Meaning, Britain with its French ally would have violated Belgian neutrality if Germany had not.

    The modern democratic nature of Germany was an important reason for the war. 1) Germany by some measures was more democratic than Britain (which ruled an Empire without asking what the people in India thought let us not forget). Germany was was certainly less centralised than the other major powers, and because Prussia was distrusted the powerful regions such as Bavaria refused to allow the full wealth of Germany to be used for military purposes, the inability of Germany to bring its vast wealth to bear made German statesman fear Russia would be unstoppable with the completion of the military railway improvements the French were bankrolling. 2) The politically influential German socialists hated the ideological nature of the Tsarist regime, as did Jews in Germany and elsewhere.

    • Replies: @Sean
  43. Sean says:

    Correction: I meant Wilson the British army chief had established cooperation with France.

  44. “Grey had identified Germany as the enemy in in 1901.”

    Well of course he bloody had, as Germany had spent the previous decade building up a massive navy, the only possible purpose of which to ultimately launch a challenge to British naval superiority. There was no tactical reason for this: just seems to have been entirely due to the Kaiser’s irrational desire to keep up with the Jones’s. Germany did not NEED such a massive navy, as Bismarck repeatedly pointed out.

    “Britain with its French ally would have violated Belgian neutrality if Germany had not.”

    Er, evidence? Britain and France managed to go for four yrs without violating Dutch, Scandinavian or Swiss neutrality.

    “The modern democratic nature of Germany was an important reason for the war. 1) Germany by some measures was more democratic than Britain (which ruled an Empire without asking what the people in India thought let us not forget). ”

    Relevance??? as my history tutor used to scribble on my essays when I failed to keep to the point.

    Germany was by many measures more advanced than Britain socially, politically economically and culturally. However, it was also run by an ultra militarist Prussian Junker class who had always regarded blut und eisen as the answer to all problems, foreign and domestic, and whose foreign policy was frequently at the whim of a bombastic and rather neurotic Kaiser whose psyche was to a large extend dominated by a massive inferiority complex vis a vis the British Empire – and his relatives who occupied it’s throne.

    Germany still invaded Belgium and that’s all there is to it.

  45. Sean says:

    British military plans to move into Belgium had been predicated (as in Wilson’s 1908 staff college problem scenario) on a German invasion of Belgium . While it is true Britain ostensibly entered the war on the side of France due to the invasion of Belgium, if the Germans had not gone through Belgium but were defeating france anyhow, it is very difficult to believe Britain would have been soooo squeamish about Belgium’s neutral status that it would have let Germany win the war.

    Germany’s navy was not intended to fight a war it was an ill considered policy aping Britain and appeared to be based on a belief that world power came from showing the flag. The Kaisers friend Ballin the shipping tycoon had a lot to do with it.

    Anyway, Germany was just too big, its wealth and expanding population made it a potential threat , that’s why Grey identified Germany as the enemy. Germany could not have escaped being thought of as a threat whatever it did (Read ‘The Tragedy of Great Power Politics’). A foolish failure to attack its enemies in 1905 caused Germany to find itself in a war with an alliance that had double the population in addition to being stronger industrially and financially. So the lesson of Germany might take from the origin of its defeat in WW1 might not so much to worry about British sense of international law, but to think Germany was too nicey nicey and didn’t fight the aggressive war in 1905 when it would have an excellent chance of winning.

    Britain’s involvement was certain from the moment the Russians took the irrevocable step of mobilising, because there was a military understanding with France and France had an outright alliance with Russia, who had ambitions of capturing the Straits. Serbia wanted to start a general war, and their backers Russia, war was a way to get the Straights and thanks to French foreign policy, Russia was able to to lock Britain and France into a war of Russia’s choosing.

    Germany’s democratic system gave influence over policy to socialists, who hated Russia and it did not use its strength for a build up because it had regions that were anti Prussian and anti high tax for defence. A less democratic and more centralised Germany would have devoted more resources, which Germany had, to military forces (so the army wouldn’t have said they needed a war because Russia’s relative strength was becoming overwhelming). In addition to being militarily secure, in an undemocratic centralised Germany the socialists would have had less say and so Germany would been less ideologically inimical to the Tsarist regime and less likely to support a war with Russia.

  46. “if the Germans had not gone through Belgium but were defeating france anyhow, it is very difficult to believe Britain would have been soooo squeamish about Belgium’s neutral status that it would have let Germany win the war.”

    Why not? Britain allowed Prussia-Germany to knock out France in 1870 without getting too excited about it. Britain did not enter the war as (a) Bismarck sensibly avoided going through Belgium and (b) left France fairly quickly after imposing a large indemnity and taking Alsace-Lorraine, which did not impinge on British security. As I said Britain signally failed to violate Dutch or Danish neutrality, although those were rather more logical place to open a second front than the Dardenelles.

    “Germany’s navy was not intended to fight a war it was an ill considered policy aping Britain and appeared to be based on a belief that world power came from showing the flag.”

    Precisely. It was a totally pointless exercise in oneupmanship from a man who just liked playing with boats the same way some ten year olds like playing with soldiers. However, from a UK perspective it could only be seen as a threat and possibly a mortal one. Grey was left with little choice but to start regarding Germany as an enemy, just as the Spanish Armada or Napoleon’s boatbuilding at Boulogne. The fear of a surprise German attack could not be ruled out at this time. Read “The Riddle of the Sands” or “The Battle of Dorking.”

    “Britain’s involvement was certain from the moment the Russians took the irrevocable step of mobilising”

    Simply wrong. It could not have passed the cabinet, commons or persuaded wider public opinion if it were not for the invasion of Belgium, during which, incidentally, the Germans murdered 15,000 Belgian civilians, displaced half the population, raped God knows how many Belgian women and destroyed some of the most lovely historical towns in Europe. They’d have done the same if they’d landed in Kent.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  47. @john cronin

    Bismarck obviously realised that the sudden irruption of a united Germany as a military and economic superpower in the centre of Europe would cause massive reverberations throughout Europe: which is why he spent the next 20 years frantically and successfully juggling to preserve the balance of power. As leader of Prussia, he had managed to knock out Denmark, then Austria, then France quickly and easily with relatively few Prussian casualties by taking them on one at a time and not provoking wider alliances against Prussia.

    Once he had succeeded in unifying Germany he stated that “we are a satiated power” ie we have no further demands, and just want to keep the peace.

    He also said “I am no colonies man” – recognising that as an only recently united power, and a virtually landlocked one, Germany was too late to get into the Empire game, as everywhere worth having had already been taken by Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and Holland, and that the Kaiser’s search for “a place in the sun” was foolish and would clearly lead to conflict with Britain. As it was, the only bit of Africa left was Namibia, where the Kaiser’s men quickly massacred a couple of hundred thousand Herero.

    He was a wiser man than the Kaiser, which is why he fired him. “Now I’m no longer there, it’ll all go crash 20 years from now” were his words – in 1894

  48. Sean says:

    Memorandum on the Present State of British Relations with France and Germany
    by Eyre Crowe made it clear that Britain was committed to intervening anywhere it liked. Unfortunately the British did not think ahead, the 1902 treaty with Japan let Japan take out Russia and the resultant weakness of Russia was the main reason that Germany was a threat.

    The prevalence of rape in Belgium (like the prevalence of undefended Boer women and girls on isolated farms suffering by the tens of thousands of black Africans in British service as scouts by the latter stages of the Boer war) was probably exaggerated.

    That Grey and the establishment would attempt to get and likely get parlament to honour the British agreement to fight with France in any war with Germany was quite certain. A comparison to 1870 is silly for reasons that should be clear. When Bismark was in charge Britian feared Russia, and Russia was the natural ememy and brake on Germany. Curzon and the Indian Empire crowd caused the wars.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  49. @Sean

    Pure fantasy. Crowe’s memorandum said no such thing. It merely noted that Germany was a large, aggressive, expansionist country with a bombastic, somewhat erratic head of state which posed a potential threat to Britain, and to the wider balance of power. All of which was true.

    After one particularly bellicose interview the Kaiser gave to a British newspaper in 1906, there was serious talk of asking him to abdicate, such was the disastrous effect of his personal diplomacy. As it was, some of his duties were taken away from him and given to wiser heads to look after in a sort of quiet coup on behalf of the Army. Certainly by the mid point of WW1. he had been taken out of the loop on every area of importance, and the country was effectively been run by Ludendorff and Hindenburg.

    The weakness of Russia was not a threat to Britain: it was just a threat to Russia: if anything Curzon and the Indian lobby would have been relieved by this as it reduced any potential threat to British India.

    With about 40 generally pacifist MP’s from the then brand new Labour Party, and another 70 or so pre 1922 Irish Nationalist MPs in the Commons, it is unlikely that the government could have declared war without the violation of Belgian neutrality.

    • Replies: @Sean
  50. Sean says:
    @john cronin

    China was weak and all powers including ones from Europe were interested making sure their rivals didn’t get a share when carving it up. Japan was able to detach Korea. The Japanese were backed to make trouble for the Russians, which, rightly or wrongly, the British were hypervigilant about. EG the invasion force Curzon dispatched to Tibet, killing a lot of Tibetans, just because there was a Russian Mongol among the tutors of the Dali Lama. The fact is that the British especially Curzon had ideas that Russia was a threat to the Indian Empire, and that Britain would be relegated to 3rd rank power without India, (though it made a loss since the end of the opium exports to China). The British alliance with Japan exposed Russia (because it meant Russia’s ally France wouldn’t help them fight Japan as it would mean France fighting Japan’s ally Britain). Britain’s backing enabled Russia to be crushed by Japan, which was seen as a democracy in the US. Russia descended into revolutionary chaos, so Germany could have attacked a feeble Russia in 1905 and that would have been the end of that. But only a few Germans wanted to do that and the Kaiser refused to do it.

    Wikipedia on Fisher the (half Malaysian) British Navy chief “In his capacity as First Sea Lord, Fisher proposed multiple times to King Edward VII that Britain should take advantage of its naval superiority to “Copenhagen” the German fleet at Kiel – that is, to destroy it with a pre-emptive surprise attack without declaration of war, as the Royal Navy had done against the Danish Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. In his memoirs, Fisher records a conversation where he was informed that “by all from the German Emperor downwards [he] was the most hated man in Germany”, as the Emperor “had heard of [Fisher’s] idea for the “Copenhagening” of the German Fleet.” Fisher further added that he doubted that the suggestion had leaked out, and believed that “[the Emperor] only said it because he knew it was what [the British] ought to have done.”[93]”.
    And, by the way, Joffre wanted to immediately attack Germany through Belgium in the event of war but was overruled. (Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War p43 and 25)

    The cause of the weakness of Russia was the defeat by Japan, and Britain only began a massive military expansion after the temporary but effective removal of Russia from the anti German calculus in 1905 , because Germany had a massive boost in relative power, it became a threat, through not being balanced by Russia. The French footed the bill for military infrastructure in Russia, causing it to become a steamroller that Germany would be hard put to stop unless it took out the Russian ally France quickly and while it was true there was no formal alliance there were certainly preparations and undertaking by the French and British. They knew exactly what moves Germany could make and prepared for it years before the event. Germany was more democratic than Russia, which the French encouraged to behave aggressively.

    Bernhard von Bülow thought could Germany could cope with the forces against it and there was no need for war, but as already mentioned Germany couldn’t use its potential because it was decentralised and democratic . Germany’s ally Austria had a similar problem because the Hungarians would not countenance more spending on the armed forces. So, the German leadership made a reasonable assessment by 1912 that the relative strength of Germany was deteriorating. The Serbs were backed by the Russians and the Russian decision to mobilise was what sparked the war. France was the éminence grise behind the war, and Russia started it.

  51. Fisher was half Malaysian? Dunno where you got that information. It is inconceivable that someone of Asian extraction could have risen to head the Royal Navy.

    Fisher might have proposed the Copenhagen solution to the German Navy: the point is, it was just a proposal. It was never put into practice. All armed forces in peacetime draw up potential plans of action to deal with potential threats, most of which do not materialise. There were probably similar plans to deal with possible war with France, right up until the Entente.

    Joffre proposed violating Belgian neutrality: again, the point is, his proposal, like Fisher’s was turned down.

  52. Sean says:

    Look at Fisher. The point is that both he and Joffre were willing to propose such things on the grounds they might work. If it had been that or lose…

  53. I have looked at Fisher. It’s called jaundice.

  54. The Kaiser said: ‘I admire Fisher, I say nothing against him. If I were in his place I should do all that he has done and I should do all that I know he has in mind to do’.

    Fisher was forced to retire on reaching 70 years of age in 1911. That year he predicted that war with Germany would break out in October 1914, following the anticipated completion date of work on the Kiel Canal to allow the passage of battleships. However, the Kiel Canal was completed in July, and war commenced in August 1914.

  55. Sean says:

    NYT review of FISHER’S FACE Or, Getting to Know the Admiral. By Jan Morris. 300 pp. New York: Random House. $23.
    WHEN “John Fisher (always known as Jacky) died in 1920, people felt they were mourning the greatest British admiral since Nelson, but today he is so far forgotten that there is no memorial to him anywhere except on his gravestone. He commanded no fleet in action, experienced only two minor battles as a junior officer, and looked more like a Japanese deckhand than an admiral.”

    Maybe he was a Japanese, he certainly was the best thing that every happened to the Japanese navy. Anglo-Japanese Alliance, 1902-1922 By Phillips O’Brien. “IT is sometimes taboo to introduce a hypothetical to history. Nevertheless, if there had been no offer from Admiral Fisher in Malta … there could not have been an overall victory for Japan”. (In fairness the Japanese needed no help from Fisher to roughly handle the British navy in WW2)

    Churchill was a fan of Fisher, and brought him back . What followed was classic Churchill, He insisted on attacking the forts at the entrance of the Dardanelles on 3 November 1914. Whether or not the Turks took it, that was bit of a hint what was coming; and is likely to have been unhelpful for the later full attack on the straits. Churchill was a loose cannon.

  56. None of which responds to any of my points. Undoubtedly Churchill’s reputation is massively greater than deserved, and he managed to kill large numbers of British and Commonwealth servicemen for no particularly good reason: Dardanelles, Dieppe Raid, Anzio, etc etc etc. But this is not relevant to what we are discussing.

  57. Sean says:

    McMeekin author of July 1914: Countdown to War, says “Germany’s civilian leaders, especially Kaiser Wilhelm II, were just as adamantly opposed to the “war party” in Berlin as [was] Franz Ferdinand … in Vienna … So far from backing up the Austrians in some kind of Germanic solidarity against the Slavic threat, the Kaiser was resented in Vienna as a kind of Serbophile; indeed Germany’s sovereign backed Serbia’s claim on Macedonia in the wake of the Balkan Wars, and called Austrian opposition to Serbian port access to the Adriatic Sea “nonsense.” As late as March 1914, the Kaiser angrily wrote that the “stupidity” of the Austrian war party threatened to “stir up the danger of a war with the Slavs, which would leave us quite cold. […]

    Grey’s policy of supporting France had so little support that he had to more or less blackmail his fellow Liberals into falling into line (paradoxically, the fact that the Tory Opposition was more pro-French than the Liberals meant that, if the Cabinet fell, Liberal Ministers opposed to the war would see the Opposition fight it — so they held their noses to support a belligerent line they did not believe in, in order to stay in power). […]

    As for why Poincaré took such a hard line, and encouraged Russia’s early mobilization — that remains one of the great questions of the July crisis. But it may not be that hard to answer. Sometimes historians, in their efforts to make sweeping generalizations, over think things. All the evidence we have on Poincaré suggests that he was a ferocious anti-German patriot, a Lorrainer born in territory lost to Berlin in the Franco-Prussian war who, as he once wrote, “saw no other reason to live than the possibility of recovering our lost provinces.” Of all the powers, one could even say the war was the least complicated for France. Motivation was ample, war aims were simple: avenge 1871. ”

    The French encouraged the Russians to mobilise, knowing the Russians were backing the Serbs. Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clarke, Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge s says the Serbian leadership (including the PM) had extremely close links to the plot to kill Ferdinand.

    Crowe’s memorandum had a laundry list of vague complaints about Germany. Such as the Germans were not stopping German journalists from saying that there was widespread rape of Afrikaner girls during the Boer war.. Germany was not an aggressive dictatorship whose leadership had bizarre ideas, any country in a deteriorating correlation of forces between two powerful enemies would have to destroy the weaker and slower moving one first. The British or at least some elements of the British state gave undertakings to the French., and the French, or at least Poincaré re assured the Russians.

    Mearsheimer “The German decision to push for war in 1914 was not a case of wacky strategic ideas pushing a state to start a war it was sure to lose. It was … a calculated risk motivated in large part by Germany’s desire to break its encirclement by the Triple Entente, prevent the growth of Russian power, and become Europe’s hegemon.”

    • Replies: @john cronin
  58. @Sean

    But: Germany still invaded Belgium. Britain and France did not.

  59. Sean says:

    The massacre of Chumik Shenko shows Britain invading on the flisiest of grounds. This was to defend India from the Russians. “The Great Game” insanity of thinking Russia going to hop over the Himalayas and invade India led to Britain enabling Japan’s defeat of Russia. And as a result within a few years result Britain had committed to fighting on France’s side if it got into a war with Germany, ignoring the fact that the French were thirsting for revenge and the return of Alsace-Lorraine against Germany, which they could get if Russia went to war with Germany)

    As for the actual cause of the war, Grey got Parliament to support Britain declaring war on Germany if it violated Belgian neutrality just before before either France and Germany actually had declared war. So he and the people that mattered were intent on war, and the important decisions were the ones taken before parliament debated the issue. Yes, that was because Germany was at war with France and invaded after requested passage through Belgium was refused.

    Crucially, Grey worried that Britain would not declare war and honour the underpublicised, deal with France, and this proves there was nothing that placed an obligation on Britain to declare war if the Germans entered Belgium. The background included not only the the aforementioned unpublicised preparations at the highest level of the respective militaries by Britain and France (and technical discussions between the Belgian general staff and the British) there was an official Naval agreement with France in 1912. This left the Med to France, replacing the north sea French warships with British battleships out the Med and back into home waters, and gave the British the responsibility ” if the German fleet comes into the Channel or through the North Sea to undertake hostile operations against the French coasts or shipping, the British fleet will give all the protection in its power.”

    While Lord Loreburn complained that Britain’s agreement with France placed Britian in effect in the hands of France’s ally Russia, no one seems to have thought that France might actually get Russia to go to war. In March 1914 Sukhomlinov saidRussia was ready for war and would not be fighting on the defensive.

    Why was Germany was at war with Russia and hence France? Well, in the eighteen months of peace he was president (before war started) Poincaré had made the French military strategy and orientation more aggressive, but cleverly vetoed the Joffre idea for an offensive through Belgium (clearly with an eye to getting Britain to fight) , kept up pressure for the Russian to have a rapid military buildup, and gave them huge loans. Then (although he later denied it) Poincaré encouraged the Russians to mobilise, which they did, and it all kicked off in no uncertain manner.

  60. For possibly the eighth time: Germany invaded Belgium, and by doing so, provoked a British reaction. I am frankly tired of repeating myself. What do you think would have happened had Germany done the sensible thing in 1914, and avoided doing so? Just invaded France?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  61. Sean says:

    I maintain that the invasion of Belgium was not the cause of Britain going to war to war with Germany. If you want to argue that the country that violated Belgian neutrality would have provoked a declaration of war by Britain, you are in effect saying if France had violated the neutrality of Belgium, (as Joffre wanted) Britain would have gone to war with France.

    While it is possible Britain might have not have came to the aid of France if it attacked Germany through Belgium, Britain would never have had gone to war against France. The top level preparations under Wilson and the and battleship dispositions, which included an actual naval treaty with France were aimed at winning a war against Germany.

    Britain was so worried about it’s precious Indian Empire that it gave crucial diplomatic and military assistance for Japan to defeat Russia, thus making Germany threateningly powerful by comparison. Russia then turned away from the east and, with massive financial support from France, started pursuing in the Balkans. Due to encouragement from Poincaré, Russia brought about WW1 by mobilising, hence there was aggression by France in the knowledge it would be fighting with Russia and Britain. After the war Poincaré, was openly accused by the French left of having started whole thing.

    One may think that gives him too much credit, after all he didn’t start WW2; or did he? Apart from backing a breakaway Rhineland Republic, Poincaré ordered the 1923 invasion and occupation of the Ruhr, which discredited moderate politicians as ineffectual and caused Germany to descend into chaos and officially subsidised strikes that caused hyperinflation. (Hitler alone among nationalist opposed this). There was serious unrest by communists and Hitler (whose movement had been aided by the presence of French occupation of all of Rhenish Bavaria) mounted a putsch attempt that made him a national figure.

    In 1929-30 Poincaré and foreign minister Briand again came to Hitler’s aid. The Young plan, which made the Allies owners of the German railway system and mandated reparations until 1988, was opposed by Hitler . From the relative obscurity he had sank back into in Bavaria Hitler was catapulted onto a national platform again. In 1930 the French proposed a united states of Europe, when the Germans rejected the idea the France used its financial muscle to bankrupt the largest Austrian bank (the Kreditanstalt) which caused Germany to slide into a banking crisis and seriously deepened the depression in Germany and the rest of the world including the US.

  62. dfordoom says: • Website

    No one understood what would happen with mass immigration, no one at all.

    Enoch Powell certainly did.

  63. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “Ernst Nolte has conflated…World War I and World War II into one thirty-year event that he has called ‘the European Civil War’”

    That’s inappropriate, considering:

    1). the decisive participant in the first war and among the decisive participants in the second war (the US) and alongside Germany the biggest loser in the second war (Japan) weren’t even European

    2). two of the major participants had radically different regimes from one war to the next, and though the new regimes’ very existence were made more likely (in Germany’s case) or were directly caused by (perhaps in Russia’s case) the first war, there’s no reason to believe anything about the first war necessitated any of their actions in the second; remember, at the beginning of the second war Germany and Russia were allies; Russia ending up on the Anglo-American-Frencho-Sino-whatever side was pure happenstance.

    3). other of the countries fighting in the second war didn’t exist before the first war, and two of the major participants from the first–Austro-Hungary and the Ottomans–had disappeared completely by the second, and at least one major participant switched sides between the two; really, the second could’ve gone a number of different ways and mightn’t have happened at all; knowing all the contingencies makes it hard for me to swallow that it was one big war.

  64. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @john cronin

    Germany would never have just invaded France, Belgium or no Belgium. They had planned to fight Russia, too, and wouldn’t risk Russia attacking their flank while they were busy in the West. But say Germany started the war against Russia and France without crossing neutral territory. Of course Britain wouldn’t stay out. They couldn’t let little people with names none of them could pronounce halfway around the world be, let alone a contest for mastery of the continent next door.

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