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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Defending Churchill

The Villadom Times, a local New Jersey newspaper, ran a column by staffer John Koster extolling Pat Buchanan's view that Churchill was to blame for World War II. I wrote a letter to the editor, which the paper has run. Neither it nor the column is online but here's my letter:
John Koster’s August 13 column “Was this trip really necessary?” grossly distorts a broad swath of 20th-century history. Notwithstanding the German aggressions that led to World Wars I and II, Koster thinks both wars were “prompted in part by Churchill’s insatiable lust for personal glory.” Tellingly, he neglects to specify anything that Churchill did prior to World War I, and he glides over the fact that Churchill was out of power during most of the 1930s. Koster blames Churchill for the prolonged blockade against Germany as World War I ended, when in fact it was Churchill who, alone in the British Cabinet, argued for rushing ships loaded with provisions to Hamburg.
In the run-up to World War II, if Churchill’s anti-appeasement advice had been followed, the war may well have been prevented; German officers were ready to overthrow Hitler in 1935 if the Allies resisted his remilitarization of the Rhineland. Nor is it plausible that Churchill “shrugged off” the Soviet massacre of Polish officers, when in fact he was the Allied leader most determinedly opposed to Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. At the end of his essay, Koster throws in an irrelevant swipe against Charles Darwin, perhaps just to show that no illiberal conceit is too inane for Koster’s embrace.

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