Pat Buchanan’s New Book Argues The Second World War Was Unnecessary

Adam Kirsch writes for the NY Sun:

Churchill, of course, was the one British statesman who recognized that a Europe dominated by Hitler could never be at peace, and who never wavered from the consequences of this insight. Here lies his greatness — here, and not in every act and pronouncement of his long, checkered career, which Mr. Buchanan maliciously combs through. Perhaps those who only know Churchill as a name or a bulldog profile will be surprised by Mr. Buchanan’s disclosures — that Churchill was impetuous, a bad military strategist, an unregenerate imperialist. It is rather nauseating, however, to see Mr. Buchanan, of all people, impugning Churchill for racism. He devotes a section of his book to Churchill’s anti-immigration stand in the 1950s: Churchill believed that "Keep England White" was "a good slogan," while Mr. Buchanan calls it "an astonishing slogan in a day when Dr. Martin Luther King … was starting out in Montgomery." He is even brazen enough to write that, had Churchill prevailed, England would not have become "the multiracial, multicultural nation of today."

When one remembers that if there is one cause Mr. Buchanan himself cherishes it is immigration restriction — when one recalls his words on "national suicide" and the "invasion" of America by nonwhites, and his constant inveighing against multiculturalism — when one remembers that the first pages of this very book lament that "as a share of world population, peoples of European ancestry have been shrinking for three generations," that "we are slowly disappearing from the earth" — Mr. Buchanan’s feline criticism of Churchill stands as a piece of truly shameless hypocrisy.

In any case, everything that was weak in Churchill’s character and objectionable in his politics was well-known during his lifetime. In the mid-1930s, indeed, he was one of the most unpopular politicians in Britain. The reason why he came back from exile to be named prime minister in May 1940, England’s darkest hour, was not because he was a perfect statesman but because he was indomitable: "We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." Pity the nation that reaches a point where it needs a Churchill to save it; but pity even more a nation that, needing a Churchill, fails to find one.

Product Description
Were World Wars I and II—which can now be seen as a thirty-year paroxysm of slaughter and destruction—inevitable? Were they necessary wars? Were the bloodiest and most devastating conflicts ever suffered by mankind fated by forces beyond men’s control? Or were they products of calamitous failures of judgment? In this monumental and provocative history, Patrick Buchanan makes the case that, if not for the blunders of British statesmen—Winston Churchill first among them—the horrors of two world wars and the Holocaust might have been avoided and the British Empire might never have collapsed into ruins. Half a century of murderous oppression of scores of millions under the iron boot of Communist tyranny might never have happened, and Europe’s central role in world affairs might have been sustained for many generations.

Among the British and Churchillian blunders were:

• The secret decision of a tiny cabal in the inner Cabinet in 1906 to take Britain straight to war against Germany, should she invade France
• The vengeful Treaty of Versailles that muti- lated Germany, leaving her bitter, betrayed, and receptive to the appeal of Adolf Hitler
• Britain’s capitulation, at Churchill’s urging, to American pressure to sever the Anglo- Japanese alliance, insulting and isolating Japan, pushing her onto the path of militarism and conquest
• The 1935 sanctions that drove Italy straight into the Axis with Hitler
• The greatest blunder in British history: the unsolicited war guarantee to Poland of March 1939—that guaranteed the Second World War
• Churchill’s astonishing blindness to Stalin’s true ambitions.

Certain to create controversy and spirited argument, Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War” is a grand and bold insight into the historic failures of judgment that ended centuries of European rule and guaranteed a future no one who lived in that vanished world could ever have envisioned.

From a review on

Patrick Buchanan has never been shy about taking positions that defy conventional wisdom. He does so again in this extremely well-written and well-documented book (there are over 1300 endnotes). Buchanan argues that both world wars, which constituted a "Civil War of the West", were not necessary and would not have taken place had unwise diplomatic decisions not been made by the major European powers.

In the opening decade of the twentieth century, Germany had a chance to form an alliance with Britain, but let the opportunity pass, as the Kaiser did not believe that England would ever reconcile with France. However, Britain did reconcile with its longtime adversaries, France and Russia, and in 1906 the British secretly agreed to back France should Germany attack. Had the Kaiser known that war with France meant war with Britain, he would have been more conciliatory, as he never wanted war with Britain. On the other hand, had Britain not been pledged to help the French when World War I did come, and had they stayed out of the war, Germany would have defeated France as they had in 1870, but there would have been no Nazi Germany and no Soviet Union as a result the war.

In the interwar years, Britain alienated longtime allies Japan and Italy, who eventually formed an alliance with Nazi Germany.

The Second World War came about, Buchanan believes, as a result of Britain’s disastrous guarantee to protect Poland (which it was incapable of doing anyway). Hitler did not want war with Britain, as evidenced by the fact that he never attempted to build a strong navy. If Germany had moved east and had the democracies not intervened, Buchanan opines, Germany would have run into the Soviet Union and the result would have been a Nazi-Soviet war that the democracies would have watched from the sidelines. The totalitarian nations would have pounded each other to death, while the democracies would have had a chance to rearm and become stronger relative to a decimated Germany and a decimated Russia (and China might not have gone Communist, meaning that millions might not have been murdered there). As it worked out in real life, however, America and Britain had to push all the way eastward through France and only then into the western half of Germany. By the time that they did, the Soviets had clamped down on Eastern Europe. Buchanan judges Churchill harshly–Britain was bankrupt and lost its empire shortly after WWII.

The book is a stark assertion that history could have turned out much differently. And while Buchanan’s thesis is certainly debatable, and while you may not agree with Buchanan’s isolationism concerning today’s world, this book is worth reading since it forces one to reexamine many previous assumptions held by most people (especially those who were born well after World War II and never have heard how history might have turned out differently) concerning the two world wars, and the book is sure to ignite debate on cable news shows and on the talk radio circuit.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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