Matt Yglesias points out a passage from Buchanan’s new book (no link to Amazon because I won’t promote it) that reveals some obtuse historical thinking:

Had Britain not given a war guarantee to Poland in March 1939, then declared war on September 3, bringing in South Africa, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, and the United States, a German-Polish war might never have become a six-year world war in which fifty million would perish.

The basic argument seems to be that Britain and France could have (and should have) employed a kind of policy of “dual containment” vis-a-vis Hitler and Stalin. I don’t think I share Buchanan’s rosy assessment of Hitler’s intentions. I probably won’t finish the book, but anyone interested in the conservative anti-imperialist tradition may be interested to know that people do really believe this stuff.

While Ygelsias is focused on what the Allied approach would be, I think it’s more interesting what made the global conflict in Buchanan’s opinion. Did Britain’s and France’s empire condemn us to a “world war” that need not have been? I remember making a similarly stupid assertion about the global nature of WWII, but as an intellectual exercise. However, if we were to assume that Britain and France could keep Germany out of Western Europe (which makes little sense, given French military and diplomatic policy to fight in the East), would the war between Germany and USSR have remained isolated? Probably not. I would tend to think that Japan would still provide a common link between wars in Asia and the Pacific, requiring American and British cooperation. Buchanan, of course, seems intent on proving that the war against Fascism was a sideshow to the clash between capitalism and communism. The notion that the world would be spared 56 million deaths is patently laughable.  Give it up, already.

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