The more I consider Pat Buchanan’s comments–calling on snipers to shoot “coyotes”–the more I believe he would turn the border into a front.  The notion that snipers would distinguish between the coyote and the illegal immigrant is absurd.  Every person crossing would be a legitimate target.  Moreover, their killing could not be described as an execution of the law (illegal immigration is illegal, not criminal).  Unfortunately, so-called opponents of immigration reform will exploit the war between the drug cartels and the Mexican government to radicalize their agenda.

Like a fool, I’ve tried to piece together a plausible narrative that describes what motivates the group dynamics at the fore of Gosford Park.  The best I can say is that Lord Stockbridge wanted to remove his capital from investments in the British Empire and move them into more lucrative and modern industries, namely entertainment (because of his peculiar interest in the filmmakers’ business seemed to excite the jealousies of his family, many of whom made their living through imperialism).  His murder insured that empire would go on blissfully without reflecting on its weaknesses, although we all know it would eventually fail.

This all came to mind as I watched Pat Buchanan on Morning Joe insist that Britain unnecessarily risked its empire fighting Germany in WWII.  It seems that the mechanism that informs Buchanan’s historical analysis is that Britain’s decision to become involved in the war had the effect of expanding the war beyond what Hitler had intended.  Indeed, the choices that British governments made created an ever-escalating conflict.  To Buchanan, had the British not become involved, there would have been no loss of empire, a limited Holocaust, and no war in Western Europe.  And because of the war that led to the loss of empire, the West lost its ability to contain extremism globally.

Resisting the urge to debate him on the points (how could German honor be satisfied without defeating the French republic?), I find what may seem to be a worldview antithetical to the one Bush expressed in the Knesset, equally as dangerous.  Both speak against diplomatic engagement.  Both are premised on the question of whether force can be used to maintain order.  Both asks us to wait around until problems can only be resolved by armed intervention (I’ll give Buchanan at least the benefit of having a higher threshold than Buchanan).  Both point to the weaknesses of the conservative opinion of diplomacy: unnecessary as a prelude to force.

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.