Initial Thoughts on Buchanan's "Unnecessary War"
June 9, 2008
Any book about Hitler, Churchill, or the World Wars will grab the attention this history junkie. Taking a radical view on either one will certainly peak my interest. That's why calling the world wars unnecessary and treating Churchill as the real war-monger (instead of Hitler) is a sure way to sell me a book.
After reading Buchanan's article to help sell Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, I knew there had to be more. What is the purpose of writing this book? After digging through the first few introductions, I believe I have found it.
Understanding Buchanan's Isolationism
Patrick J. Buchanan is an isolationist. Anytime someone listens to this political commentator, they should keep that in the forefront of their mind.
In the 1996 Republican primaries, Buchanan was ahead of his time by proclaiming he'd build a wall between the United States and Mexico to curb illegal aliens from entering the country. I remember this fondly as I debated this topic in High School with other students while we prepared for our mock elections.
At the time, the wall was a radical idea, but today, there is legislation that has been passed to build portions of Buchanan's '96 campaign promise.
Buchanan's State of Emergency gave loads of data that showed the disturbing rate at which illegal aliens were entering the United States, committing crimes, and staying in the country to commit more crimes.
In 2005, Buchanan proclaimed that George W. Bush should be impeached for failure to protect the country from illegal immigration.
As for globalization, Buchanan opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He has also opposed many other military operations throughout the past few decades that involved the U.S. getting involved in "other peoples' issues".
Before anyone picks up this book, they should keep these views of the author in mind to understand what filter he is using the write the book.
The Real Purpose of the Book
The publicized purpose of the book is to explain how the "West" lost its prominence in the world. Buchanan says he aims to explain that through the course of the world wars there were 5 Western Empires that were decimated and it all could have been avoided.
However, there's more beneath the surface.
Buchanan has found himself in many debates concerning war in which the names of Churchill and Hitler were invoked by the opposing side to defend military action. The common perception is that Hitler was evil incarnate and would have conquered the world if it weren't for Winston Churchill leading the English people to stand up against him until America entered the war.
The respect and admiration for Churchill is so overwhelming in England and America that Buchanan can't stand it. The hate for Hitler is just as overwhelming. Whenever there is a dictator bullying a group of people around, Buchanan hears the dictator labeled as the next "Hitler" which leads others to ask "Who will be the Churchill to stand up to this dictator?" This is of course followed up by people proclaiming that tough decisions need to be made that require the courage of someone like Churchill.
Buchanan refers to this group of people as a cult that worships the legendary Prime Minister and he blames this cult for dragging America into the current Iraq conflict.
Buchanan does agree that Churchill did something great for the world by standing up to Hitler while he was Prime Minister and Hitler was a monster who committed atrocities. However, he believes that the reason the world even had to stand up to such a monster is due to bad politics and war-mongering by people like Churchill dating all the way back to 1906. The situation in which Churchill stood up to the greatest evil seen in our lifetime was created by Churchill and in a word "unnecessary".
By pushing this angle and helping to dispel the infallibility of Churchill, Buchanan hopes to find it easier to push isolationism along with politics instead of war.
Dissecting Buchanan's Book
I've already begun reading through Buchanan's book. Over the next few months, there will be more articles published that review and analyze the arguments and rationality.
I offer this as a service to those who may not have time to read the book and for those who are history junkies like me.