Dec 27, 2003 1:43 am


I rarely include my postings on h-diplo in the blog. But this one I think is of general interest -

Someone asked:"Can this generation learn from the Philippines and Indochina, the perils of a new war in the Middle East?"

This is my answer -

This is the generation of 9/11 that just like the generation of Pearl Harbor has learned the perils of inaction and is rediscovering the importance of distinguishing between the shortcomings of democracy and the evil brought about by tyrants possessed of a virulent ideology. I have recently came across a fascinating book called Conscript Europe written by Randolph Leigh (Eisenhower wrote the preface to his following book) in 1938. It is described in the back cover thus:

This book shows how utterly alien the whole European Concept of today is to the American ideal - how futile it is to try to search out any nation there which embodies enough of our philosophy to justify re-rescuing it.

It is not any-British, though it shows England's oligarchy in the acts of despoiling its own lower classes and reducing much of Africa and Asia to peonage.

It is not anti-French, though it describes France's decay under her post-War mendicancy and under her dissolving social discipline. It is not pro-German, though it shows why Hitler's hard rule is possible and how it may remake Europe.

If this book must be classified as pro or anti anything in Europe, it might be said that it is anti the whole predatory pack now dominant there - even in Holy Albion.

What is striking in this"isolationist" book is the inordinate harshness with which Leigh judges the democracies as compared to his refusal to enumerate the sins of what he calls dictatorships. There is no entry for concentration camps,"people's courts," anti-Semitism, brain washing. In other words, Leigh showed the same disinterest in the atrocities of Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini as the opponents of the Vietnam war showed in the atrocities of Chinese, North Vietnamese or Soviet dictatorships and the same disinterest that the opponents of the war in Iraq show in the atrocities of the Baath, the Taliban or the North Korean Communists.

Leigh ends his book with a chapter called"If Germany wins" in which he ignores Hitler's racist ideology and ridicules the French and British argument that"only 'seasoned' democracies can be trusted to exercise a tolerant despotism over lower civilizations - at a price." Indeed, he predicts that France will conquer and rule Belgium in the same manner that Germany will conquer and rule Poland or the Sudeten land. It ends thus -

A ruthless policy of German expansion, therefore, carried to the point of approximate satisfaction without any serious loss to a single great power might reduce the number of European nations, or major nations and their satellites, to only ten or so. Out of the situation, ironically enough, there might come a revival of the League of Nation, or a United States of Europe on the model of the old Briand dream. Fewer and fatter nations might federate enough to find a way to increase European trade, genuinely reduce armaments and lower taxes.

But, at best, it would be a costly federation and temporary peace. Once thoroughly restored and refreshed, Europe would go back to her great passion - - free-booting at home and abroad.

Clearly, designating Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, as evil and an imminent danger was deemed as unsophisticated in the nineteen thirties as so designating Mao, Ho, Pol Pot was in nineteen seventies or Saddam, Bin Laden, Khameini and Kim is today. Pity.

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