Churchill was a hero of my youth, based mainly on my reading of his autobiography and his history of WW II. I have since come to have a better appreciation of his flaws and errors, but I was still intrigued when I saw the sublead on the Christopher Hitchen's Review of Pat Buchanan's new book: Revisionists say that World War II was unnecessary. They're wrong. Buchanan's book, Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, according to Hitchens, argues that:
- That Germany was faced with encirclement and injustice in both 1914 and 1939.
Britain in both years ought to have stayed out of quarrels on the European mainland.
That Winston Churchill was the principal British warmonger on both occasions.
The United States was needlessly dragged into war on both occasions.
That the principal beneficiaries of this were Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
That the Holocaust of European Jewry was as much the consequence of an avoidable war as it was of Nazi racism.
I have no interest in Buchanan's arguments, and Hitchens makes short work of them, but I was more interested in the fact that Hitchens, or at least his editor, seems unaware of the origin of the phrase "The Unnecessary War." It is Churchill's, from the first volume of his history of WW II, and I have remembered it these past forty years.
He was referring not to any Buchanan style isolationist notion of letting Hitler be Hitler, but to the notion that Hitler could have been very easily defeated if he had been confronted in 1936 or 1938. He pointed out, or at least claimed, that the munitions produced by the Czechoslovak's Skoda plant were more than the munitions output of all of Germany at that time.