"But before Britain declared war on Germany, France, Holland and Belgium did not need to be liberated. They were free. They were only invaded and occupied after Britain and France declared war on Germany - on behalf of Poland."
-- Pat Buchanan
First George Bush compare Yalta to the appeasement at Munich, and now Pat Buchanan comes forth to argue that America is really to blame (why do these people hate America so much?) for appeasing Hitler ENOUGH.
I'm not a military historian, though I have some graduate study in this field. And I can't be sure, since the device has yet to be invented that fully penetrate Pat Buchanan's mind, but it sounds like he is saying that we, or at least Britain and France, were wrong to declare war on Germany just because it had invaded Poland. Further, that the Western Europe brought all its problems on itself, for provoking Hitler, and still further, that Communism being the real enemy, we should have focused on the Soviet Union (perhaps by making an alliance with the Nazis?)
Now, maybe I'm attacking an argument no serious person the left or right agrees with, except for Pat, and possibly his friends at MSNBC. But there is some commonality with what he is saying and the ideas put forth by George W. Bush and his cohort, namely, that American made a huge mistake in giving away the store at Yalta, and that focusing on Hitler, instead of Stalin, was a strategic and moral error.
This is so ridiculous one hardly knows where to begin. I assume the idea that Hitler would have stopped comfortably at Poland (like he did after Munich) has been thoroughly discounted. Given that, British and French actions were not only justifiable, but necessary. More to the point, one wishes that the U.S. had also declared war right then as well. Instead, as we know, Japan attacked the U.S., before the U.S. declared war, further discrediting Pat's argument.
It is also worth pointing out that Hitler's genocidal war (that is how I see it) would, and ought to have, pushed Britain, France, and the U.S. to eventually declare war even absent strategic reasons. Otherwise they would have sat idly by as Hitler would have been setting up massive death camps in Germany, Poland, Eastern Europe and likely the USSR. If he weren't challenged, Hitler would not have been able to resist the targets to his West, in any case.
As if all that weren't enough, IF Britain, France and the U.S. had been content to sit and watch, then Hitler would have invaded Russia, and either succeed in spreading genocidal fascism to Eastern Europe and the USSR to the Pacific, or the USSR would have prevailed and Communism would have spread, at least to Eastern Europe and probably beyond.
Unless Pat is arguing we should have waited until this happened, then declared war on the Soviets. A rather risky, not to say immoral game, but one suspects the American and British people would have asked the question we would ask Pat now: If the occupation of Poland was not worth fighting over in 1939, why would it be in 1945?
The flip side of this question is easily answered: it simply wasn't feasible to engage the USSR in a war over Eastern Europe in the aftermath of WWII. Of course, this may be argued against, but without a time machine, it will be difficult to come a firm conclusion. Nevertheless, that is the answer.
I'm all for studying historical events in order to learn from them. And we should try to be clear eyed about what was done right and wrong in the past, even on behalf of our nations.
But a culture of truth cannot let Buchanan's remarks go unchallenged. They are ahistorical, non-factual, highly misleading, and, as such, just a little dangerous.