Pat Buchanan: Was WWII Worth It?

Well, Pat Buchanan (whose name came up in the recent unpleasantness over anti-Semitism on this blog) noted the 60th anniversary of VE Day in his own inimitable way: by asking in a May 11 opinion piece “Was WWII Worth It?” And, of course, by promptly answering his own question: “For Stalin, Yes.” What is truly appalling is less that Buchanan has written this execrable piece of revisionism than that it was run (with no rebuttal) by, which mysteriously continues to have credentials on the “left” even as it becomes more and more transparently linked to the populist right.

It is always a dilemma whether to risk legitimizing evil claptrap by stooping to argue with it. But given how Buchanan’s poison is insidiously creeping into the supposed “left,” a few responses are probably in order.

For starters, Buchanan seems to forget that the U.S. wasn’t involved in WWII until Pearl Harbor, at which point all three Axis powers declared war on us. So we’d love to know how staying out of it was even an option after December 1941. Worse, there is absolutely nothing here about how in fighting the Axis the U.S. began (imperfectly and nowhere near equivalently, but horrifically enough) to mirror the Axis in the forcible internment of the Japanese-Americans; nothing about the war crimes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; nothing about how U.S. involvement in WWII led to the nuclear arms race and the rise of the U.S. to global superpower, ultimately leading to the nightmares of Vietnam and Iraq. These are powerful arguments which apparently mean nothing to Pat.

Instead we get a tirade about the betrayal of Eastern and Central Europe into the hands of the Soviets, and glib pronouncements about how Stalin was just as bad as Hitler. Now, that is a defensible position, but it is clear that Buchanan doesn’t really think so. He has chosen for Hitler and fascism as the defender against the commie menace (as many Americans of his ilk did until Pearl Harbor). He lacks the courage to say so aloud, but it is obvious nonetheless. It is Stalin who wins his title as “the most odious tyrant of the century.” For all his outrage at half of Europe falling under Soviet influence in 1945, he seems quite comfortable with the prospect of fascism stretching from the Volga to Gibraltar—which it did until the Allies started to beat it back after Stalingrad and D-Day.

The clearest evidence is Buchanan’s sentimentality about how “small nations” like Lithuania and Estonia lost their independence to the Soviet monolith in WWII. Yet (as Steve Rendell of FAIR notes in his excellent dossier on Buchanan), Pat has elsewhere written admiringly of Spain’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco (who shot his way to power with the aid of Nazi intervention in 1939), calling him a “Catholic savior” and a “soldier-patriot.” Upon assuming power, Franco (in addition to massacring his enemies by the thousands) immediately rescinded the hard-won political and cultural autonomy of the small nations within Spain–the Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia–even banning their languages (just as Stalin did in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia).

It seems the suffering of small nations is meaningless to Buchanan when it is at the hands of fascists rather than communists. For good measure, Buchanan also writes, in his weasily pseudo-equivalism: “Where Hitler killed his millions, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, and Castro murdered their tens of millions.” Not only is the “tens of millions” figure questionable at best, but it is only through the sophistry of using a collective figure that he can throw Ho and Castro in with the rest. His pal Franco’s reprisals in ’39 far outstripped those of Castro in ’59. Even within Latin America, Chile’s anti-communist savior Augusto Pinochet (another of Pat’s fond “soldier-patriots”) killed far more people in his ’73 coup than Castro did in ’59–probably exponentially more. Buchanan is in no moral position to lecture us about mass murder.

But, again, what is more appalling than this hypocrisy (we expect nothing less from this crypto-fascist buffoon) is that more and more folks on the supposed “left” are falling for it.

  1. has never had a pretense of being anything but right-wing libertarians. Its editor-in-chief, Justin Raimondo, gave the nominating speech for Buchanan at the Reform Party convention. They have always run Buchanan’s pieces. I don’t know which “left” you are referring to (Mother Jones? Ha). Frankly, does a better job providing daily links to stories on the various world conflicts than anyone else. But this does not give their editorial line “creds” w/this particularly lefty, and when they asked us to trade links I refused because of their editorial stance. However, just as WW4 prides itself on providing information left or right would find equally useful, and we have the fan mail to prove it, so is useful in the same way.

  2. Pat Buchanan – WWII
    The US WAS very much involved in WWII before Pearl Harbour. US companies and associates (especially) bankers financed and supplied many of the things that Hitler (and to be fair, the – what were to become Allies – required. IBM the Hollerith accounting systems so masterfully used in the slave camps and concentration camps, financing the chemical industry, supplying engines etc etc.,

    To try and rank the equivalance of evil is pointless, like saying would Drobney have beaten Jimmy Connors or could Weismuller outswim Spitz. Hitler, Stalin, Dubya are all responsible in their own way for directing military slaughter of inoccents – and often the not so inoccent.

    That PB sits back in his anecdotage and says, “what was it all about?” is hardly remarkable.

    His two most recent books are the most penetrating analysis of the decline of the West,it’s culture and it’s commerce and it’s consequences I have read.

    One may reasonably cavil at the detail but after that, he writes with style, wit and wisdom. Crypto fascist buffoon ?

    I don’t see him shovelling the corpses in the boilers, supporting the horrors of Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Diego Garcia, Guantanamo, “rendering” supporting the likes of body boiler Karimov, as the curent US regime supported by the Craven Blair do.

    You should choke on the word hypocrisy.

    1. crypto fascist buffoon?
      Buchanan, shortly before he announced he was running for president in 1995: “You just wait until 1996, then you’ll see a real right-wing tyrant.” (The Nation, 6/26/95

      On African-Americans

      After Sen. Carol Moseley Braun blocked a federal patent for a Confederate flag insignia, Buchanan wrote that she was “putting on an act” by associating the Confederacy with slavery: “The War Between the States was about independence, about self-determination, about the right of a people to break free of a government to which they could no longer give allegiance,” Buchanan asserted. “How long is this endless groveling before every cry of ‘racism’ going to continue before the whole country collectively throws up?” (syndicated column, 7/28/93)

      On race relations in the late 1940s and early 1950s: “There were no politics to polarize us then, to magnify every slight. The ‘negroes’ of Washington had their public schools, restaurants, bars, movie houses, playgrounds and churches; and we had ours.” (Right from the Beginning, Buchanan’s 1988 autobiography, p. 131)

      Buchanan, who opposed virtually every civil rights law and court decision of the last 30 years, published FBI smears of Martin Luther King Jr. as his own editorials in the St. Louis Globe Democrat in the mid-1960s. “We were among Hoover’s conduits to the American people,” he boasted (Right from the Beginning, p. 283).

      White House advisor Buchanan urged President Nixon in an April 1969 memo not to visit “the Widow King” on the first anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, warning that a visit would “outrage many, many people who believe Dr. King was a fraud and a demagogue and perhaps worse…. Others consider him the Devil incarnate. Dr. King is one of the most divisive men in contemporary history.” (New York Daily News, 10/1/90)

      In a memo to President Nixon, Buchanan suggested that “integration of blacks and whites — but even more so, poor and well-to-do — is less likely to result in accommodation than it is in perpetual friction, as the incapable are placed consciously by government side by side with the capable.” (Washington Post, 1/5/92)

      In another memo from Buchanan to Nixon: “There is a legitimate grievance in my view of white working-class people that every time, on every issue, that the black militants loud-mouth it, we come up with more money…. If we can give 50 Phantoms [jet fighters] to the Jews, and a multi-billion dollar welfare program for the blacks…why not help the Catholics save their collapsing school system.” (Boston Globe, 1/4/92)

      Buchanan has repeatedly insisted that President Reagan did so much for African-Americans that civil rights groups have no reason to exist: “George Bush should have told the [NAACP convention] that black America has grown up; that the NAACP should close up shop, that its members should go home and reflect on JFK’s admonition: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for your country.'” (syndicated column, 7/26/88)

      In a column sympathetic to ex-Klansman David Duke, Buchanan chided the Republican Party for overreacting to Duke and his Nazi “costume”: “Take a hard look at Duke’s portfolio of winning issues and expropriate those not in conflict with GOP principles, [such as] reverse discrimination against white folks.” (syndicated column, 2/25/89)

      Trying to justify apartheid in South Africa, he denounced the notion that “white rule of a black majority is inherently wrong. Where did we get that idea? The Founding Fathers did not believe this.” (syndicated column, 2/7/90) He referred admiringly to the apartheid regime as the “Boer Republic”: “Why are Americans collaborating in a U.N. conspiracy to ruin her with sanctions?” (syndicated column, 9/17/89)

      On Immigrants And People Of Color

      “There is nothing wrong with us sitting down and arguing that issue that we are a European country.” (Newsday, 11/15/92)

      Buchanan on affirmative action: “How, then, can the feds justify favoring sons of Hispanics over sons of white Americans who fought in World War II or Vietnam?” (syndicated column, 1/23/95)

      In a September 1993 speech to the Christian Coalition, Buchanan described multiculturalism as “an across-the-board assault on our Anglo-American heritage.”

      “If we had to take a million immigrants in, say Zulus, next year, or Englishmen, and put them up in Virginia, what group would be easier to assimilate and would cause less problems for the people of Virginia?” (“This Week With David Brinkley,” 1/8/91)

      On Jews

      Buchanan referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli-occupied territory.” (St. Louis Post Dispatch, 10/20/90)

      During the Gulf crisis: “There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East — the Israeli defense ministry and its ‘amen corner’ in the United States.” (“McLaughlin Group,” 8/26/90)

      In a 1977 column, Buchanan said that despite Hitler’s anti-Semitic and genocidal tendencies, he was “an individual of great courage…Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.” (The Guardian, 1/14/92)

      Writing of “group fantasies of martyrdom,” Buchanan challenged the historical record that thousands of Jews were gassed to death by diesel exhaust at Treblinka: “Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody.” (New Republic, 10/22/90) Buchanan’s columns have run in the Liberty Lobby’s Spotlight, the German-American National PAC newsletter and other publications that claim Nazi death camps are a Zionist concoction.

      Buchanan called for closing the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which prosecuted Nazi war criminals, because it was “running down 70-year-old camp guards.” (New York Times, 4/21/87)

      Buchanan was vehement in pushing President Reagan — despite protests — to visit Germany’s Bitburg cemetery, where Nazi SS troops were buried. At a White House meeting, Buchanan reportedly reminded Jewish leaders that they were “Americans first” — and repeatedly scrawled the phrase “Succumbing to the pressure of the Jews” in his notebook. Buchanan was credited with crafting Ronald Reagan’s line that the SS troops buried at Bitburg were “victims just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.” (New York Times, 5/16/85; New Republic, 1/22/96)

      After Cardinal O’Connor criticized anti-Semitism during the controversy over construction of a convent near Auschwitz, Buchanan wrote: “If U.S. Jewry takes the clucking appeasement of the Catholic cardinalate as indicative of our submission, it is mistaken. When Cardinal O’Connor of New York seeks to soothe the always irate Elie Wiesel by reassuring him ‘there are many Catholics who are anti-Semitic’…he speaks for himself. Be not afraid, Your Eminence; just step aside, there are bishops and priests ready to assume the role of defender of the faith.” (New Republic, 10/22/90)

      The Buchanan ’96 campaign’s World Wide Web site included an article blaming the death of White House aide Vincent Foster on the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad — and alleging that Foster and Hillary Clinton were Mossad spies. (The campaign removed the article after its existence was reported by a Jewish on-line news service; Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 2/21/96.)

      In his September 1993 speech to the Christian Coalition, Buchanan declared: “Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free.” (ADL Report, 1994)

      On Gays

      In a 1972 memo to Richard Nixon, Buchanan referred to one of George McGovern’s leading financial contributors as a “screaming fairy.” (Newsday, 2/8/89) Buchanan has repeatedly used the term “sodomites,” and has referred to gays as “the pederast proletariat.” (Washington Post, 2/9/92)

      “Homosexuality involves sexual acts most men consider not only immoral, but filthy. The reason public men rarely say aloud what most say privately is they are fearful of being branded ‘bigots’ by an intolerant liberal orthodoxy that holds, against all evidence and experience, that homosexuality is a normal, healthy lifestyle.” (syndicated column, 9/3/89)

      In a 1977 column urging a “thrashing” of gay groups, Buchanan wrote: “Homosexuality is not a civil right. Its rise almost always is accompanied, as in the Weimar Republic, with a decay of society and a collapse of its basic cinder block, the family.” (New Republic, 3/30/92)

      “Gay rights activists seek to substitute, for laws rooted in Judeo-Christian morality, laws rooted in the secular humanist belief that all consensual sexual acts are morally equal. That belief is anti-biblical and amoral; to codify it into law is to codify a lie.” (Buchanan column in Wall Street Journal, 1/21/93)

      On AIDS, Buchanan wrote in 1983: “The poor homosexuals — they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution (AIDS).” (Los Angeles Times, 11/28/86) Later that year, he demanded that New York City Ed Koch and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo cancel the Gay Pride Parade or else “be held personally responsible for the spread of the AIDS plague.” “With 80,000 dead of AIDS, our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide,” Buchanan wrote in 1990 (syndicated column, 10/17/90). In the 1992 campaign, he declared: “AIDS is nature’s retribution for violating the laws of nature.” (Seattle Times, 7/31/93)

      On Women

      “Rail as they will about ‘discrimination,’ women are simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of Western capitalism.” (syndicated column, 11/22/83)

      “The real liberators of American women were not the feminist noise-makers, they were the automobile, the supermarket, the shopping center, the dishwasher, the washer-dryer, the freezer.” (Right from the Beginning, p. 149)

      “If a woman has come to believe that divorce is the answer to every difficult marriage, that career comes before children … no democratic government can impose another set of values upon her.” (Right from the Beginning, p. 341)

      On Democracy

      Attacking what he considers the “democratist temptation, the worship of democracy as a form of governance,” Buchanan commented: “Like all idolatries, democratism substitutes a false god for the real, a love of process for a love of country.” (Patrick J. Buchanan: From the Right, newsletter, Spring/90)

      In a January, 1991 column, Buchanan suggested that “quasi-dictatorial rule” might be the solution to the problems of big municipalities and the federal fiscal crisis: “If the people are corrupt, the more democracy, the worse the government.” (Washington Times, 1/9/91) He has written disparagingly of the “one man, one vote Earl Warren system.”

      In Right from the Beginning, Buchanan refers to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco as a “Catholic savior.” He called Franco, along with Chile’s Gen. Pinochet, “soldier-patriots.” (syndicated column 9/17/89) Both men overthrew democracy in their countries.

      Buchanan devotes a chapter of his autobiography — “As We Remember Joe” — to defending Senator Joe McCarthy. He advocated that Nixon “burn the tapes” during Watergate, and he criticized Reagan for failing to pardon Oliver North over Iran-contra.

      Buchanan, shortly before he announced he was running for president in 1995: “You just wait until 1996, then you’ll see a real right-wing tyrant.” (The Nation, 6/26/95)

    2. Yes, crypto-fascist buffoon
      And just barely crypto, at that. If he ever got within spitting distance of the White House, he’d be shovelling corpses into boilers alright (or ordering others to do so), as his own words make abundantly clear. He is merely at the “Beerhall Putsch” stage of the game. What some perceive as his “style and wit” and, more importantly, his appropriation of populist political space (I won’t concede the “wisdom”) merely make him more dangerous. Furthermore, Mr. Teague should learn how to write as well as think before he advises others to “choke” on their words. Didn’t they teach you to close parenthesis in grade school?

      1. incidentally…
        I won’t jump into the Buchanan debate (because I don’t think there is a debate), but merely want to ask: Anyone catch James Wolcott’s shout-out to on his blog a while back? What kind of foolishness is that?

        1. Gee thanks, James
          Wolcott throws a publicity bone to WW4 REPORT’s two most bitter rivals (not counting Counterpunch, I suppose), and the Narco News. What are we, chopped liver, James?

          Wolcott writes: “Antiwar is the full-service station for anti-imperialist news and opinions you won’t find in the pages of the establishment press, providing a noisy, busy intersection for lefties, libertarians, and paleocons alike.”

          Yeah, could be. But WW4 REPORT is smarter than both of them put together. And if we had the resources, we’d be just as comprehensive as AntiWar, but instead provide an intersection for Greens, anarchists, and indigenists.

          BTW, we don’t hate everyone. We just happen to think the most popular “anti-war” websites are also the most over-rated. See our extensive links page (which we are now in the process of updating) for lots of websites we find vital and worthwhile.