My wife was clearly paying attention some weeks ago when I was waxing eloquent over a Victor Davis Hanson podcast appearance, where he was expounding on his latest published work, The Second World Wars. Not that she was paying attention to any of my commentary on the content of the podcast, but rather was noting my interest in acquiring the subject of the podcast. After 29 years of marriage, she doesn’t quite read my mind, but one sometimes thinks so. Christmas was good:
Even better, she rolled the dice and picked up some of his prior works, not realizing that I have a couple already. Fortunately, his oeuvre is large enough that the odds of a duplicate were low, and indeed did not happen. So Ripples of Battle, The Savior Generals, and Why The West Was Won have also joined A War Like No Other and Mexifornia on my shelf.
I’ve worked my way through the first fifth or so of Wars, and the theme is coming through like gangbusters: The Axis Powers were simply outclassed in sheer ability to wage war, in weapons production, manpower, consumables, and all of the logistical considerations needed to put the above into the fray. But pacifism had a great hold in Western Europe between the wars, and Isolationism in the U.S., and the military reality was therefore rarely recognized, and even more rarely believed. Appeasement, driven by both ideologies, was the Axis’ biggest force multiplier. Defeatism was the Axis’ next biggest force multiplier. The latter was particularly important through the dark days of the Battle of Britain, while Britain and its Dominions fought alone.
American politics was reshaped by the Second World Wars to adopt a new militarism on a bipartisan basis. That generation had first-hand experience with the consequences of Appeasement and Isolationism, made clearer with 20/20 hindsight, and wanted no more of either. Sadly, the progressive movement joined hands with postwar socialism and communism, and the twist and turns of that alliance has made appeasement (on the left) and isolationism (on the right) politically acceptable once again. The American people not only failed to raise significant objections to the appeasement policies of the first Obama administration, we re-elected the bastard to continue it for four more years.
While I am encouraged by Trump’s foreign policy actions, particularly his handling of North Korea and the persecution of Israel, there are many currents in American society that will continue to press for pacifist solutions to military problems, and isolationist solutions to global threats. In all such cases, bleeding hearts will appeal to us to recognize the good in our enemies and antagonists, though all of recorded human history shouts of the greed and depravity that spurs the strong to abuse the weak.
Globalism cannot be undone. Travel and technology has made the far side of the world as important as our two coastlines. We must not be weak, neither at home nor abroad.
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