Thursday, 3 June 2004

All This and World War II

All This And World War IIOver at The Command Post you'll find a rarity : two back-to-back Op-Ed columns by me, both dealing (though in different ways) with the Iraq war, and World War II.

In the first, by the unsubtle technique of changing just a few placenames, the truly woeful state of post-war media coverage is exposed. But there's another interpretation : the situation in Germany in 1946 was truly dire, with widespread starvation and near-starvation. The New York Times reports were, on the whole, not too inaccurate in painting a picture of Doom and Gloom. Yet it all turned out well in the end.

In the second, I tried to remind people (if they ever knew) just exactly how strong the Peace movement (usually and inaccurately called the 'Apeasement' movement) was in the USA in 1941. Or at least, up until December 7th. The continuing Anti-war demonstrations, and quality of the arguments against involvement in Iraq, are pale shadows of those of over 60 years ago. Given the enormities committed by Josef Stalin's murderous regime, and the decidedly un-free millions ruled by the British and French Empires, the Allied cause was far less visibly beyond reproach than the Coalition's today.

After Pearl Harbor, the Allied cause became even more dubious. 'Unlawful Combatants', even if American citizens, were tried by military tribunals and executed within a week. Innocent civilians were slain by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, the hundreds of thousands. But few would argue the moral righteousness of the Allied cause today. Few who have studied what means and technologies were available to the Allies at the time would say that the methods were obviously and unneccessarily harsh, though those methods would neither be appropriate nor justifiable in today's environment.

Oh yes, the title of this post? From an all-but-forgotten movie from 1976. A good idea amateurishly executed, it deserves a re-make, even though it tries to banish the Spectres of Auschwitz and Treblinka by singing 'Give Peace a Chance'. Much like the 'America First' Committee in 1941, or the Anti-War factions today. But unlike today, at least the Appeasers and Peace-At-Any-Pricers weren't attempting to purvey their shoddy and devalued intellectual wares in 1946. Many looked at Dresden and Hiroshima, and asked if it was all worth it. Today, we look at the Abu Ghraib photos, and ask ourselves the same question. And if that doesn't offend your sense of proportion, nothing will.

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