Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Deep Stupid #2

Pat Buchanan is amazing.

I'm not sure what his point is here. There must be one. I suspect it to be profoundly sinister.*

Here are Buchanan's actual words:

Hitler had never wanted war with Poland, but an alliance with Poland such as he had with Francisco Franco's Spain, Mussolini's Italy, Miklos Horthy's Hungary and Father Jozef Tiso's Slovakia.

Perhaps the stupid wouldn't resonate so powerfully, if I hadn't read this,** by somebody who actually knows what he is talking about, just a couple of days ago.

It came a day after the Gleiwitz incident, one part of Operation Himmler. The latter had German troops dressed in Polish uniforms attacking German emplacements along the border in order to give a casus belli. At Gleiwitz, for example, an SS unit so dressed attacked a German radio transmitter and then retreated, leaving behind dead bodies also dressed in Polish uniforms. The bodies–those of concentration camp inmates–were called Konserve, or “Canned Goods.”

A hat tip to DeLong, who comes down hard on Buchanan, so I don't have to.

If you don't want war with Poland, bozo, it's easy not to have one: if you don't want war with Poland, simply don't attack Poland.

This could also have been categorized under Republicans: All Wrong, All the Time. Those words are synonymous with DEEP STUPID.

Thursday 9/03 Update: In comments, J calls the bloggers at EOTAW hacks. Draw your own conclusions on that score. But this: "(They also ban anyone who refuses to sort of join in the chants as well)" is pretty well refuted by the dialog accompanying this article. In contrast to J, I have been impressed at times by the thoughtfulness and patience with which the EOTAW bloggers and regulars refute the ignorance and foolishness of trollish commentors.

* Sure. Call me a cynic.
** Please read the entire article, and follow the Gleiwitz incident link.


J said...

(dissent, if you don't mind)

I don't generally agree with Buchanan, and would agree he's a bit of a buffoon in person--though his writing does not lack a certain persuasive power--but he raises some interesting points at times. Actually, I enjoy reading his rips of the British and Churchill.

Buchanan did object to the neo-cons at one point, and to the IWE, unlike say DeLong, who approved of the war, at least initially. (Buchanan also has said some things against Hitchens, one of DeLong's cronies, most likely). DeLong's one of these atheist moderate sorts (and his economics not even that liberal) who instinctively reacts to any hints of religious thinking, or catholicism. I suspect Doc DeLong read a lot of Ayn Rand at one point, along with the econ. klassics (from Smith to Greenspan!). Keynes he is not (except perhaps for those Keynesian.....nudgy nudge bits)

That said, Poland was sort of traditional German (prussian, really) territory, and there were many germans there (and in ukraine, czech, etc). Hitler was of course a sick madman, though he's hardly acting alone, and was voted in--really, one could argue he's under the gun, probably Goering's luger, if not Luftwaffe. As the EotAW hack points out, the treaty with Stalin did offer the nazis a tempting target (though I suspect Stalin/ USSR were already considering annexing Poland as well). And even if you don't care for Buch. he's probably correct that the Poles expected the Brits would jump in immediately, and that the Brits declaring of war was a pretext for controlling europe (including financially). Buch.'s points on the Brit's bombing of german civilian targets also worth remembering (as it was for even Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse 5).

And one should not mistake the EotAW posse for objective history. It's sort of PC HBO-movie-of-the week history. (They also ban anyone who refuses to sort of join in the chants as well).

Jazzbumpa said...

J -

I invite dissent. Have at it.

I'm no fan of either Churchill or the Brits.

While there is considerable merit to what you say, DeLong really did nail it. And saying "Hitler had never wanted war with Poland," when he attacked them under false pretenses is exactly as valid as saying Bush never wanted war with Iraq.

You can diss EOTAW all you like. I find it to be one of the most rational websites on the entirety of the interwebs.


J said...

--we should not mistake Time's report on "Gleiwitz" for objective history either. While I think Hitler and the SS men were certainly capable of that sort of atrocity, there's more to the story (like the Hitler-Stalin pact story)--and the Brits' treaty with Poles in '39 (some say a deliberate provocation of war, regardless of Chamberlain's supposed friendship with goimans). Danzig (Gdansk) was german/prussian territory, from way back.

--EotAW address fairly weighty topics, but they always put their neo-liberal-academic spin on it. History should not be mistaken for psychology--I recall a history professor like one of the EotAW types back at my old school, who sort of had to remind us of the marxist POV on each and every event in modern Euro history.

That said, I doubt even Marxy Marx would approve of the rather sentimental approach of EotAW, which gives the reader a sort of a priori map of the villains and heroes. Without a Wehrmacht (and trusty generals like Jodl) Hitler would have been nothing.

Jazzbumpa said...

Certainly there is a lot of complexity to the inter-relationships of the various actors in late 30's Europe.

But -
Without Cheney, Rummy and (alas) Powell W would have been nothing, too.

Besides -
Having more to the story is rather insignificant, compared to the corpses of non-attackers wrapped in Polish uniforms.

And -
Hitler did invade Poland.

The deep stupid was in saying that Hitler didn't want the war that he started.


J said...

The Germans did invade Poland, of course, but the facts surrounding the "Gleiwitz incident" are another matter. The entire story comes from the testimony of one man at Nuremberg, Naujocks, and that was only part of "Operation Himmler" (Himmler in charge of SS, and probably nearly as powerful as Hitler himself). I'm not saying it didn't happen, and not defending the nazis--I'm merely saying it's sort of shady. The soviets were in Poland as well--the Katyn massacre--falsely attributed to the germans, for years--went down a few months after the german invasion.

Hitler and the nazis are certainly in the running in the Atrocity pennant race, but they got stiff competition from Stalin/NKVD, and Mao (and even Brits and US aren't far behind).

Jazzbumpa said...

J -

I've updated the post to include a link to Silbey's reaction to Buchanan's article, and give you a little credit (or discredit - you decide) as well.

Whatever happened - or not - at Gleiwitz, Hitler was ultimately after the land mass and food growing capability of Russia, and Poland happened to be in the way.

Lots else that's massively wrong about Buchanan's article is revealed in Silbey's riposte and the comments as well. Along with unanesthetized dissection of the trolls.


J said...


Really, re-reading Buchanan's piece, I think Buchanan errored in suggesting Der Fuhrer had good intentions of some sort, and it was a boneheaded error ("Hitler--reconsidered")--the nazis may have wanted a few alliances, even with Brits, but they were intent on demolishing Russia and the east (and the jewish people--). And Buchanan's also guilty of the mastermind fallacy--that Hitler controls all, knows all--when it's more like a ruling junta of officers, SS psychos, along with Der Fuhrer, who was not really a great military strategist (as the wehrmacht in winter of '42 discovered).

That said, Buchanan's general point re the British treaty with Poland holds. Danzig was German territory for centuries (as was the entire baltic region)--only with the Treaty of Versailles did the poles regain Danzig /Gdansk (some poles--many poles supported the germans, historically, and in WWII) . Add the potential soviet threat (regardless of the treaties), and, really even the real threat posed by the bolsheviks to those of germanic/nordic heritage in Poland, Ukraine, slavic countries, etc. and that explains some of the motivations of the nazis.

The germans felt betrayed by the Treaty of Versailles of course; for that matter, one could argue that the Brits (and Americans, really) failed to enforce the terms of the ToV anyway, and allowed the Germans to rebuild a massive force (which in fact Churchill was aware of since the early 30s.).

Until like March '39, the Brits supported Hitler, at least implicitly--even Churchill said some nice things about him, when others suspected he was a raving lunatic (--regardless of what Buch. says). The official pop-history of WWII portrays Churchill and the allies as more or less innocents, when the facts suggest otherwise.

(Let's remember that EotAW features a crew of UC (uni. of california) social science/history professors. Ergo, that's not exactly the average scenester blog, but fairly high-powered politics, and dare we say ideology (tenure decisions probably hinge on what the Herr Doktors of EotAW have to say).

Jazzbumpa said...

And with that, I'll let you have the last word.



Betty said...

A very interesting blog and I especially enjoyed the comments. An autobiographical book I'm reading called Abandoned and Forgotten (author Evelyne Tannehill) is about Eastern Prussia during WWII. It's told by a young girl who lived on a farm at the beginning of the war. It's history we should always remember with some accuracy and hopefully learn from.

Jazzbumpa said...

Betty -

Thinks for visiting and commenting.

I just started reading THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH. At 1500 pages, it will probably take me a year to get through it.