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How the West lost the world

| Wednesday, May 28, 2008

WASHINGTON

Europe, the Mother Continent of Western Man, is today aging and dying, unable to sustain the birth rates needed to keep her alive or to resist conquest by an immigrant invasion from the Third World. What happened to the nations that only a century ago ruled the world?

In "Churchill, Hitler and 'The Unnecessary War': How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World," published Tuesday, this writer argues that it was colossal blunders of British statesmen, Winston Churchill foremost among them, that turned two European wars into world wars that may yet prove the mortal wounds of the West.

The first blunder was the decision in 1906 to send a British army across the Channel to fight in a Franco-German War. Had the Kaiser known the British Empire would fight for France, he would have moved more decisively to halt the plunge to war in July 1914. Had Britain not declared war on Aug. 4 and brought in Japan, Italy and the U.S., the war would have ended far sooner. Leninism and Stalinism would never have triumphed in Russia and Hitler would never have come to power in Germany.

The second blunder was the vengeful Treaty of Versailles that added a million square miles to the British Empire while putting millions of Germans under Czech and Polish rule in violation of the terms of the armistice and Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points.

A third was the British decision to capitulate to U.S. demands in 1921 and throw over a faithful Japanese ally of 20 years. Tokyo took its revenge, 20 years later, by inflicting the greatest defeat in British history, the surrender of Singapore.

A fourth British blunder was the 1935 decision to sanction Italy for a colonial war in Ethiopia. London destroyed the Stresa Front of Britain, France and Italy that Mussolini had forged to contain Germany and drove Mussolini straight into the arms of a Nazi dictator he loathed.

In 1936, France sounded out the British to determine if they would support a drive to push German troops out of the Rhineland that Hitler had occupied in violation of Versailles. The British refused. And Churchill congratulated France for taking the matter up with the League of Nations.

Munich was a disaster. But it was a direct consequence of a Versailles treaty that had consigned 3.5 million Sudeten Germans to Czech rule against their will and in violation of the principle of self-determination.

But the fatal blunder was the decision of March 31, 1939, to hand a war guarantee to a neo-fascist regime of Polish colonels who had joined Hitler in the rape of Czechoslovakia. Britain gave Warsaw a blank check to take her to war over a town, Danzig, the British themselves thought should be restored to Germany. Result: a Hitler-Stalin Pact and a six-year war that left scores of millions dead and Europe in ruins.

Churchill was the indispensable war leader who held on until Hitler committed his fatal blunders, invading Russia and declaring war on America. About the character of the Bolshevik regime in 1919 and Nazi regime in 1933, Churchill had been right. About British rearmament, he had been right. But Churchill was also often disastrously wrong.

He led the West to its own barbarism by imposing a starvation blockade on Germany in 1914 and launching air terror against open cities in 1940, bringing death to hundreds of thousands of women and children. He was behind the Dardanelles disaster of 1915 and the Norwegian fiasco of 1940 that brought down Chamberlain and vaulted Churchill to power.

While excoriating Chamberlain for appeasing Hitler, Churchill's own appeasement of Stalin was even more egregious and costly. Churchill was, however, right when he told FDR after Pearl Harbor that they should call the war they were in "The Unnecessary War."

He was a great man -- at the cost of his country's greatness.

Pat Buchanan edits The American Conservative magazine.

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