Pat Buchanan and the Struggle for Truth in History

From the Editor
Published: 1999-10-20

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In a new book that proves he would rather be right than President, Patrick J. Buchanan has provoked the most heated public discussion about World War II history in many years. In A Republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America's Destiny (Regnery), the well-known journalist, commentator and presidential candidate eloquently pleads for a US foreign policy of non-intervention in wars around the globe. Only such a policy, based on prudent pursuit of America's vital interests, he contends, will enable the United States to avoid a future of endless war.

To judge by the attacks of his critics, one can easily get the impression that Buchanan's new book is little more than a raving polemic. In fact, it is a carefully referenced and intelligently argued brief for a once generally accepted view of America's place in the world.

Although the book takes the reader through two centuries of American history, its critics have focused on three assertions: that Britain's war guarantee to Poland in 1939 was a monumental blunder, that Germany posed no strategic threat to the United States, and that Jews have played a crucial, and harmful, role in determining US foreign policy.

Americans are routinely given the impression that it was Hitler who declared war against Britain and France. Actually, it was Britain and France that declared war against Germany, citing Hitler's September 1939 attack against Poland as a pretext, and thereby transformed a localized conflict into a European-wide conflagration. At the end of the terrible conflict, five and a half years later, Poland was still not free. The country was under the brutal rule of Stalinist Russia – a wartime ally of Britain and the United States.

Echoing the considered views of a range of historians and contemporary statesman over decades, Buchanan emphasizes that Britain had neither the will nor the power to honor its fateful 1939 guarantee to Poland – a pledge that anyway was ignored at war's end.

The host of "The O'Reilly Factor," an influential current affairs television program, highlighted a line from Buchanan's new book as a particularly outrageous example of his wrong-headedness: "Hitler had not wanted war with the West." Viewers were not informed that qualifying words ("In this analysis,") had preceded the cited line, nor were they told that Buchanan marshalled an impressive array of facts and quotes from historians and contemporary personalities to substantiate this point.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan

Actually, the evidence is abundant that Hitler had no aggressive designs against Britain, France or the United States. He not only sought to avoid conflict with them, he worked hard for their friendship, especially Britain's. In this regard, Buchanan cites Hitler's words to the League of Nations commissioner for Danzig, Carl Burckhardt, in August 1939:

Everything I undertake is directed at Russia. If the West is too stupid and too blind to comprehend that, I will be forced to come to an understanding with the Russians, to smash the West, and then, after its defeat, to turn against the Soviet Union.

As Buchanan points out, even former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has affirmed that this "was certainly an accurate statement of Hitler's priorities."

Buchanan challenges not a view of history, so much as a powerful dogma. He is furiously attacked, not because his views are wrong, but because he contests the historical-intellectual foundations of the prevailing social-political order, of "one world" internationalism, and of Jewish-Zionist power.

As the furor over Buchanan's new book shows, how we view World War II, Hitler, and Third Reich Germany – even after more than half a century – remains crucial to our understanding of today's world. It is the defining conflict of our age. From it the United States emerged as the world's foremost military and economic power. The victorious Allied leaders openly proclaimed their goal of a new world order under a United Nations organization controlled by the US, the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China.

Our political leaders, and their allies who control America's cultural and educational life, ritually portray World War II as the last "good war," in which the forces of good vanquished the forces of evil. This portrayal is, of course, childishly wrong. By all accounts, the victims of Stalin, America's ally, vastly outnumbered those of Hitler, America's enemy. Allied with the United States in the crusade against Hitler and Germany was the world's most oppressive tyranny, Soviet Russia, as well as the world's foremost imperial power, Great Britain.

In 1977, Buchanan was chastised for writing in a column based on John Toland's valuable biography, Adolf Hitler – that Hitler was

an individual of great courage, a soldier's soldier in the Great War, a political organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him.

To his critics, it simply doesn't matter whether or not this characterization is accurate.

Contrary to charges made by some of his more vituperative critics, Buchanan does not "defend" or "apologize for" Hitler. Instead he argues that it would have been in America's best interest to have let Hitler and Stalin destroy each other.

In today's America, the powers-that-be insist on a skewed, Judeocentric view of history. We are obliged to treat Hitler, not as a historical figure, but as a demon or secular satan. Neutrality or indifference toward Hitler and Third Reich Germany is regarded as evil, while America's wartime support for Stalin and Soviet Russia is not.

For decades Pat Buchanan, more pointedly than any other major public figure, has unflinchingly fingered the awesome Jewish role in American political life and US foreign policy. Ten years ago, for example, Jews vilified Buchanan for his steadfast public defense of Ukrainian-American auto worker John Demjanjuk against charges that he murdered Jews in 1942 as "Ivan the Terrible" of Treblinka. The fury of those attacks was matched only by the silence of his critics after Israel's Supreme Court in 1993 ordered Demjanjuk's release, effectively confirming Buchanan's courageous campaign for justice. Predictably, none of his Jewish critics ever apologized for having attacked Buchanan for his lonely defense of Demjanjuk.

For his prolonged defiance of Jewish-Zionist power, Buchanan has earned the ardent hatred of leading Jews. Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, for example, calls him a "classic anti-Semite with fascist leanings" – just about the most terrible charge that can be made against a public figure.

Not so long ago, most Americans – including most Republicans, nearly all conservatives, and even some major daily newspapers – embraced a Buchananesque "America First" foreign policy, as well as many of his "revisionist" views about World War II.

Republicans issued a platform that unequivocally stated: "The Republican Party is firmly opposed to involving this nation in foreign wars." And that included the war in Europe against Hitler. They cheered Claire Booth Luce's declaration that Roosevelt had "lied the American people into war because he could not lead them into it." Republicans openly despised Franklin Roosevelt for his well-documented record of lies and illegal maneuvers to cajole Americans into war, for his wartime alliance with Stalinist Russia, and for his arrogant trampling of constitutional traditions.

Today's Republican party leaders prefer to forget all that. In their acclaim for Franklin Roosevelt and his legacy, they are indistinguishable from their Democratic counterparts. Almost alone, Buchanan voices what's left of Republican party principles. It is not he who has gone off the deep end, but rather his critics who have betrayed their party's conscience.

Where did America jump the track? Already in 1952, historian and journalist Garet Garrett wrote (in an essay included in the anthology Burden of Empire): "We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire." And, seemingly fortelling Buchanan's struggle today, Garrett added:

No doubt the people know they can have their Republic back if they want it enough to fight for it and to pay the price. The only point is that no leader has yet appeared with the courage to make them choose.

Is Buchanan this leader? In numerous syndicated columns over the years, and now in his latest book, Buchanan upholds the tradition of such great dissident historians as Charles Beard, Charles Tansill, Harry Elmer Barnes, A.J.P. Taylor, George Morgenstern, and William H. Chamberlin. With the publication of A Republic, Not an Empire, he reconfirms his stature as America's most influential "revisionist." By encouraging a radical reexamination of 20th century history in a country where historical misinformation is widely and consciously promoted, Buchanan is performing a great public service.

As we in the Institute for Historical Review have stressed for the past two decades, no work is more important for the future of America, and the world, than setting straight the historical record as a constructive guide for the new millennium.

– October 12, 1999


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Author(s): Mark Weber
Title: Pat Buchanan and the Struggle for Truth in History, From the Editor
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 18, no. 3 (May/June 1999), pp. 2f.
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Published: 1999-10-20
First posted on CODOH: Feb. 5, 2013, 6 p.m.
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