Why War Nerd Hates World War Two

By Gary Brecher
The Exile, December 15, 2010

Edited by Andy Ross

WW II is way overrated. The biggest lie about WW II is that it was a war between good and evil. Bullshit, because there were no good European countries.

AR   Moral philosophy 101: Good and evil are usually shades of gray. If there were no good European countries, there were probably no good countries anywhere, which suggests a defective application of the concept of good here. My take: American self-congratulation at being on the "good" side of the war is probably exaggerated but certainly not mere vanity.

Fact #1: They Were ALL Fascists.
At a military level, WW II was Stalin vs. Hitler. The rest was window dressing. Stalin won because his brand of fascism was actually way more ruthless and bloody and effective than Hitler's smalltime snobbery, and because Stalin had the whole US industrial machine backing him.

AR   This is the sort of simplistic hyperbole that makes Brecher a small-time blogger and not a big-shot historian, despite his obvious erudition on matters relating to war. The core military conflict was that between Stalinist communism and Hitlerite fascism, sure, but I would say that at the level of motivating ideas the driver was the conflict between Soviet demagogic proletarianism and Nazi predatory elitism. The military clash was window dressing for a collision of ideologies, which are not just pale sets of ideas but memetic executables that infect brains and turn whole populations into zomboid replicators for the ideologies.

Of course, most of these WW II fans prefer to think about Britain and the rest of Western Europe. Well, they were all fascists too, just weaker than Stalin and Hitler, more sly and suckup-y. Europe before Stalingrad was an alien planet, as crazy and bloodthirsty as any Aztec priest. Nobody realizes the complete flip-flop Europe did in 1945. Before that, it was a continent full of insane fascists. Some were braver, better soldiers, or smarter; those are the only real differences. And when I say "smarter," I don't want to overdo it. Hitler was the stupidest of all, but he was just the standout.

AR   If we're all fascists then "fascist" is an empty label. And were the Cold War ideologues any less fascistic in this vague sense? What about the planners who tried to calculate how many megadeaths it would take to win a thermonuclear war? More recently, the planning behind the "clash of civilizations" is at least as fascist in this general sense as, say, the British colonial administrators who used military force to keep down insurgents in the Middle East. And if the whole world is as fascist now and it was then, we need to drop this silly word and just admit that people often feel the need to act tough.

Take Churchill, who's supposed to be a God of courage and decency and smarts. Churchill was the moron who got Allied armies into useless Mediterranean campaigns in both World Wars. Churchill's one and only reason for fighting Hitler was that he didn't want Germany challenging England for world domination. In 1936, Churchill told a British general, "Germany is getting too strong; we must smash her." That was his only objection to the Nazis. Churchill was always in favor of violence against anybody who opposed British interests.

AR   Churchill was not as perfect as people like Dick Cheney seem to imagine, and many historians have between them managed to put the facts into better perspective than Churchill himself did. Nevertheless, his contribution to the Allied war effort was not merely outstanding but decisive. Faced with an appalling situation, he did the right thing and ensured the survival of a much more civilized ideology than those of the monsters who fought for dominance via their conscript armies on the Eastern Front.

And if we rotate the globe, the Asian theatre also turns out to be a classic battle of fascism vs. more fascism. The Imperial Japanese military caste was beyond fascist. And Chiang Kai Shek, the Asian Churchill: a totally incompetent military leader and lifelong fascist who saw how the wind was blowing and repackaged himself as a crusader for democracy in order to get aid from the gullible Americans.

AR   Invoking the f-word for all involved is just fogging up the whole history. Imperial Japanese forces took the role of aggressors and perpetrated horrific crimes all across East Asia. The fact that the attacked parties organized themselves and found various ways to fight back does not establish their moral equivalence with the aggressors.

After Stalingrad, the world's fascists just figured out that if you wanted to win, you needed US backing like Stalin got, and that meant you needed a cleaner line of patter than the Nazis and Japanese used.

AR   Since 1945 the United States has a record of backing regimes that often appear to be fascist. The U.S. imperialist memeplex has learned to instrumentalize such petty or local fascism to promote the spread of its American Dream brain infector. And of course a civilized line of patter is now part of the package. For that we can thank Churchill. We have succeeded in putting some distance between us and the tyrants whose proxies slugged it out in the mud from 1941 to 1945.

Fact #2: The Holocaust is a One-Shot Exception; Genocide DOES Pay.
The Holocaust is the next-biggest non-lesson of WW II. Everybody loves to talk about this particular case of genocide because it failed, or so we're told. The Germans paid a terrible price for what they did to the Jews. Nope; the Germans paid a terrible price for invading Russia. If they'd stuck to holding their half of Eurasia, Stalin would have continued his love affair with Hitler and the European Jews would have been a shared buffet. The reason people love to talk about Nazis killing Jews is that, thanks to the Jews in America, there were people who insisted on remembering the victims.

AR   The terrible price for murdering all those Jews was the war itself. If you take the view that the clash of Soviet and Nazi ideologies was at root a clash of cosmopolitan Bolshevism with Germanic racism, the whole European war was window dressing for the genocide, a warm-up exercise to get into a sufficiently nihilistic and murderous mindset. Genocide is not a tea party. One needs to blind onself to the horror with a vision analogous to manifest destiny. Against a civilized people like the Jews, that takes an enormous and almost suicidal effort, as the Germans discovered. Against less exalted victims, lesser efforts may suffice.

Fact #3: There Are NO Military Lessons to Be Learned from WW II
Here's the real lesson of the war: military superiority in the narrow sense isn't nearly as important as economic strength and propaganda working in tandem. If military superiority settled things, the Germans and Japanese would have won because they were by far, and I mean by FAR, the best soldiers.

AR   Brecher's "real" lesson IS a military lesson, and found its best expression in the Cold War. Having to resort to military action is already halfway to defeat, since it is tantamount to accepting that might is right and that moral arguments have become irrelevant. This was the appalling situation that Churchill and the British faced in 1940, where victory at any price seemed the only way out.

The key military struggle of the war was on the plains of Russia, and Hitler lost not because he was evil--what, Stalin wasn't just as evil?--but because he was too much of a snobby hick idiot to look for allies. And if Stalin had been one smidgen LESS evil, he'd have lost anyway. Stalin won because his soldiers were way more afraid of the NKVD than the Nazis.

AR   Philosophy 101 again: Being evil is not an alternative to being various other things, such as being a snobby hick idiot, but is a condition realized precisely through such other, more specific states of being. To evaluate or compare the historical evil of military dictators is in effect to measure their respective performances on scales of snobbery, idiocy and so on. As for why the Soviets won, there were many reasons, not least among them massive Anglo-American aid.

So the real legacy of this shitty war was a Soviet world, where the way to win is to mix propaganda about love and peace for grabbing US tax dollars with a new kind of violence, a mean cowardly kind that happened in Moscow basement interrogation cells, with 70-year sentences to Office World as the alternative for us lucky Fresno-ites.

AR   Poppycock. This is not a Soviet world. And to see it (from Fresno) as Office World is to miss the awesome beauty and power of war via Windows. Each generation finds a new way to fight the good fight. Tanks and aircraft were the WW II way, now we replicate our executables via mouse and keyboard. Get with it, Gary, or go under.