I generally consider myself a pacifist, but I often find pacificism to be an unrealistic idealism when faced with violent evil. So I find recent comments that World War II might have been unnecessary to be intriguing, and yet these revisionist writings to be totally unconvincing. And just because a war is necessary doesn’t mean it is good to have to wage it.
Christopher Hutchins’ “A War Worth Fighting” in Newsweek (23 June 2008) takes on Pat Buchanan’s revisionist history of World War II, CHURCHILL, HITLER AND THE UNNCESSARY WAR. Buchanan argues that WWII was an unnecessary war especially if the Europeans would have gotten all the issues from WWI worked out properly. Hutchins critically debunks many of Buchanan’s assumptions and defends the war to defeat “the homicidal, paranoid maniac” Hitler and his Fascist party which took tens of millions of people to their deaths.
Hutchins admits there were plenty of mistakes made by various ally leaders that contributed to the rise of the Nazis and which helped make the war necessary. But the reality of the world is that war was necessary to stop the racist Nazi agenda for world domination. At best Buchanan can only point out how the various decisions contributed to the outcome but his re-reading history 60-70 years later does nothing to change what actually happened. In fact the decisions Buchanan criticizes were the ones that were actually made, and the world always has to deal with what is not what could have, would have, and should have been. Buchanan’s efforts would seem more prescient if he could tell us what policies the US has recently engage in are actually the foundation for our next war, and how we can avoid that war by changing ourselves right now.
If Eve and Adam hadn’t eaten the forbidden fruit – if humans never sinned – the world would have been different too, but we have to deal with what is, not what might have been. Humans sin, make mistakes, have blind spots and suffer lapses in logic and sound judgment which become part of the matrix that makes up where we are today; and yes if everyone made perfect decisions, and perfectly sound decisions, and perfectly godly decisions, we wouldn’t face the host of forces that threaten world peace.
Hutchins makes Buchanan’s book to sound like: “if things had been different, WWII wouldn’t have happened.” WWII was not inevitable or pre-ordained. It happened because of all the decisions which preceded it. And though we can spend endless time speculating which different actions taken before the war might have prevented the war – though history can be rewritten by revisionists – it does not change the actual course of events. And we are brought no closer to world peace by speculating on what unnecessarily happened that made war a necessity. All the wars we fight are not about logic and better judgment. There are non-rational forces at work in the world, which push for human destruction. Evil is real and human rationality alone has not proven itself capable of overcoming the destructiveness of evil – even that which is born of malevolent human will, let alone the evil which opposes God.