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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Joe Sobran-The Friends of Uncle Joe


The Friends of Uncle Joe
by Joe Sobran

(From SOBRAN'S, February 2000, pages 2-6)

     The year 2000 has brought a predictable flood of 
retrospection, with several equally predictable nominees for 
Man (or rather "Person") of the Century. These include Albert 
Einstein (chosen by TIME), Winston Churchill (the choice of 
THE WEEKLY STANDARD), and Franklin D. Roosevelt (the choice of 
several, including Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in the NEW YORK 
DAILY NEWS).

     The gushing encomia deal very lightly, as one might also 
have predicted, with one fact common to all three: their 
fondness for Joseph Stalin, perhaps the Mass Murderer of the 
Millennium. TIME fails to mention that the saintly Professor 
Einstein, a man of "humane and democratic instincts," was a 
relentless fellow-traveler who defended even Stalin's macabre 
1938 Moscow show trials; the anti-Communist philosopher Sidney 
Hook recalled in his autobiography, OUT OF STEP, that getting 
Einstein to criticize the Soviet Union was like pulling teeth.

     Roosevelt's eulogists likewise avoid the subject of 
Stalin, for whom FDR had the highest regard, calling him "a 
Christian gentleman" during the Yalta conference. He had 
befriended Stalin from the first year of his administration, 
when he extended diplomatic recognition to the murderous 
pariah state. Time and again he chose to help "Uncle Joe" when 
he didn't have to, appeasing him from a position of strength. 
Even Neville Chamberlain never idealized Hitler as "Uncle 
Adolf." When FDR asked Pope Pius XII to condemn Hitler, Pius 
sent back word that if he did so he would also have to condemn 
Stalin; Roosevelt withdrew the request.

     As for Churchill, we are assured that he had no illusions 
about Stalin, which only makes his wartime indulgence of the 
tyrant harder to excuse. His 1946 complaint (in a famous 
speech in Fulton, Missouri) about the "Iron Curtain" falling 
on Eastern Europe after World War II is treated as prophetic, 
when it was just the opposite: a totally hypocritical gesture. 
Anyone who didn't know what to expect of Stalin by 1946 -- or 
who could believe his guarantees at Yalta in 1945 -- was a 
moron. And Churchill was no moron, only a cynic feigning alarm 
at the obvious.

     Stalin had shown his true colors long before Roosevelt 
and Churchill took on as their ally the brave, bluff "Uncle 
Joe." Had they never heard of the forced famine of Ukraine, 
the NKVD mass arrests, the Gulag camps, the purges and show 
trials, the murder of Trotsky, the invasions of Poland (with 
the Katyn Forest massacre of 15,000 Polish officers), Finland, 
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania? All these things, and more, 
revealed not only the brutality of Stalin but the logic of 
Communism itself, which had begun its reign in Russia with the 
mass murder of Orthodox priests under Lenin. Communism was in 
essence a reversion to the principles of primitive warfare, 
directed not only against external enemies but against its own 
subjects if they resisted (or were even suspected of a 
disposition to resist) its tyranny.

     The alliance with the Soviet Union is a permanent 
bloodstain on the Western democracies. It was part of what 
F.J.P. Veale, a British jurist, called the Allies' "advance to 
barbarism" in his mercilessly trenchant book of that title. 
Long out of print, ADVANCE TO BARBARISM is now available only 
from the Institute for Historical Review in Torrance, 
California. The book is both essential to read and difficult 
to obtain. It's remarkable for the iron logic with which Veale 
seizes on the damning casual admissions, and even the 
occasional twinges of conscience, of the victors of World War 
II. (He finds such twinges far more often in Churchill than in 
Roosevelt.)

     The exaltation of the three Stalin-lovers as the heroes 
of the century, and saviors of civilization, is almost 
incomprehensible. It's as if we were asked to believe that 
three of the greatest men of the Middle Ages -- say, Innocent 
III, Dante, and St. Francis of Assisi -- had been friends and 
admirers of Genghis Khan.

     The truth is that the Allied cause was as unholy as 
Hitler's. Veale ranks the Allies' policies of terror-bombing 
and "war-crimes" trials with Hitler's genocide as the 
distinguishing features of the "retrograde movement of 
civilization" that culminated in World War II. The readiness 
with which Churchill and Roosevelt embraced Stalin as an ally 
after Hitler attacked Russia in 1941 was only one signal of 
the new morality of warfare they were prepared to adopt; they 
so far forgave Stalin's part in the rape of Poland that began 
the war in 1939 as to entrust him, at the war's end in 1945, 
with control of Poland.

     War has always been terrible, of course, and mass 
extermination was a regular occurrence until the development 
of what may be called, without irony, the rules of "civilized 
warfare" late in the seventeenth century. At that time 
Europe's rulers, exhausted by bloody combat, came to agree on 
certain conventions: combat should be confined to soldiers in 
uniform; civilians and their property should be left alone; 
prisoners should be treated humanely; and defeated powers 
should be spared total devastation and indignity. These rules 
held until (and to some extent even after) World War I, 
replacing the logic of annihilation that governed primitive or 
"primary warfare" -- the unrestricted slaughter common between 
warring societies with no civilized principles in common.

     For more than two centuries after the age of Louis XIV, 
European civilians were so unmolested that they often barely 
realized that their rulers were at war, and ordinary travel 
and commerce between countries usually continued during 
hostilities. The courtliness between rulers and officers of 
opposing armies, like the jovial fraternization between common 
soldiers as soon as peace was restored, is often hard to 
believe now. A sort of golden rule prevailed; each victor 
realized that he might be tomorrow's loser, so everyone tried 
to avoid leaving a legacy of bitterness by treating the 
vanquished reasonably and often generously. Peace treaties 
politely avoided any tone of blame or recrimination.

     There were exceptions, of course. Napoleon's mass armies 
changed the character of war for a while; Lincoln's policy of 
waging war on civilian areas shocked European observers. 
Lincoln justified this on grounds that he was dealing not with 
a traditional war, but with a rebellion, in which the entire 
enemy population might be treated as criminals and traitors. 
The idealizers of Lincoln have blamed his policy on the 
generals who merely carried it out, especially Sherman and 
Sheridan. Of course even Lincoln was unable to apply this view 
consistently; to do so would have meant executing nearly every 
Southerner, soldier or civilian. But Lee's gallantry was more 
typical of the code of the professional man of arms. Veale 
notes that the South was more imbued with European culture, 
including military culture, than the North.

     According to Veale, World War I was not truly a world 
war, but only the last and worst of Europe's civil wars. There 
were serious lapses from the code of civilized warfare: the 
British naval blockade of Europe caused mass starvation, for 
example, and Allied propaganda diabolized the Kaiser and the 
"Huns" with wild atrocity stories of bayoneted babies. But in 
the end, as usual, the parties convened after the war to make 
a settlement among themselves, although, for the first time, a 
non-European power had a say: the United States, led by the 
blundering Woodrow Wilson.

     But in contrast to earlier peace settlements, Germany was 
unfairly blamed and cruelly looted, leaving Germans poor and 
starving. The bitter fruit of German "war guilt" set the stage 
for a far worse war, which would result in a settlement 
dictated, for the first time in European history, by non-
European powers: the United States and the Soviet Union.

     Shortly after World War I British military planners, 
contemplating war with France at the time, began to savor the 
possibilities of aerial warfare against civilian targets. By 
1936, well before World War II, the British started preparing 
for an aerial war -- a total break with the principles of 
civilized warfare. When the war came, they soon put this new 
idea into effect, catching the Germans unprepared. Such 
British military authorities as J.M. Spaight and Arthur 
"Bomber" Harris, looking back triumphantly at the success of 
terror-bombing, later wrote books gloating that the Germans 
had been caught flat-footed! Instead of adapting to the new 
technology of war, the Germans had continued to regard aerial 
bombing as mere tactical support for ground troops and the 
bomber as a form of airborne combat artillery; and because 
they didn't perceive the possibility of "strategic" bombing 
against the population and resources of an enemy country, the 
Luftwaffe had no heavy bombers with which to match the 
destructive fury of the Royal Air Force even for the purpose 
of retaliating against RAF strikes on German cities. Yet the 
boasts of men like Spaight and Harris didn't affect the 
popular view (and official story) that the Germans had 
originated the atrocity of bombing cities.

     Official American propaganda likewise used the Japanese 
bombing of Chinese cities as a justification for fighting 
Japan, until the United States itself adopted the policy of 
bombing Japanese and German cities. Since this policy was 
accepted as legitimate when employed against diabolical 
enemies, it's now difficult for most people to recall the 
nauseous horror that bombing cities used to inspire. As Veale 
says, we have all become inured not only to atrocities in a 
holy cause but to the sort of "doublethink" that reasons: "We 
must be willing to slaughter innocent people in order to 
defeat our monstrous enemies, who slaughter innocent people."

     The test came when, in 1940, Churchill's War Cabinet (in 
what Spaight would later praise as a "splendid decision") 
secretly adopted the policy of striking industrial areas of 
Germany outside the combat zone, vastly broadening the 
definition of "military objectives" and ensuring many civilian 
casualties. Two years later this policy was expanded under the 
Lindemann Plan to deliberately targeting the most thickly 
populated areas of industrial cities -- working-class 
neighborhoods near factories, where workers and their families 
lived in crowded tenements. Attacks on civilians were actually 
given priority over attacks on factories. Men, women, and 
children alike became "military objectives"; undefended cities 
like Hamburg and Dresden became furnaces in which people flung 
themselves into rivers to escape the terrific heat; old 
houses, churches, and other buildings that had survived from 
the Middle Ages were reduced to rubble by the latest methods, 
and oldest principles, of warfare. Even the confines of zoos 
were destroyed, and frantic wild animals roamed the streets. 
Burial of all the dead being impossible, funeral pyres 
disposed of bodies for weeks after the air raids.

     Meanwhile, Churchill and his cronies lied to Parliament, 
denying that they were practicing "indiscriminate bombing." In 
one sense the denials were true. The bombing was anything but 
indiscriminate, since killing and terrorizing civilians was 
not a side effect of error or carelessness but the fully 
conscious purpose of the Lindemann Plan. The full truth 
emerged only long after the war, in the early 1960s. But by 
then it all seemed ancient history to most people, few cared 
much about the truth, and the war's mythology was too firmly 
established to be shaken. Veale had already gathered the 
essence of the story before all the details were released, but 
even now his work is little known and the official wartime 
story is still vaguely accepted as essentially true.

     At the time it was happening, the British public thought 
German charges of deliberate bombing of civilians were the 
products of Joseph Goebbels's propaganda machine. And when the 
Germans retaliated with the infamous Blitz against British 
cities, as Churchill foresaw, the Englishman in the street was 
outraged at Germany's hideous violation of civilized rules of 
warfare, never dreaming that his own government had purposely 
provoked it.

     Hitler himself, according to his biographer John Toland, 
was so shocked by the British bombing of cities that he at 
first excused it as a mistake, due to the inexperience of 
British bomber pilots. He couldn't believe the British were 
capable of such savagery. It was three months before the 
Germans responded in kind. Even so, as Spaight later admitted: 
"Hitler assuredly did not want the mutual bombing to go on."

     Franklin Roosevelt and the Americans were quite willing 
to join in the new spirit of total war. Roosevelt, an acolyte 
of Wilson, had always yearned for war with Germany and the 
chance to build an American global empire; the American people 
had been roused to fury and race-hatred by the Japanese attack 
on Pearl Harbor, likewise never suspecting that it had been in 
any way provoked. "Sneaky Japs" seemed a sufficient 
explanation and no punishment seemed excessive.

     A new book, DAY OF DECEIT, by Robert B. Stinnett, argues 
that Roosevelt actually knew the attack was coming -- but 
excuses him anyway! After all, "the Pearl Harbor attack was, 
from the White House perspective, something that had to be 
endured in order to stop a greater evil -- the Nazi invaders 
in Europe who had begun the Holocaust and were poised to 
invade England." These words show how thoroughly the 
democracies still accept the notion that the end -- stopping 
Hitler (the "sneaky Japs" have receded from the picture) -- 
justified any and every means, including massive deception of 
the American public. As of 1941, of course, Hitler had not yet 
"begun the Holocaust"; besides, his persecution of Jews played 
no part in Roosevelt's callous calculations.

     Goaded by Einstein and others, Roosevelt also launched 
the quest for the ultimate bomb, one that would incinerate 
whole cities in a flash. This final nail in the coffin of 
civilized warfare was originally intended for German cities; 
one wonders whether Americans might feel somewhat more rueful 
about it today if it had been dropped on Berlin and Munich 
rather than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The use of this bomb -- 
more truly Roosevelt's bomb than Harry Truman's -- stands as 
the most inhuman act of the whole war, a fact that Allied 
harping on Nazi "war crimes" has successfully diverted most 
people from realizing.

     No American president has used power as ruthlessly as 
Roosevelt. His liberal admirers are somewhat embarrassed by 
his order to round up U.S. citizens of Japanese extraction -- 
a brazen violation of their constitutional rights -- but it 
was of a piece with his constant use of federal agencies to 
punish, smear, or disable anyone he deemed an enemy. The 
notion that FDR was somehow on the side of civil liberties is 
hard to fathom. His critics correctly sized him up as a 
dictator at heart. His affinity with Stalin was genuine. Both 
were exemplars of the total state and total war.

     In another breach of the rules of civilized warfare, 
Roosevelt and Churchill insisted on unconditional surrender by 
the Axis powers, thereby prolonging the war and immensely 
intensifying its bitterness. They made it clear that there 
would be no mercy for the losers.

     As the war drew to a close, Veale notes, Roosevelt and 
Churchill were eager to placate Stalin, who at the 1943 Tehran 
conference had urged that 50,000 German officials be 
dispatched à la Katyn Forest. This was a little more than the 
democratic leaders figured their people could stomach, so they 
proposed an alternative Stalinist method: postwar sham trials, 
observing the superficial forms of judicial process. Stalin, 
sighing at this bourgeois sentimentalism, for once yielded. In 
fact he eventually staged thousands of war-crimes "trials" of 
his own, in which there were, of course, no acquittals to 
speak of.

     When the trials began at Nuremberg, there were a few 
irregularities. The accusers (including Soviet "judges" with 
long experience in Stalinist jurisprudence) doubled as jurors; 
the court was never impartial; the accused were judged guilty 
before the proceedings began. The rules of evidence sharply 
limited the defense; the defendants were not permitted to 
argue that the Allies had committed the same acts they were 
being accused of.

     Even at that, the Germans were never tried for bombing 
civilian areas, because the Allies didn't want to risk calling 
attention to the fact that they themselves had initiated this 
particular "crime against humanity." The novel charge of 
"waging a war of aggression" was never defined, because no 
definition could be found that would cover the German invasion 
of Poland without also covering Soviet invasions of Poland and 
several other countries to boot.

     Such treatment of prisoners of war was also a novel 
departure from the old rules, which the Allies justified by 
arbitrarily declaring the captured German military officers to 
be civilians. This made them eligible to be tried as criminals 
under the inchoate new rules. The purpose of the trials was 
not to do justice or to determine guilt according to normal 
standards of law (which forbid ex post facto trials), but to 
give the Allies a propaganda victory on top of their military 
triumph.

     In essence, the Germans were convicted of losing the war. 
The only real "war crime," as Veale points out, was being 
defeated. The honorable German admiral Erich Raeder, for 
example, was convicted for invading Norway, though he had 
merely beaten the British to the punch on the eve of their own 
planned invasion. The whole thing was a shameless break with 
precedent, but it set its own precedents for the pursuit of 
aging "war criminals" that still continues. When similar 
trials were held in Tokyo two years later, an Indian jurist 
who participated decried the proceedings: "The farce of a 
trial of vanquished leaders by the victors was itself an 
offense against humanity." No Western jurist had found the 
courage to say as much at Nuremberg.

     Under the circumstances, it's easy to understand why some 
students of the war even doubt that Hitler's persecution of 
Jews, revolting as it was, amounted to a "Holocaust" or 
extermination program. It may have happened as the official 
story has it, and Veale, who questions most of the Allied 
claims, expresses no doubt of it; but if so, it's about the 
only thing the Allies told the truth about. At any rate, the 
story of the Holocaust is suspiciously convenient for those 
who were willing to commit such horrors that only something 
like an enormous program of mass murder could divert attention 
from their own guilt. With all due respect for those who 
really suffered at Hitler's hands, some skepticism is in 
order. Whatever the truth, Hitler is not the only one who 
deserves lasting infamy. So do several Persons of the Century.

     Veale deals lightly with the postwar mass deportation of 
large populations, including the "repatriation" of millions to 
the Soviet Union (and certain death) during what was later 
known as Operation Keelhaul. At the time when Veale wrote, 
shortly after the war, little had been published about these 
final Allied favors to Uncle Joe. Since then, James Bacque and 
other historians have concluded that the Allies also starved 
millions of Germans after the war, a policy that was 
interrupted only by the breach between the democracies and the 
Soviet Union; luckily for the surviving Germans, the Cold War 
necessitated a new alliance with what was left of Germany.

     Since the Cold War began, the democracies have repudiated 
Stalin and Communism. But that does nothing to remove the 
great bloodstain of World War II, still liberalism's holy war. 
The democracies were Stalin's eager partners in atrocity and 
mendacity, and they committed plenty of crimes of their own 
that can't be blamed on Uncle Joe. And for what it's worth, 
the Allied atrocities seem to have failed on their own terms. 
Most analysts agree that they intensified the war without 
really affecting the outcome. Veale argues that the diversion 
of RAF bombers to Germany may even have changed the outcome of 
the Battle of France in 1940, when one defeat might have 
toppled Hitler and cut the war short. In the end the victors 
succeeded chiefly in hardening their own consciences, while 
giving Stalin the spoils.

     Some sort of pragmatic defense of the war might have been 
made on the frank grounds of power: Churchill and the British 
wanted to oppose German power, which threatened their own 
global empire (while speaking frankly of "the British Empire" 
in private, for propaganda purposes Churchill called his cause 
"democracy" in public); Roosevelt wanted also to stop the 
Japanese, those insolent yellow dwarfs (as Veale caustically 
puts it) who dared to challenge the white man's rule in the 
Far East.

     But Roosevelt and Churchill chose to wage the war as a 
Manichaean crusade against evil, while cutting their cynical 
deal with the devil in the Kremlin (not to mention the one in 
hell). Their partnership with Uncle Joe, their resort to 
aerial mass murder, and their participation in postwar 
enormities destroyed any moral claim they made for the war. 
Sooner or later the accepted view of this heroic epic is going 
to have to be drastically revised, as Veale perceived 
immediately after the war ended.

     The Allied crimes have never been acknowledged, except as 
wartime necessities justified by noble ends; and the Allied 
criminals have never been brought to the dock. Instead, they 
are still honored as heroes of the twentieth century. (Even 
the memory of the odious "Bomber" Harris -- long ostracized 
with distaste and moral embarrassment by the British 
Establishment for his rather unseemly enthusiasm for killing 
civilians -- was recently honored by the erection of a statue 
in London.) And the entire American establishment still has a 
stake in the mythology of World War II; its legitimacy rests 
largely on its boast that it saved the world from Hitler. It 
can afford neither to disown its alliance with Stalin nor to 
face the implications of its having befriended him. It still 
condemns the "isolationists" who knew exactly what Stalin was 
a decade before Churchill acknowledged it at Fulton.

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