Sunday, June 22, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson: Somewhat Accurate History

It's always fun to watch the ping-pong ball.

Victor Davis Hanson has taken umbrage at Pat Buchanan’s description of him as “the court historian of the neoconservatives,” and even more umbrage at Buchanan’s book. Unfortunately for Hanson, Buchanan’s description of Hanson is accurate, and Hanson’s review of Buchanan’s book shows all the care and intelligence we have come to expect from one of the biggest cheerleaders for Bush’s disastrous scheme to bring democracy to the Middle East by force of arms.

Well, yah, VDH actually IS a 'court historian', to some extent. I happened to run across a USMC officer (USNA grad)--a friend of the family--who is serving in Iraq. That fellow also questions the ability of the US to impose democracy by force of arms in that particular sandbox.

But VDH is not merely a propagandist. Occasionally he forgets inconvenient facts. stereotypical neocon fashion, Hanson wrote that “if we wish to learn what was going on in Europe in 1938, just look around.” But the neocons do more than think every year is 1938; they also consistently reveal a leftist mindset reminiscent of the Popular Front, as Hanson did in this column. Hanson compared “the rise of fascism” in Spain to the rise of Hitler, ignoring the fact that Franco fought to save Catholic Spain from Communist butchery, kept Spain neutral in World War II, and was later an American ally in the Cold War, facts appreciated by such earlier National Review writers as Brian Crozier, James Burnham’s successor as NR’s foreign affairs columnist and a Franco biographer and admirer. Even more astonishingly, Hanson blasted the “fantasies” of “Pope Pius,” writing that “it is baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.” (The great historian does not tell us which Pope Pius he is criticizing, Pius XI, who authored the anti-Nazi encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge and told Belgian pilgrims in 1938 that “it is impossible for a Christian to take part in anti-Semitism,” or Pius XII, who saved tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust and so enraged the Nazis there were plans to kidnap him).

Oh, well. Minor stuff, that.

It seems that Hanson also cannot read very well:

...Hanson’s sloppiness spills over into viciousness when Hanson claims that Buchanan in essence “empathize[s] with a psychopath” and charges that “British military weakness is blamed for Auschwitz.” Reading Hanson, one would never guess that Buchanan wrote this: “For what happened to the Jews of Europe, Hitler and his collaborators in the unspeakable crimes bear full moral responsibility. The just punishment for people who participate in mass murder is death, be it in a bunker or on a gallows. The Nazi murderers got what they deserved.” Or this: “For that war one man bears full moral responsibility: Hitler.” Hanson’s review overlooks Buchanan’s endorsement of the Stresa Front against Nazi Germany, his statement that the French should have invaded Germany in 1936 in response to the remilitarization of the Rhineland, and the course of action he says Chamberlain should have taken after Munich: “Tell Britons the truth: Hitler was not to be trusted and he was on the march. Chamberlain could have imposed conscription, stepped up production of aircraft, begun buying munitions from the United States, and waited. Rather than commit Britain to a war she could not win, he could have done what Truman did when another ruthless totaliarian seized an indefensible Prague. Adopt a policy of containment.” What Buchanan criticizes is the British war guarantee to Poland, not British action to contain Nazi aggression. Anyone misled by Hanson into thinking Buchanan “empathizes” with Hitler should consider Buchanan’s description of the Nazi-Soviet Pact: “Hitler won the competition for Stalin’s hand for a reason: They were brothers under the skin, amoral political animals with blood on their hands who would unhesitatingly betray nations or crush peoples to advance state or ideological interests.” Not even Hanson, I trust, would suggest that Buchanan “empathizes” with Hitler’s “brother under the skin,” Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin.

But, you know, Buchanan's book had so many words! Who could have possibly read ALL of them?

Next time you hear about the wonders of VDH, I suggest you take them with a large dose of Morton's finest.

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