Even the most ardent of interventionists will concede that World War I was a deadly and destructive debacle. That is certainly how the American people felt after the war was over. They realized that the tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers who were sacrificed in that war died for nothing. The war did not end all wars or make the world safe for democracy, as U.S. interventionists had hoped, but instead simply gave rise to a continuation of the war a couple of decades later.
Not so, however, with World War II. Whenever there is a new debacle involving foreign interventionism (See, for example, Iraq and Afghanistan), the interventionists immediately trot out World War II as their favorite example of foreign intervention.
Yet, when one closely examines the actual results of World War II, it’s difficult to understand what interventionists are crowing about.
Keep in mind, first of all, that it was Great Britain that declared war on Germany, not the other way around.
Why did Great Britain do that? Great Britain had issued a guarantee to Poland stating that in the event of German aggression against Poland, Great Britain would come to Poland’s assistance.
Germany invaded Poland. Great Britain, to honor its guarantee, declared war on Germany.
Great Britain’s goal in declaring war against Germany was clear: Free the Polish people from Nazi tyranny.
What was the result at the conclusion of the war?
Poland was, in fact, liberated from Nazi tyranny, only to suffer for the next 45 years under the tyranny of the Soviet Union, which was headed by a brutal communist regime.
Interventionists have long held that that was a victory because the Soviet Union was on “our side” in the war. Not surprisingly, the Polish people didn’t see it that way. For them, tyranny was tyranny, whether it was Nazi tyranny or communist tyranny.
Among the many interesting aspects to all this was that Germany and the Soviet Union were partners at the time Germany invaded Poland. In fact, shortly after Germany invaded Poland, so did the Soviet Union. The joint invasion of Poland was part of the partnership agreement that Germany and the Soviet Union had entered into.
Yet, when Great Britain declared war on Germany in order to free the Polish people from Nazi tyranny, it did not, at the same time, declare war on the Soviet Union to free the Polish people from communist tyranny. Why not? Interventionists always have a tough time explaining that one.
Another interesting aspect to this was that after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, thereby dissolving their partnership, Great Britain and the United States ended up going into partnership with the Soviet Union to defeat the Soviet Union’s former partner, Nazi Germany.
Yes, a U.S. government partnership with the Soviet communists! It was a partnership in which Great Britain and the United States agreed to let Eastern Europe and East Germany fall into the clutches of the communists, only to use Soviet postwar control over such areas as the excuse to wage a Cold War against their old partner as soon as the war was over.
Imagine if someone had asked you in 1941 whether you would be willing to sacrifice your life so that the Polish people (and other Eastern Europeans) would get to suffer under communist tyranny rather than Nazi tyranny and so that the United States would get to fight a 45-year Cold War against Hitler’s old enemy, along with two major land wars in Asia. What would you say?
Meanwhile, let’s not forget the “victory” in the Pacific that interventions are so proud about. To provoke the Japanese into “firing the first shot” at the United States in order to get the United States into the war, FDR’s ostensible goal was to liberate China from the Japanese.
So, what was the result at the end of the war? Within a few years, virtually all of China too had fallen under brutal communist rule. It remains under brutal communist rule to this day.
Suppose someone had asked you in 1941: Are you willing to sacrifice your life so that the Chinese people will get to live under Chinese tyranny rather than Japanese tyranny? What would have been your answer?
Of course, interventionists say that their “victory” should be measured simply by their defeat of Germany and Japan. Really? Even when such “victory” brings into existence a state of affairs that is equally bad to what existed before the war or even worse?
“Victory” in World War II meant that all of Eastern Europe, half of Germany, and most of China ended up under the brutal control of the communists, a situation that converted the U.S. government into permanent warfare state, one that ever since has been perpetually at war with the world, with coups, invasions, occupations, and regime-change operations, and against its own citizens, with such totalitarian-like programs as secret surveillance schemes, kidnapping, disappearances, torture, assassination, and indefinite detention.
With “victories” like that, who needs losses?
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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